There are a number of poems and other reflections below, some of which also carry links directly to the poets’ own web-pages, should you wish to explore some of their other writings.

This week’s poem is ‘Answered Prayer’ by Kathleen Norris

I came to your door
with soup and bread.
I didn’t know you
but you were a neighbour
in pain: and a little soup and bread,
I reasoned, never hurt anyone.

I shouldn’t reason.
I appeared the day
your divorce was final:
a woman, flushed with cooking
and talk, and you watched,
Fascinated,
coiled like a spring.

You seemed so brave and lonely
I wanted to comfort you like a child.
I couldn’t of course.
You wanted to ask me too far in.

It was then I knew
it had to be like prayer.
We can’t ask
for what we know we want:
we have to ask to be led
someplace we never dreamed of going,
a place we don’t want to be.

We’ll find ourselves there
one morning,
opened like leaves,
and it will be all right.

As churches across the country prepare to reopen for socially-distanced worship and private prayer, we’ve found ‘Church Going’ by Philip Larkin particularly pertinent. It includes the wonderful lines:

It pleases me to stand in silence here…
… A serious house on serious earth it is


Two of our other favourite poems for this challenging time are printed in full below, but why not also take a look at:

The Sun, by Mary Oliver
Deflections in early summer, by Betty Shepherd
How Quiet, by Judith Harris
The Way It Is, by William Stafford

Some other poems we love are:
I will not live an unlived life, by Dawna Markova
I go among trees, by Wendell Berry
Let Evening Come, by Jane Kenyon
In, by Ana Lisa de Jong
Pandemic, by Lynn Ungar

In his book, Benedictus, John O’Donohue has written this lovely poem, ‘This is the time to be slow‘. Click here for a link to an audio file of the poem, read by Fergal Keane on Radio 4.

In the Dark (Robin Fulton Macpherson, b. 1937)

God said: Let the dark be dark.
Let the stars shine properly.
And let the darkness with no stars
heal the damage caused by light.

Men said: Let there be light all
night through, where there is no-one
much or no-one at all, let
the gathered haze from street-lamps,
undying brand-names, full-blaze
unpopulated windows
stain the undersides of clouds
even when nights are cloudless.

God said: Light itself needs rest.
Some things are best seen, unseen,
in darkness unhindered by
Great Light. Me, for example.

.

Pandemic (by Lynn Ungar)

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

A theological thought about the impact of the Coronavirus on both society at large and our own spiritual journeys – produced by the Friends of St Levan, in Cornwall.