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Our Thin Places

Most of us have a special place where we feel a sense of peace or of awe, somewhere that is sacred to us. Perhaps it is a favourite mountain, an old church, a coastal walk or an particular art gallery. The early Celtic Christians thought there were thin places where the sacred felt very close. Bath Abbey used to have the strap line “where heaven & earth meet” & many people think that Iona or Lindisfarne have holy feeling, a numinous air & light.

In his poem Llananno, the Welsh poet & priest RS Thomas writes of the joy of turning off the main road to visit the church at Llananno & waiting beside the water for “the serene presence”. One of my thin places is Ramsholt church in Suffolk. It is set in an ancient churchyard, has a round tower & overlooks the River Deben. Some of you will know it. Partly inspired by Llananno, I have written a poem reflecting my love of the ancient church across the river from Lark Rise.

Ramsholt Church

Going there has become a sacred journey of old memories, enduring loves, hopes freshened by the soughing breeze .

For there the air holds holy history, cleanses and smells of salt and earth and is my ruach, a quiet freedom.

There weathered, centuries old headstones Lean in the windswept ground reminding us of our own mortality.

There the external beauty of the setting, amid familiar Scots pines, above the estuary’s ebb & flow, reveals an inner simplicity – a light filled holiness.

White washed walls and deal box-pews, unembellished, simple serenely wait for pilgrims seeking sanctuary.

The track there leads on but becomes a “Private Road”, a place a secret thoughts and unspoken prayers.

There I can stop in stillness, find peace in the hallowed walls, Watch clouds scudding passed the round tower’s pink hue.

I have gone there with picnics, bustle, family, friend  and prayers, also alone and cried to God, to the wind, to those I have loved.

 

Mellow, isolated, sacred and beautiful There I can sit, in peace, at home.

Think about somewhere sacred to you & rejoice in it!

Copyright Jane Pearse August 2023

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