Departing Bristol on Thursday 10th May I came face to face with something of such profound importance I wanted to give it separate space. Above you will see a prayer from a lovely young lady called Thea who is eight years old. As we came to depart she presented it to me and then her older sister, Isla, who is 11 also gave me one she had written at the dockside. To say I was touched would be an understatement.
In the bible Hosea 11:4 says:
“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”
As we travelled away from Bristol, under the Clifton bridge, seeing Barbara and Jo from Trinity college waving from the bank, I reflected upon our objective. Howard and I had set out together to commence conversations with todays society but as an adult I hadn’t considered any impact on children or how they might engage. Sure there was talk of a KS2 resource being developed but an educational resource is not the same as firing the imagination of a child. Sparking such a fire is a privilege and it is my belief today a privilege many adults miss out on. Thus I found myself childlike, a neonate enclosed in the womb of our ship, ears searching for the faintest noise of parental love, humbled that I had inadvertently fired the imagination of two lovely young people.
My soul cried but outwardly I smiled and we departed Portishead for Cardiff, morse control now fixed but with our engine smoking like an ageing tobacco addict. I prayed, thanking God for this privilege and thinking to myself that maybe this was our objective. Forget touching six million people, inspiring two young kids was sufficient. As my prayer ended, I checked my mobile and noted an email from Jonathan Bryan.
Jonathan’s website is http://www.eyecantalk.net
Getting to know Jonathan, a fellow poet with a wicked sense of humour had already been a privilege. Locked in till the age of eight, hampered by cerebral palsy, but supported by two amazing parents, he writes using his eyes. The brain behind those eyes is well ahead of his 12 years and he is about to launch his book which I am hoping will include some amazing insights he has into the being of our God. Jonathan has a well developed sense of humour and I had challenged him to write a sonnet. What he produced, link below, his first ever, was stunning.
Now shape poetry for somebody who has to do everything in their head and who cannot physically manipulate things to fill the shape, has to be really difficult. So I had challenged him to write a shape poem on something he selected. Time had passed and I felt quite pleased that I had finally found something in poetry he felt challenged by.
The email was as follows:
My prayers are with you today as you embark on sailing bravely around our country. I truly believe your quest for answers will open eyes and souls.
I spent today writing this poem for you.
Do we inspire the young or do they inspire us? I veer towards the latter but what is certain is that as I quietly wept with the emotion of such wonderful expressions of love, I realised that whatever the outcome of our voyage, for me it had already created a completeness.