Poets Of Wales

Twenty five leaders attended the symposium on Celtic and Monastic Roots for the Emerging Church which I led at St Deiniol's Residential Library, Wales. It was good to meet old and new friends and also to savour Wales' sacred sites. We made afternoon visits to Saint Winifrede's Holywell and to the Spirituality Centre named after her uncle, Saint Beuno. On the Sunday after it ended I left early to visit the Llyn Peninsular and sacred sites that have not been overlaid by Roman or English influence. After looking out to Bardsey Island, where it said 20,000 saints are buried, I entered Aberdaron Church, where the poet R S Thomas was parish priest. I once sought permission from his son, who lives much of the time in the far east, to quote a poem in one of my books - and met with difficulty. His son breezed into the church, with the translator of R. S's new Chinese edition, and he said he was happy for me to use any of the poems but if I was Rupert Murdoch he'd send a large bill! I liked these words, displayed on the wall, from the poem The Moon in Lleyn:

The last quarter of the moon of Jesus gives way to the dark: the serpent digests the egg. Here on my knees in this stone church, that is full only of the silent congregation of shadows and the sea's sound, it is easy to believe that Yeats was right. Just as though choirs had not sung, shells have swallowed them; the tide laps at the Bible; the bell fetches no people to the brittle miracle of the bread.... Religion is over, and what will emerge from the body of the new moon, no one can say.

But a voice sounds in my ear: Why so fast, mortal? These very seas are baptised. The parish has a saint's name time cannot unfrock. In cities that have outgrown their promise people are becoming pilgrims again...

I squeezed into the very last little balcony seat for the bi-lingual Remembrance Eucharist at St Pedrog's Church. lLanbedrog. The vicar, Andrew Jones, who has produced books and DVD's about the two nearby pilgrim routes to Bardsey Island, finished the service by reading this poem a child in the Sunday School had written:

Maybe it is pointless to wish for lasting peace

For all mankind to lay down arms, for all fighting to cease.

I could despair of seeing, peace throughout the land

No longer hearing talk of war, blood mixed with desert sand

We do not have the tolerance for cultures not our own

seeds fly on an ill wind from beds where they are sown.

Hope lies in a child's heart not yet turned to stone

A mind free of prejudice, a child not alone.

If all children of the world held each other's hand

They could do what we could not

Make a brotherhood of Man.

See yer.

Posted at 09:59am on 8th November 2009
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