Canterbury Cathedral




Thomas Keating-Jones  . . . Poet










The Glimmering Windows

The windows are bright and colourful
You can make out the story
following the pictures that you find.

Details show the past is there.
The candles flicker
when you put in your prayer.

It is ready to keep it
and send it to God.




The Prayer song


Thomas Keating-Jones


The people are singing,

the whole cathedral is filled
with beautiful music and prayers.

It stopped me .
My body could hear
the beautiful notes that they sing.

It caught my ear
and I started singing
without even knowing
that I was joining in

a prayer song.





People have been coming on pilgrimages to Canterbury for centuries and today’ our adventure was a pilgrimage, well a drive and picnic to see Canterbury Cathedral with the family. It is of course famous for the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and referenced by Charles Dickens and then Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot to name a few.

It is one of the oldest and most famous  Christian structures in England. Foundered in 597 AD  and rebuilt and blessed in 1070 AD. It was originaly a Benedictine monastic community. Its architecture is breath-taking.

A pivotal moment in its history was the murder of Thomas Becket,  Archbishop to Henry 2nd He received 4 stabs to the back by 4 knights of  the King,  just after dawn at the first Mass  of the day 29th December 1170,



To continue my pilgrimage with Hildegard of Bingen and my continuing research for my book . . . It was in 1170 that Hildegard received word in Bingen of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket . She heard of his holiness and courage and his murder via artisans travelling for work. It energised her to rise up for one last missionary journey and travel to Cologne to lecture once more against greed and corruption and power of the Church.

Sound familiar ?

What’s changed?

Hildegard has given her life to make us listen and see. She was in her 70 ‘s and  her body was tired but she set out one last time to warn people to listen to the Light .  For me the Canterbury cloisters being around 12th century caught my attention because the cloisters of Hildegard’s Church were destroyed in the Thirty Year War in the 14th century and over the centuries little is left to imagine.



Now I kneel at the altar where the murder took place and reflect on this sculpture of suffering above. The black metal fluted cross and the swords hanging from the wounds and shadowed on the wall behind is very compelling.

Below the altar in the paved stones is the word Thomas.

Today it is appropriate to have my grandson Thomas sitting on the paved stone near me with his fingers curving through the printed words  Thomas.




We together light a candle and Thomas closes his eyes and prays. I didn’t try to eavesdrop his whispered mumbling, except his last words came louder  and thank you for the world . Amen “ 



A Solitary Tomato Plant

“There was a pact between us . . .
not just to survive
we will thrive”

At the time of writing this poem I was struggling with a few life issues and being out in the sun , in the garden with the herbs and the birds I realised how wonderful it was to be alive and to be strong and I had a new feeling to live life to the fullest.

tomato-plant-17042009aa (1)

a solitary tomato plant

feast your eyes on the green a healing colour
said hildegard of bingen

let its thousand shades and dappled ways
imbue your eyes
give resilience

i carry her words into my garden
plant out chilli chives and coriander
zucchini lettuce of different kin and basil

and a solitary weedy tomato plant from the throw-out table
there’s a pact between us
not just to survive
we will thrive

i prepare the soil with extra blood-and-bone
gently plant it out settle it in
with stakes for it to climb
circle with sawdust to ward off those
that love to munch

under the sprinkler
its limp leaves uncurl
sit up so vibrantly
i hear it grow

in the garden I come alive
the soil
and its rich textured compost
feel good

I marvel
my scraps now this wonder
the worms
have worked their magic

a kookaburra sits above
a magpie stalks
turned soil their turn on

smell of sun-warmed grass
lightly so lightly wafts
i stand stretch watch a white butterfly hover

in shorts and sleeveless top
i enjoy the sun
resilient in my gardening boots and gloves
i manoeuvre the wheel-barrow
and we patiently wait to bloom