Thursday, 2 October 2008

Thoughts on ministering to the older generation.

I came across this poetic reflection by the priest-poet RS Thomas. It says something quite profound about ministry to the auld yins which makes up a fair chunk of the clerical task in the SEC these days. Thought it was worth sharing with the world.

The Echoes Return Slow” by RS Thomas

The cure of souls! Congregations tend to get older. There is no cure for old age. And the old tend to be sick. When one should be leading them on to peer into the future, one is drawn back by them into the past. The Visitation of the Sick! A ministry more credible because more noticeable than the cure of souls.

They keep me sober,
The old ladies
Stiff in their beds,
Mostly with pale eyes
Wintering me.
Some are like blonde dolls
Their joints twisted;
Life in its brief play
Was a bit rough.
Some fumble
With thick tongue for words’
And are deaf;
Shouting their faint names.
I listen;
They are far off,
the echoes return slow.

But without them,
Without the subdued light
Their smiles kindle,
I would have gone wild,
Drinking earth’s huge draughts
Of joy and woe.

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