It’s been a while since we heard from Sheila Billingsley, but then we have three seasonal posts: Christmas morning and now two poems for consecutive feasts: saint John the Evangelist today, tomorrow the Holy Innocents.
This is a fragment from an early papyrus copy of Saint John’s Gospel, held at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. Go and see it; it’s usually on show. We are told in chapters 20 and 21 that the signs that Jesus worked were witnessed by the disciples and written down ‘that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life through his name.
The evening sun has warmed the wall
At my back,
Soon to cool in the last of its light.
The eagle hovers,
All day it has been there
Circling ever higher, higher,
While I, sit like the ageing man that I am,
Watching the great bird,
Surely the great bird watches me?
Oh lift me, bird, on strong wings
Until I can look into the sun.
I could write.
I should write.
But what to write?
Watching you, bird, in your calm drifting
His voice returns,
His nearness touches.
Tell them that I Am the Beginning,
The start of everything.
Tell them that you knew me!
Tell, oh, tell of my Father and our Love.’
The sun is almost gone,
The bird, great eagle,
To its eyrie.
Now light the lamp,
Bring my papyrus,
Bring my pen …