Posts Tagged ‘R S Thomas’


Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017


Reading Rowan Williams The Wound of Knowledge. It is so difficult to find something spiritual which I can stomach.

The first point he makes is the radical and shocking otherness of the Christ event. At the time no one in their right mind could have imagined such a divine intervention.

But then ‘otherness’ is, more often than not I think, the first striking characteristic of an experience of God.

He is the Wholly Other, beyond anything we could ever have imagined.

Likewise his actions. He reveals himself not in powerful theophanies but in weakness and failure.

Not an attractive notion, not an idea one can comfortably welcome.

We are all too aware 0f our insufficiency, of the three brute facts of existence – powerlessness, contingency and scarcity.

The last idea we would want to welcome is one which counters our instinctive drive for autonomy,

to achieve some measure of power and control over our own lives.

Nietzsche despised what he considered Christian weakness and quite rightly said,

‘God is dead’,

i.e. the kind of god he imagined God to be, a God of power and might.

Such a god never existed, though he continues to exist in the imaginations of such as Richard Dawkins.

The drive for power, autonomy and control must always end in failure because of the contingency of our existence.

What Jesus revealed was a way of being which ultimately leads to transcendence. The God Jesus revealed is utterly transcendent and at the same time immediately present in the act of loving.

God does not exist over and against us, out there, up there.

God is encountered within, within oneself, within Himself.

In  the mornings I sit in darkness,

darkness without, darkness within,


Half remembered lines of R S Thomas come and go.

He too knew this darkness, this absence, this silence.

It is a sacred time,

a time of stillness, of expectancy,

like the withdrawing water, the hush,

before the incoming wave smothers the shore.

No sign of the wave yet,

but it’s out there –



Sunday, September 27th, 2015

For me now

there is only the God-space

into which I send out

my probes. I had looked forward

to old age as a time

of quietness, a time to draw

my horizons about me,

to watch memories ripening

in the sunlight of a walled garden.

But there is the void

over my head and the distance

within that the tireless signals

come from. And astronaut

on impossible journeys

to the far side of the self

I return with messages

I cannot decipher . . . R S Thomas

“… it probably sounds very pretentious when I say the I feel impelled to explain my inner processes to all mankind.

Not to some individual in a private conversation but to all mankind, yes, to all of them…

It is nonsense of course, sitting at my desk and making a fool of myself because I can’t find the right words,

but sometimes I feel as if everything I experience deep down is not just for me, that I have no right to keep it to myself, that I must account for it…

As if in this tiny slice of human history I were one of the many receiving sets which have to retransmit messages.”

(Etty: The Letters and Diaries of Etty Hillesom 1941 – 1943, Smelik, K.A.D ed, Eerdmans, Cambridge 2002, p. 393)