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

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006
    Pleasures of the Far East
     
    One of the greatest pleasures of my tour of the Far East (of Yorkshire) was discovering St Patrick's Church, Patrington, and its hinterland, the long, low, flatlands emerging (just about) from the wide Humber and the vast, deceptively violent North Sea. The church itself could be a cathedral, for its beauty and its light. And it's no dead monument - the reredos with carvings of our great saints is quite modern. There's not much in any church that brings me to my knees in devotion these days. This did:

    I kneel at the altar rail
    of the Queen of Holderness
    Kneeling beneath great Saints of the North:
    Patrick, of course, Columba, Aidan, Hilda, Bede
    And Cuthbert holding a severed head;
    Kneeling in this illumined place:
    Full of Estuary light
    Spilling through ancient windows
    From wide blue Humber skies.
    I kneel at this still point
    Sensing the measured steal of the centuries
    In which Holderness moves
    Outwards from here,
    Out, along drainage channels
    Out, along straight shining roads
    To lonely Sunk Island
    And the shimmering flats of Stone Creek
    Where I will kneel again
    On a slither of land
    Enfolded
    In air; in light.