Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Spaces of encounter, vulnerability and pausing

I recently shared my PhD work with a group of clergy. It was great to get some encouraging, stretching responses, energising the next steps of the journey. But one of the most precious gifts of that encounter was being pointed to a poem by R.S. Thomas, which in Thomas' raw, sparse choice of words, evokes a space of encounter, vulnerability, and pausing - painfully necessary in the world that we find ourselves living in today.


They keep me sober,
The old ladies
Stiff in their beds,
Mostly with pale eyes
Wintering me.
Some are like blonde dolls,
Their joints twisted;
Life in its brief play
Was a bit rough.
Some fumble
With thick tongue for words
And are deaf;
Shouting their faint names
I listen:
They are far off,
The echoes return slow.

But without them,
Without the subdued light
Their smiles kindle,
I would have gone wild,
Drinking earth’s huge draughts
Of joy and woe.

R.S. Thomas 1913-2000
The Echoes Return Slow. 1988, London: Macmillan, p.63.

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