On a crisp November morning
when your house, assured and spacious,
relaxed in russet sunshine
and the odours of the autumn
you welcomed me.
And all around the pale, polished rooms music waited;
the mute spinet spread with just-played airs;
pavanes and casual fugues left elegantly hanging
And as I watched
you danced, with words, a delicate gavotte,
ancient and unchanged,
tracing with rapt care the long-loved patterns you had learnt.
Then, holding out a hand, you gently steered me towards the ballroom,
...and here I should have set my feet,
to follow the unspoken rules.
But I was wild and wicked
and the winter wind ran laughing through my hair,
spinning jigs and reels around my head.
And rising from the moon-drawn sea,
mischief and miracle have given birth to laughter,
unfurled like white wings,
holy and hovering,
riding the thermals of a God-breathed world.
Apologies are empty gifts
- but nonetheless -
I would have danced your straight lines and sharp corners
if I were not so stumbling,
ungraced in your ballroom.
And so, sighing,
all I offer are some wind-whirled steps
and slender, flexing faith,
love-launched from the high cliffs.
When I was going through the process of selection for training and ordination, women couldn't yet be ordained as priests - the debate which would eventually lead to the vote permitting it was often very heated . Those of us entering selection and training (as deacons, which was the only role open to us) often found ourselves coming up against opposition, sometimes from the people who were part of the selection process itself. This poem was written after an interview with someone very significant in the selection process (who I won't name!) He was very gracious and kind, but explained to me that, though he was part of the Church's selection process, he was personally opposed to the ordination of women as priests because he "erred on the side of tradition." The phrase stuck with me, summing up an attitude which all women ordinands faced, and which the early generations of women priests have continued to face..
He really did have a spinet in the room where we met.
These poems are the fruit of almost 30 years of occasional writing. They were written as private reflections, or for friends and family. I hadn't intended them for public consumption, but people have told me now and then that they thought I should share them, so I have. I shall add new poems if and when I write them, though a lot of my words tend to go into sermons these days!
If you find something you like and find helpful, you are welcome to use it and share it, but please make sure my name stays attached to it.
The poems are posted in no particular order, but the labels - click on links below - should help you find poems on various themes.
There are also separate pages on this blog containing links to music composed by my husband, Philip, and to Christmas stories which I have told here at Seal in place of sermons on Christmas Day.