Sunday, 14 November 2010

Silence in the mind - with RS Thomas

I am trying to tidy up and as is so often the case I get sidetracked into actually looking at and then reading and now blogging about what I find in the various prehistoric levels of my desk and office.
Just now it is this poem by R. S. Thomas, it fits in beautifully with Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat Pray Love which I'm reading at the moment and also with conversations I had while at the Church of Ireland Christian Institute in Dublin at the end of last week. Silence, the search for prayer and contemplation, the freedom which that gives.
I once described my desire to live in community to a colleague and admitted that I would of course have been "a noisy, nosey nun". Yet the discipline and the outer quiet of monastic life still appeals to me greatly, partly of course because I know I would take my own inner noise and turmoil with me wherever I may be.

Many years ago at Great St Mary's in Cambridge I attended a poetry reading and conversation with R. S. Thomas. I remember a shy, self-effacing man, who tried hard to give what he felt were adequate answers to the students and professors present that evening, yet the rootedness of his poetry spoke for itself.

Today I came across this in a book I should be putting on a shelf but which I shall continue to flick through for a few moments longer before teh noise of teh mess in my office finally calls me back to attend to it.

But the silence in the mind

But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of teh silence we call God. This is the deep
calling to deep of the psalm-
writer, the bottomless ocean
We launch the armada of
thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins;
that calls us out over our
own fathoms. What to do
but draw a little nearer to
such ubiquity by remaining still?

1 Comment:

Deirdre said...

How wonderful that you encountered and heard R. S. Thomas in the flesh. And thanks for posting this wonderful poem.