25 January 2012

First Love, or God in Nature Revealed

Lured by vinegary incense into the chrome shiny chip shop,
percussive fat bubbling darkly in the scorching vat,
we collected our ‘Three penn’th, please” and scurried away
into the tired Market Square strewn with dead cabbage leaves, chewing gum
and carrot tops, a sad cold detritus of the passing of another day.
A gaggle of teddy boys, crepe footed peacocks, displayed their velvet drapes
to a giggle of girls, red kiss-proof lipped and peroxide pony tailed.
Up the High Street we went to the church, pale granite and leaden roof
reflecting and refracting the evening’s fugitive sun,
a quiet elegance of dappled stone and our first chosen sanctuary.

The sharp flint of the wall bit into our ribbed grey legs,
its green moss staining our once polished shoes, but contented we sat
as Helios drove his fiery chariot far into the West,
and the dying sun fell behind the distant Abbey's pastel silhouette.
A barn owl, flash of white against the yews’ nocturnal green,
flew low into the shadowy dusk searching for prey,
or for a wandering soul to guide through Hades’ gloomy labyrinthine paths.
The waning moon rose pale above the squat Norman tower,
 and I gazed up into the chill of the darkening sky,
a celestial carpet embroidered now with a host of bright gilded stars.

The church clock struck eight, its sonorous tolling a solemn curfew
to proclaim the ending of our twilight freedom,
unwelcome summoning home to school books left abandoned,
 white mice unfed and evening tasks not yet done. 
But I walked through those dull suburban streets head in air,
suffused with the glory that had reached down to me from the sky.
The moon’s fragile light tipped corroded gutters with silver,
weeds like luminous gold ferns glistened beneath bleak sodium lamps,
and all those stars were a million tiny candles
 lit by the breath of God.

Absorbed into a mystery,
I held out my arms to the universe,
to a chaste and perfect unity.
 I was a girl in love
 with my very first love,
and the world was born anew,
to be for ever sanctified by this divine beauty.

20 January 2012

The Angelus

Love not knowledge is the answer, feeling not logic is the process.
Charles Davis, Roman Catholic Theologian

They had climbed up to the old shrine - one wall only remained, built into the side of the Reformation chapel, perched high on the cliff above the bay. 
    “Is it alright” asked the Young Man, “when the Angelus bell is rung, for me to pause and say a prayer asking for help of Mary the Star of the Sea?” 
Reason, a statuesque lady with well cut hair and dainty feet, sighed. She regarded the Young Man with a trace of scorn mixed with the kind of sympathy that those who know themselves to be correct
can afford to expend. 
    “No.” she said. “It is not reasonable to invoke the assistance of a Jewish mother of uncertain virtue and little education, who was probably simply the construct of a first century radical Judaic legend.”   
    “But,” persisted the Young Man, “the spirits of the seamen who linger about this place move me to prayer. I hear the creak of ropes as passing ships dip their topsails in homage to the Lady, and sailors petitioning for her special protection.”

    “I would not tell you what to believe,” said Reason, “but I can ask you to consider this. Your mind is deeply influenced by the superstitious perceptions of centuries of well-meaning but naive folk. Prisoners all of an ignorant society whose sole recourse was to a learning perpetrated and preserved by a priestly class bent upon maintaining its hold over a compliant laity. Throw yourself into the study of the world around you. There are natural wonders here, enough for a lifetime of study; and a million more tragedies crying out for remedy than can be embraced within the competence of a single man or a single generation. Look to the salvation of this world and abandon the chimera of the next.”
    “Maybe.” said the Young Man. He turned to the Old Person beside him, androgynously resplendent in a long coat of many colours, and battered Ugg boots. 
    “Would you say a prayer to the Lady?” he asked. 
    “No reason not to.” returned the Old Person.

    “And yet, my reason tells me that Reason is correct. There is so much suffering and sorrow in this world crying out for reform and repair. But, love is what I see with and what I see touches first the heart. The reasoning mind must always be our guide for without it we cannot contrive the good that we would do, but it is the heart that strikes the spark which fires the boiler of compassion. Look,” he said pointing across the bay as a great shaft of light pierced the dense mist over the water, “does the Lady gives us a sign? Or is that amazing radiance merely a meteorological phenomenon? A sudden off shore breeze, a parting of the sea fret so that the Winter sun for one glorious moment shines through?” He took Reason’s hand in his.
    “So long as we can in conscience each respect the other, does it matter which of us is correct?”  
    “Perhaps not,” answered Reason quietly, “I don’t suppose it does.”
The Young Man put an arm around each of them.
    “Amen, and thank God for that my brother and my sister."