23 April 2019
In one of his poems, RS Thomas talks about meeting a man on a journey ‘whose eyes declare: /There is no God.’ He encourages the traveller to pay no attention because there are others on the journey:
With the same creed, whose lips yet utter
Friendlier greeting, men who have learned
To pack a little of the sun’s light
In their cold eyes, whose hands are waiting
For your hand.
We have met them too – nameless strangers who radiate a little warmth, a little sunshine and who welcome us into their presence. They have discovered that there is something more important than religion and that’s our common humanity.
The poet advises us not to linger. ‘A smile is payment.’ He says. ‘The road runs on.’ He continues. ‘With many turnings towards the tall Tree to which the believer is nailed.’
There is a more eloquent witness to the power of love than the words of the evangelist and that’s the tall tree – the cross bearing, the forgetting of self, the suffering for the good of another!
Love is what unites. Love is not the preserve of Christians nor Muslims nor Jews but our common humanity. But the Tall Tree reminds us that Christianity has something deeper to offer in the one who suffers and dies for the other.