A frantically busy week at work meant that I didn't get the time to make my 'egg' post for Theme Thursday. So, here I am on Good Friday, wondering what to blog about.
I went to church today. That's not unusual for me, but today was different. I took the train up to London and went to Southwark Cathedral. The altar had been stripped bare. Statues and pictures were veiled. Candles stood unlit and the lights had been extinguished. (The heating was off, too.) The normally bright, colourful space was dull and grey. Even the stained glass seemed muted. People gathered in silence.
There was no robed procession, no choir. There were hymns, a sermon, a simple prayer, Bach on the organ and silence. The Canon Pastor spoke about death.
And as he spoke, grief both old and new welled up in me.
And it was painful. And the tears came.
And then he read this poem
I built my house by the sea
Not on the sands, mind you,
Not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.
A strong house by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted,
The sea and I.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences,
Respectful, keeping our distance
But looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always the fence of sand our barrier,
Always the sand between.
And then one day
(And I still don’t know how it happened)
the sea came.
Without welcome, even.
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine.
Less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight, and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
But while I thought the sea crept higher until it reached my door.
And I knew there was neither flight, nor death nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling you stop being good neighbours
Well acquainted, friendly from a distance neighbours.
And you give your house for a coral castle
And you learn to breathe underwater.
Carol Bialock, Chile, 1975.
And I smiled. Because I think I am learning to breathe underwater too.