Since then I have done a lot more writing, a bit more thinking, and am now of the view that purposelessness is fine – in fact, it may be the point. This blog, then, is to be a place of wandering and wondering. In my writing (both poetry and journalism) I will be asking lots of questions of people, of God, of the church, all without necessarily having the answers. And when I do come to conclusions, these can and should be questioned again. Please go ahead: please change my mind.
The title quote above is a truncated version of lines by Tennyson: 'There lives more faith in honest doubt,/ Believe me, than in half the creeds.’ He wrote them out of grief at a friend’s death at a time when he too was asking many questions. Perhaps to tell the truth sometimes means saying I don’t know.
In this spirit of poetry and faith and questioning, I start this new season of blogging with a poem I wrote for an event in my home city of Winchester which celebrated the 900 year anniversary of Hyde Abbey. The background image to this blog is taken from an ancient manuscript found in the Abbey. It depicts the resurrected Christ and Mary Magdalene at the tomb and bears the inscription ‘Noli me tangere’ (‘Do not cling to me’ in Latin, the words John’s gospel attribute to Jesus at this encounter). But the Scripture doesn’t speak of her ever touching him – is Jesus warning her not to, or does the text leave their embrace out? What else is missing from Scripture? This poem about the Bible and our creative response to it is written using a medieval alliterative form….
Noli me tangere
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me…”
The pair are painted pale as papermen,
their eyes like the empty tomb
as his spotted hand speculates hers
barely reaching from her breast,
fingers fluttering up to his,
all making for so sedate a scene
as if the clawing nails, the clamping
arms, at his waist the warm wet
breath as if she would bury
her very heart in him,
had been traded in translation.
That’s unless this is a moment more –
his hovering hand
a final grazing grace?