Turning aside

Both sun and rain were intermittent during my retreat at Llannerchwen. At times the sun blazed, but never from a completely cloudless sky: intermittently, it would burst forth, turning leaves to translucent brilliance and fields to gold. And on my first full day there, walking along dappled lanes, I thought of RS Thomas' poem The Bright Field...

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Turning aside... that's what being on retreat is about. Turning aside from noise and busyness, to silence, stillness and a deeper, more focused awareness of God's presence; turning aside to discover treasure in all sorts of fields, whether sun-brightened or not. Turning aside for eight days, to spend time with my treasure: and then to re-turn, back to the everyday fields of normal life, and to discovering the pearls which lie within them too...