Monday, October 17, 2005

Walks in the dark

Since I was a child, I have loved to go out in the countryside and night, to look at the stars and marvel at the play of moonlight on the landscape. I came across the Taizé chant 'De noce iremos de noce' around the time of writing this, during a camping holiday with my son's school class on the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, South Wales. I don't remember which came first. Roughly translated, the full Spanish text, from Teresa of Avila, reads: 'We go by night, in search of the spring, with only our thirst to guide us.'


"I'll show you the spring" the child said
standing in the pool of light his torch made,
where the pathway started to descend into the shadows.
And so we walk together, he leading the way,
courteously naming the obstacles and hazards
as we speed beneath the waxing moon.
Along the foreshore, where the river wound
its slow way down to the waiting sea,
turning inland, through marshy reeds
here and there, squelching and slipping underfoot.

"Here's a rock" he calls quietly, "and another"
as we bound across a small stream
glimpsing the light of heaven in its swift waters.
There in the rising wall of sandy hills
in the valley narrowing before us,
an unexpected opening, leafy and dark:
a well worn track, now climbing gently into thick woods,
my young companion eager and constant to encourage,
throwing his pale beam, first ahead,
and then reassuringly towards my feet.

Over a trampled fence, into the trees,
dogs now barking, ominous and near;
we, breathless at the pace, excited:
somewhere near at hand, the sound of water
in the stillness of the night.
A turning to the right, diving deep into ferns,
and suddenly we descend steeply
to a hidden grove, standing by a shining pool in darkness
side by side, companions in wonderment.

Cool refreshment for face and tired feet.
Moon on water: scent of herb and damp moss.
He stands shyly aside, his words fewer than mine,
sharing his delight at the heart of this holy secret.

JKK, Three cliffs bay, Gower, July 1988


On the night of writing this, there was no artificial light, and no moon to be seen, and few discernable landmarks. The darkness was intense, powerful, questioning - so full of no-thing, it made me wonder.


July's moon hid somewhere behind
the bright mantle of the noonday sun.
Only starlight gives the heavens form by night.

To flee alone from the glamour of taverna and street light
into the quiet folds of hillside and olive grove
is to step outside of the race of time -
to visit a plane where everything may be imagined ...

The perpetual symphony of frogs and insects
in this celestial auditorium
accompanies the birth of gods and elementals
angels and demons, powers and stratagems
from the inwardness of senses suspended in being.

In this darkness courage and resolve are forged,
the fate of multitudes shaped, destiny embraced.

It is to visit a plane where everything may be imagined
or nothing - for there is a choice.

The filling or the emptying of self in the darkness.
The nurturing of the desire to do, or let be done.

Who am I? stripped of defining light:
rendered naked of form and colour? But,
not yet emptied of dreams and longings;
tempted by ambitions hard to define.

What is conceived in darkness
is revealed by the probe of day.

JKK 14.7.96


This is about walking in the darkness within when disappointments and disillusion sap the self-esteem, when the reality of 'for better, for worse' is painfully exposed. Yet somehow faith affirmed carries the promise of all things made new.


Winter- painfully cold,
bare ground windswept
broken dead branches
morass of trodden leaves-
frozen castaways.

Darkness lasts an age.
Each day sprints its pale way
and the moon rules.

We see each other not by daylight
in this severest season
of our companionship.

So many memories, hopes, feelings
now broken underfoot.
But we shall see clearer in the day
of the returning sun.

underground,and long before the sap
considers rising
the agonising chemistry of humus
by stealth renews the earth

making possible the greening
that is yet to come.

JKK 16.12.86

1 comment:

Rethabile said...

Very nice. I'm a friend of Valdo's from Lesotho and came to read about the Waldensians. Couldn't help reading some of the poetry.