Here it is: the first day of March again. As ever, time seems to be flying.
As it happens, on this day last year I wrote a new poem. It is a short reflection on two things I was deeply aware of at the time: the appearance of Spring, and the onset of yet another armed conflict on the world stage. The coexistence of these two things is a terrible disjunction. It speaks of a clash, right at the heart of human existence, between beauty and life on the one hand, and suffering and death on the other. Surely war in Springtime is a stark reminder of the ultimate battle between good and evil.
When I wrote my poem I couldn’t think of a title, so I called it ‘Untitled’. Nothing very original there. This morning, though, reading the poem again, and reflecting on St. David, whose feast day is celebrated on 1st March, I think I have found a better one. I hope you will agree.
The Little Things
We’ve started to watch the news.
Is this what people do when there is war?
Huddling in our living room. Before,
it was the radio: gatherings convened
around a wireless set, tuning in
to London. And now, again,
we are praying: for the tiniest sign
of peace; for a heart of flesh for a heart
of stone. This is St. David’s Day, 2022.
March has been birthed beneath sunlit skies.
There are daffodils in bud, and the reassurance,
through trees, of a deep and cloudless blue.
Sharon Jones 01/03/2022
Why call a poem about war written on St. David’s Day ‘The Little Things’? Tradition holds that David, patron saint of Wales, was a healthy, teetotal vegetarian. And although he is associated with Wales, according to Rowan Williams he had a lot to do with Ireland too. St. David certainly went down in history as a great preacher, and his legacy lives on in his words. His final sermon was given the week before his death in AD 589. Yet the advice it offers, echoing St Paul’s call to imitate him as he in turn imitated Christ, has perhaps never been more relevant. In the vision of St. David, the little things matter:
‘Be joyful and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about’
It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since writing my little poem on St. David’s day 2022. On St. David’s Day in 2023 we still have war. But thankfully we also still have sunshine, and the beauty and hope of Spring flowers.
We have entered another season of Lent when Christians across the globe are preparing for Easter. On this day, as I consider the beauty of snowdrops and crocuses in my garden, and the brightness of the still-shy daffodils, I find great encouragement. The flowers sing out to us. They are reminders of the promise that Easter holds. And we need reminders, because we easily forget.
Each year, Easter declares that sorrow and suffering and war are with us for a short time only. They will last just for a season. For, in the ultimate act of love on the cross, Christ has triumphed over evil, and He offers to each one of us the gift of eternal life. This is a new life, full of hope and beauty, a treasure stored up in Heaven that cannot be destroyed or perish or fade.
So today, take a moment to lift your head, to open your tired eyes. Find a Spring flower, even a tiny bud. Stop for a time, just to take a look. Can you see its beauty? This flower is a reminder just for you: hold fast to the promise of Easter! Hold fast to the promise of life!
The exhortation of St. David to his followers echoes across the centuries:
‘Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.’
Against a backdrop of sorrow and sickness and war, the little things matter: each flower in Spring; each moment of sunshine; each small act of kindness and grace. Let’s live in the good of each glimpse of glory this St. David’s Day. Let’s remember with the Psalmist that ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’. Let’s look together to the promise of Easter.