Thinking about English Primary education, trees, writing and cycling.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Between mountain and sea
They wound me and bless me with strange gifts
The salt of absence The honey of memory
I wonder how many people these days feel the resonance of the words wound and bless that occur at the climax of this deceptively simple poem? (the full text is a couple of posts back) There was a time when almost everyone would have recognized that the words, used in conjunction, have a religious significance. I cannot hear them without thinking of the images of Jesus that haunted my Catholic childhood, one hand raised in blessing, the other indicating a chest apparently split by a gaping wound which reveals a beating heart within, and which echoes that other wound, the one in Jesus's side which Thomas felt obliged to test by inserting his fingers.
Strangely though, I stopped believing in God when I was seven years old, about the time when I made my first confession and God took no punitive action when I failed to admit all my sins. I then proceeded to take my first communion with my soul still stained. I say strangely because I find it hard to imagine myself as a seven-year-old taking that decision about the nature of the universe, and yet I know for sure that I did. And I subsequently continued my career as an altar-boy, both at the local church and in the convent behind our house where I served Mass every morning for several years, absorbing incense and Latin in equal quantities, but the sky never did fall on my head.