What I miss

Reading some of the poems of R. S. Thomas, I’m reminded (again!) of some of the things I miss most, now I’m an ex-vicar. This one, among so many others:


Moments of great calm,
kneeling before an altar
of wood in a stone church
in summer, waiting for the God
to speak; the air a staircase
for silence; the sun’s light
ringing me, as though I acted
a great rôle. And the audiences
still; all that close throng
of spirits waiting, as I,
for the message.
Prompt me, God;
but not yet. When I speak,
though it be you who speak
through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

For twenty-five years and eight months, I had the privilege of access to a holy space, a centuries-old church building where I could go twice a day, morning and evening, and pray. More than the privilege: it was my duty and responsibility, so that kept me to the task even when I didn’t feel like it.

I still try and pray every morning and evening, when I can. But it’s not the same, now that I have to make a holy space in my own cluttered ‘den’. Not the same, now that, even if I go along to one of those other ancient holy spaces, I may not find it open, or may have to share it with other people doing other things. It’s not the same.

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