Some wisdom to begin the year: from Welsh poet R.S.Thomas

I am gazing through our wide bay window towards the shadowy hills, as city lights illuminate a cold, rainy early January night. That window, come Monday and Epiphany, will be very bare: our magical nine-foot tree will be no more. Where will all its jewels of multi-coloured reflection go? Back to the ‘Otherworld’, the Romantic in me thinks. Waiting, waiting for another year……

To distract myself from this post-Festive melancholy, I start tidying my workroom – and find a different kind of jewel. In the wonderful poetry anthology sent to me from Zane, the charity which does such sterling work in Zimbabwe, I come across a poem which perfectly fits my mood: a reminder that moments of  transitory joy in life, fleeting as they are, are to be cherished –

Let us not rush through 2014 so much that we forget to pause, to notice, should a fleeting glimpse of the brightness of Eternity come our way….

A fleeting light.....
A fleeting light…..

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.


(From Laboratories of the Spirit, published by MacMillan. © Kunjana Thomas)


300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/R.S. Thomas 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page




Cheer up, it’ll soon(-ish) be Spring!

In the last year I have intermittently been reading my way through the work of  that well-known writer, broadcaster and former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway. Whilst leafing through a slim collection of  poems sent to us supporters of the charity ZANE at the end of last year, I came across the following quotation from his work.

In my current January mood, as I sit here in my life, grumpy, with a metaphorical blanket pulled over my head, these words speak powerfully to me: I offer them to my fellow January-ites out there, with the thought that it really, truly, will soon be Spring….

St Magnus Cathedral Window, Orkney
St Magnus Cathedral Window, Orkney

photo: Anne Whitaker

“This is my dilemma. I am dust and ashes, frail and wayward, a set of predetermined behavioural responses, … riddled with fear, beset with needs…the quintessence of dust and unto dust I shall return…. But there is something else in me…. Dust I may be, but troubled dust, dust that dreams, dust that that has strong premonitions of transfiguration, of a glory in store, a destiny prepared, an inheritance that will one day be my own…so my life is spread out in a painful dialectic between ashes and glory, between weakness and transfiguration. I am a riddle to myself, an exasperating enigma…this strange duality of dust and glory.”


(NOTE: Having googled this quotation, I discovered that it has got around, and some of the wording varies slightly depending on who is quoting! So I hope Richard Holloway will forgive me any minor errors which may appear in this version, whilst I track down the exact quote, in the precise book in which it appears….)

Richard F. Holloway (born 26 November 1933) is a Scottish writer and broadcaster and was formerly Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church. To read more about him and his writing, click HERE


300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Richard Holloway 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page