|Lewis nature reserve (image credit)|
The spiritual world is as real and present at all times as the material world, but at particular times and places we may become more aware of that deeper level of reality. ‘Thin places’ are the places where heaven and earth can be felt as palpably intersecting, where the Kingdom of Heaven feels genuinely ‘at hand,’ as if we could turn a corner or push open an unlatched door and enter in.
I wrote ‘Broceliande’ after a stay in Oxford and the discovery that the fields and forests of Oxford were a ‘thin place’ for me. One of the images here comes from my reading of Charles Williams’ poetry cycle, Taliessin Through Logres, in which the forest Broceliande mystically connects all times and places. One of the things that reading Williams has done is to push me to reconsider my assumptions about time and space. Here is my poem; you can read the rest of my reflection, and hear my reading of the poem, on my blog Hieropraxis.
(walking the Lewis Reserve, January 2012)
Today I walked in woods that Jack once knew
And loved. I thought I was a stranger here,
That this was just a visit, passing through.
Not so. In blood and bone I feel the near
And lively presence of the well-loved past.
The woods of my New England childhood, clear
In memory, bright but far, are here. The forest
Intersects each time and place: this is
Broceliande. I feel a joy unguessed
To walk these strange familiar paths, and with
The joy, the ache of sudden love. I know
These tangled ferns, this squelchy trodden path,
The whisper-crunch of leaves, the fallen boughs
Green-furred with moss; this steeply rising hill
Is Oxford with New England’s granite bones.
The wood is thick with holly, green and tall:
A tree not native to my native land,
But rooted here for me, my namesake still.