-- Google Analytics START --> <-- Google Analytics END -->
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK
Saturday, February 08, 2003Alive in the Library The Corrymeela Community last November, Jan Sutch Pickard was taking a month's break from her role as warden of Iona Abbey. She spent it, unusually and interestingly, doing a sort-of pilgrimage of ancient texts - visiting libraries, pulling on special gloves to thumb through some of the most ancient and revered documents in our heritage, including the Book of Kells, and discovering the stories around their production.
Jan's a poet and editor of some distinction (you'll find some of her work at Wild Goose Publications) and has a lovely eye for detail. She can make - and has made - a subject which could be grey and dusty, into something colourful and alive.
I know this because at the end of November we met at Corrymeela, swopped a few thoughts about how our times had gone. And later I was delighted to receive some of Jan's poetic reflections on her month. With her permission, here's one of them:
Just as the snowdrop needs frost
to rest and to germinate,
so libraries need silence:
stacks of silent tomes
slippered feet, gloved hands,
Sometimes libraries surprise
with unlikely acquisitions:
a snoozing tramp amid newspapers;
eloquent love letters, penned
by hands long since crumbled into dust;
a harp not played in living hearing;
mummy cases opened like Russian dolls,
disclosing the child of an Egyptian priest
clenched in an aching silence.
What have these to do with books,
and the lively faith of their makers
whose daily work was sowing
symbols across the page?
What have these relics to do
with meaning coming through
like a green shoot Ð
entering our minds like a flight of birds?
Taciturn and tired folk, things worn out,
exhale the dead air of a treasure house;
meanwhile the held breath of a library
is not the silence of death
but of expectation.
The books are waiting for what will come next:
the books are waiting for the word to become flesh.