It was like a church to me. I entered it on soft foot, Breath held like a cap in the hand. It was quiet. What God was there made himself felt, Not listened to, in clean colours That brought a moistening of the eye, In movement of the wind over grass. There were no prayers said. But stillness Of the heart's passions -- that was praise Enough; and the mind's cession Of its kingdom. I walked on, Simple and poor, while the air crumbled And broke on me generously as bread.
No country church, no walls soaked with prayers, no deep dive into the interiority, no words, just the silence of nature. One of the poet’s themes has been that God is to be found in the natural world; we should not seek to divide flesh and spirit. The Word was made flesh. The Word made the world. It is mankind that needs redemption. Just as, on entering church, a man removes his hat, so here on the Moor, the poet holds his breath. Here we feel God, in the silences, in the colours, in the wind over the grass. Just as the poet responds to the intimations of God on the Moor, so we, as we wait, in the silence, open ourselves to what follows from the command “be still and know I am God.”
Not here the conscious working of the praying mind, instead there is a stilling of the passions of the heart, the cessation of the intellect’s questioning. Not to the intellectual nor the curious, but to the simple and poor is the kingdom of God revealed. We have eyes, but they do not seem ears but the do not hear. But out there, on the Moor, or in the forest, when words fail before the grandeur of what the Word has made, we can, if we are still, meet him as we do in the breaking of the bread. It is a communion, just not the one to which we are accustomed.
I have stood among the trees, I have listened without asking. I have stood on the cliff top, looking out to sea, and on the moors looking out on the vastness of the works of God. In those moments there are intimations of immortality. But even as the mind tries to capture this intangible into the one means we have to communicate it – words – something is lost. But as the song has it, something is lost, and something is gained, in living every day.
There is an #adventbookclub using “Frequencies of God” by Carys Walsh and you can support the publisher by buying it here: https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786220882/frequencies-of-god. We’ll be running this club on Twitter and Facebook, and you are welcome to join in with thoughts and comments. Other folk doing this are https://grahart.wordpress.com/, and https://becausegodislove.wordpress.com/ so please pop over and read their thoughts too!