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The Saxon Shore

The Saxon Shore

The Saxon shore: the shingle clad beach shouts the sounds of the Sea.
Here Cedd the sinner, storm tossed, lost, came to build on the stones of Othona.
The Light lasting as Kings and Caearls made Saxon swirls
To break Roman rigidity in a fresh imagination.
So Cedd brought the spark to shelter in St. Peter’s name here, on the sibilant shore.

The word, illuminated in vellum volumes
Preached to the marsh dwellers by the Blackwater where the curlew calls.
Cuthbert, Cedd, Chad chanting the rituals of the hours and the days.
English then being born in the dark age, flaming into light
The vibrant vitality of intertwined imagery: riotous and rich.

As Barbarians slowly learning a language for the light,
So we struggle to find a name for our days and ways.
As the Saints we seek but do not find, the certainties we can save
Our age is uncertainty, yet still we fill the gaps with fantastical monsters
Dancing in the spaces where the truth is not written.

Then who could speak to us from the rising waves in the darkening storm of night?
Not Bryhtnoth, the courageous politician, cursing the Danegeld and lost beneath the waves upriver;
Nor yet those who would have compromised and paid for comfort with another’s gold.
Not the priestly hypocrites, also fat on other men’s toil.
Surely we must judge ourselves- perhaps most harshly- if ever we might find a haven.

Sent by Aidan from the shore of Lindisfarne, we might follow Cedd’s long pilgrimage.
In ignorance or in faith he worked within the world, though hoped beyond it.
Can we too find such grace, peace, serenity, in the face of the storm’s strong surge?
Yet shoreward, eventually, we must come; the sun setting crimson beyond the evening mist
But will we know where our life’s journey brought us?

The bewildering babble of our millennium hides the truth in so much data,
Where once the Saints –who had so little- sought to find any truth at all.
If we could know all we might know, would we have a greater truth than theirs?
Or would our understanding fail us, drowning in a complex sea?
Then the silence of this Chapel might speak loud at last.

October 2010


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