This Precarious Faith

Last week I was able to go on a retreat to St Bueno’s, a wonderful Jesuit retreat house in North Wales. In the main chapel, there is an altar that rests on large boulders. It inspired me to write this poem.

The altar at St Bueno’s, St Asaphs, North Wales

This precarious faith
Balancing on the boulders
of fears, doubts and wanderings.

One strong push and it’s scattered
The table toppled
and all that was stable
broken. In pieces.

Wondering if we should pick up
the rocks and throw,
hurl and shatter.
It feels so weak.

This precarious faith
Resting on the boulders
of the one who gathers, mends, and makes whole.

©Clare Hayns, January 2022

Window in the Rock Chapel, St Buenos by Claire Mullholland

Author: clarehayns

College Chaplain and Welfare Coordinator of Christ Church, Oxford | Mum of three boys | wife of a juggler and magician | Council of Reference of ZANE - | enjoys board games, dog walking, films, eating out.

11 thoughts on “This Precarious Faith”

  1. Beautiful, it reminds me of the stone table in Narnia. If I may cite another tradition: Yesterday on the news from Japan there was a report of an earthquake which had knocked a Buddhist statue to the ground and smashed it to pieces. One of the locals said to the reporter, “For years I’ve been casting all my burdens upon the statue and now he has fallen and broken for me. Thank you, Kobo Daishi!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always thought that altar was a bit Narnian. St. Beuno’s has become a kind of spiritual home for me since I spent a fair part of a sabbatical there about 10 years ago. I managed another visit there in November. Glad you had a good retreat too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this poem Clare! You’re so talented.

    My mum’s friend just returned from a retreat at St. Bueno’s – she loved it. Did you have a good time too?

    Would be excellent to catch up in person one day this year!

    Big news is…. I’ve got a dog, Gaia. Absolutely the best decision ever!

    Get Outlook for Android


    Liked by 1 person

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