Where is that place apart
you summon us to? Noisily
we seek it and have no time
‘Wrong?’ is the title R.S. Thomas gives this poem. The question mark is important. It’s true enough, we – I – often have no time to stay in a ‘place apart’, like the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. Indeed getting there every week, let alone every day, requires some organising, and today the place was closed to visitors for a graduation!
Some will call this ‘wrong’, but is it? It’s the way things are, and no doubt it always was. After the murder of John the Baptist Jesus took his disciples to a place apart, but they were overtaken by the crowds, so that Jesus found himself teaching and feeding 5,000 men (not to count the women and children) Matthew 14.
Earlier he had taught them to pray thus:
Enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him. (Matthew 6:6-8)
Daniel’s praying quietly in his chamber (Daniel 6) did not prevent his enemies from denouncing him for praying to God, and then casting him to the lions.
Daniel’s quiet place was within his heart. Had he panicked in the lions’ den the angel would have had a hard job to hold them off!
R.S. Thomas concludes with God whispering to us of
aside through the invisible
veil that is about us into a state
not place of innocence and delight.
There are places on earth that seem to favour taking that step, let’s be grateful and spend time there when we can. Let’s also find quiet moments wherever we are to step through the veil, torn forever on Good Friday. (Matthew 27: 50-51)
 ‘Wrong?’ Selected Poems p287.