St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Church of Scotland, Sutherland, (photo above) is where I served from 1983-1988. A beautiful white stoned building and if those walls could speak perhaps they would tell stories, not so much of ministers, but of village folk who from birth to death lived believing, lived praying, lived hoping. Their faith and trust in God not built just for sunny days and good seasons but for all weathers, joy and grief, life and death, promise and betrayal.
It was amongst the hills of Wales and the rural villages and farming folks that R.S. Thomas lived as an Anglican cleric. I know him only as a poet. As I have said before, his poetry speaks of faith but also of doubt. He believes in God yet everywhere he feels God’s absence, perhaps he says it’s in the absence that we actually find God! Today, I share with you what I consider a powerful poem. Listen carefully to the words Thomas chooses and notice the line breaks and the sudden reversal of the poem in those last six lines. Perhaps its time to keep silent and remain waiting.

Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God   
To speak; the air a staircase   
For silence; the sun’s light   
Ringing me, as though I acted   
A great role. And the audiences   
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,   
Though it be you who speak   
Through me, something is lost.   
The meaning is in the waiting. R.S. Thomas

Holy God,
help me to pause in this moment
to savor the silence,
to be still.
In this stillness may my soul rest.
In this silence might I listen to
your Holy whisper.
Help be to be done with
explanations and definitions
so that I might mull the mystery,
ponder the possibility, and be
grounded by your grace,
today and tomorrow. Amen.

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