Sitting on your bench Ted King
It’s been a long time
since I’ve thought of you
I’m sorry about that
Buried as you are here
just near this bench,
and in my heart.
Looked more like a Welsh lock forward you did
Bowing your head
through doorways and in prayers
you loved much more than rugby,
Though I saw you more than once
Stooping over altars on Sunday
I can see you so clearly
Though formidable in pulpit too
Breaking words with such finesse
– so delicate your knowledge
of human struggles and the love of God,
While holding the wafers
so gently in giant hands.
I was so small – the boatboy – remember me?
Carrying the incense
as though the Mass depended on me
Which it did – of course – to me
Parading so needily
through holy smoke and hallowed aisles
in snaking processions
hoping to catch God’s eye or maybe yours.
Came to our home sometimes,
pastorally you came
When something was wrong;
A sister’s illness,
a parent’s sadness,
the world’s badness.
You sat in our lounge
I couldn’t go in –
but saw from the door
more than I was told,
You listening and holding it all in
a sad and reverend pose.
Shaped many’s thinking, you did,
of God, through the 9.15 especially.
How the faithful gathered,
hanging on your words
and a liturgy
that fed their souls about
ways to cross the artificial barriers of sin,
age, race and sexual orientation
as God would expect, you’d say.
So human yet remote, you were –
maybe being so tall
made you hard to read, because you were
a reader’s mind within a pastor’s heart;
A worldly touch within a priestly world;
You were wise, you knew things,
saw films, said yes to protests
and rode a Vespa
(for heaven’s sake, with your cassock on!)
I discovered much later
How much you chose to sit in prayer
in corners alone, in your beloved Cathedral
for 30 years
away from it all
Though you yourself would be the first to say
Just how hard it is to
just being quiet
and your self.
And so you became a holy man
Modern mystic, teacher, thinker
A rare priest during
of struggle and darkness
Seeking hope and the ending of suffering.
From far, making home
under a Southern Cross, you
lived here, loved here
brought great light here
And now rest in quiet here
in St Raphael’s garden
next to your bench here
where I now sit
and thank God for you.
St Raphael’s Retreat House, Faure. 4th May 2012