Poetry, silence and the common ground

By Jill Segger
June 14, 2016

Last week, a social media conversation with a Catholic and and Anglican on the subject of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry concluded with the Anglican (who like me, is a devotee of the priest-poet), observing “ Ecumenism through the medium of poetry. This is easier than we thought!”

He had touched – partly in jest – on a profound truth: Poetry, like silence, offers an opportunity to find the common ground, to sidestep the obstacles that we create from insecurities, anger and difference, and to be surprised by joy. Surprise puts us momentarily off-balance and that is an excellent condition for momentum.

Silence is not-speaking intensified; poetry is heightened speech. Both have the capacity to fix the transient and personal and to transform it into the eternal and universal. For we are both more alike and more alive to “the things that are” than the quotidian round sometimes permits us to recognise. Both attentive silence and humble openness to poetry have the power to still the ugly clamour and open a space where we may learn to be siblings in truth and in possibility.

Whether as readers or writers, poetry is therefore the business of all people of faith and of goodwill It is heartening to see faith bodies playing their part. If I wore a hat, I would raise it to Manchester Cathedral http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23156

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© Jill Segger is an Associate Director of Ekklesia with particular involvement in editorial issues. She is a freelance writer who contributes to the Church Times, Catholic Herald, Tribune, Reform and The Friend, among other publications. Jill is an active Quaker. See: http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/TQig/Jill-Segger You can follow Jill on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.co/quakerpen

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