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

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006
    It's a long way off, but...
     
    R S Thomas describes The Kingdom this way:

    It's a long way off, but inside it
    There are quite different things going on:
    Festivals at which the poor man
    Is king and the consumptive is
    Healed: mirrors in which the blind look
    At themselves and love looks at them
    Back: and industry is for mending
    The bent bones and the minds fractured
    By life. It's a long way off, but to get
    There takes no time and admission,
    Is free, if you will purge yourself
    Of desire and present yourself with
    Your need only and the simple offering
    Of your faith, green as a leaf


    We heard these wonderful words read, in English, at Dafydd's mostly Welsh-spoken funeral in Bangor Cathedral today.

    Dafydd, BBC man, discoverer of Aled Jones; Dafydd, church-man, friend and inspiration to hundreds of young people in the many youth worker roles he has played through the years; Dafydd, more recently better-known in the principality for his fundraising and profile-raising work with prostrate cancer, which has claimed him so young; Dafydd, who only last month, in a deeply moving ceremony in Llanbedgrog, was welcomed as a full member into the Iona Community, which he has served so well and been a friend of for many years.

    That's why I was there today, because I know Dafydd from his days running The Mac, days in which I was made welcome by his hospitality, amused and stimulated by his conversation, given insight into leadership by his vigorous, maverick, stirring style, and where we found common ground celebrating the Liverpool-Welshness of us both in a place where the abused term 'Celtic Christianity' meant (and still means) something current, something urgent, something gritty, something urban.

    The cathedral was full today for a celebration of Dafydd's life, which must have meant 300-plus people. It was a service tense with bilingualism: mostly in Welsh, those of us lacking the keys to the language of heaven had to guess at the content of the many tributes. But it was clear from the sparkles in peoples eyes and the ripples of fond recognition and laughter that the spirit of a distinctive man was present, and being affirmed, in an otherwise cold, dreary place.

    It's a long way off, but...

    In his 52 years Dafydd influenced the cultural life of more than one small nation, and better still, made a positive difference to hundreds of individuals. Not without struggling, falling-out and fighting; not without deep pain, nevertheless he did his best to look out for the Kingdom, and brought alive the meaning in the but.

    [Read Tom Allen's tribute to Dafydd here]