Thomas Keating-Jones . . . Poet
POEMS FROM OUR JOURNEY TO CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL
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
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 ?
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 “