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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, October 17, 2002
    On Waldo
     
    [Blogging on from yesterday's theme...] What appeals to me about Wales and Welshness is the rich culture deeply embued with a sense of the peripheral, which gives it licence to be daring, different, critical, anarchistic.

    I lead the occasional service at our local Welsh Congregation although I don't have the language (they put up with my preaching in English, and in the hymns and Lord's Prayer I follow them half-a-word behind). And I find refreshment being among such nonconformists for awhile. It gives me licence to dig into the tradition - or at least, those parts of the tradition which have been Anglicised.

    And what a rich tradition it is. Reading the latest Planet [The Welsh Internationalist] today I gain energy from an account of the Quakers in Wales - still deeply involved in protesting for peace and justice, risking prison for putting their beliefs into practice at Greenham Common, Faslane, Menwith, and so on. And I'm drawn again into the life and work of the great twentieth-century Pembrokeshire poet Waldo Williams, who, the article tells me, withheld taxes as a protest against military spending, and as a consequence he lost his teaching job and had all his furniture seized:
      His effects were then auctioned - but his local Friends meeting turned out in numbers and bought them all back for him. The bailiffs could do nothing, as the meeting now owned the goods.
    On this day which has otherwise been taken up with anxious clergy meetings I returned to Williams' great collection-in-translation, The Peacemakers, and find it again, a source of strength and vision:
      [GOD]

      He does not stand devising consummate design
      From our affliction. Look, he runs to us, and
      Secretly, with a secret may not be unlocked,
      Gives the help of his hand.

        (from 'Why I am a Quaker', 1956)