Monday, 6 May 2013

WWI Poets - Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy

One of my heroes - and I think we all need heroes, for they, like Saints, encourage us to live, act and perhaps even die, well - is a priest who became famous by his praying with, and sending over the top, soldiers of the first world war with a New testament and a packet of Woodbines; giving him the nickname 'Woodbine Willie'.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was a man who was many things and it is in his honesty and his poetry that perhaps we find the truth to the lie that war is glorious and denial of the oft vaunted claim that the Church supports war. We (the Church) don't support or promote war, but where conflict is to be found, we are always there (and have always been), the priests (and others) whose engagement in the conflict is that of offering support for (all) the combatants.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy is one of those and as the plaque (see April's blog entry on 'Woodbine Willie') in Worcester Cathedral so rightly states, this is a man who was:

A Poet:
A Prophet:
A Passionate Seeker After Truth:
An Ardent Advocate Of Christian Fellowship 

And it is to one of his poems that I turn here:

Come unto Me
It sounds like mockery,
A voice that calls a wounded man
Across a weary space
He cannot travel o'er;
For we would come to Thee,
We long to see Thy face,
But we are wounded sore,
And evermore
Our weakness binds us,
Darkness blinds us,
We stretch our hands out vainly toward the shore,
Where Thou art waiting for Thine own.
We groan, and try, and fail again,
We cannot come--we are but men,
Come Thou to us, O Lord.
Come Thou and find us.

Shepherd of the sheep,
We cannot come to Thee.
It is so dark.
But hark,
I hear a voice that sounds across the sea.
"I come."

A man with whom I am proud to say I share both cap badge and calling.

dona eis requiem

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