As Rowan Williams moves from being Archbishop of Canterbury to Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, a poem written in 2003 following his visit to St Mary Islington
Visit of Holiness
Only God is holy,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So any holiness we see,
and experience in anyone,
is God’s own holiness,
shining out in God’s own child.
Of what does it consist?
Humility, profundity and silence.
Humility comes from the ground,
from being earthed in ‘humus’;
from dust we come and
to dust we shall return.
But the earth is the Lord's
and everything in it.
So even being earthed
is being rooted in God.
Humility is the pattern of Christ,
the shape of the Spirit,
the mould of God.
Humility is attractive, a focus of God.
We are drawn in, delighted:
our petty selves are drawn out, transformed.
Profundity comes from the sea:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
It also comes from way-back, from afar,
from long-past vocations and foundations,
from the wisdom of God and language of learning.
Out of the depths of
Hebrew scriptures, Greek gospels,
Church fathers and mothers of all ages,
We cry to you, O Lord.
Silence echoes the stars
In returning and rest we are saved,
in quietness and trust is our strength.
For God alone our souls wait in silence.
We have calmed and quieted our selves
like a weaned child with its mother.
peace amidst chatter;
stillness amongst clatter;
essence at the end of incessence;
space for God’s eloquence.
24 December 2003
The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings is Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Ely and Research Associate at the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.