My wife and I recently had the opportunity to travel to London and specifically to Westminster Abbey. My own interest there was to pay homage to one of my heroes, William Wilberforce. I ended up encountering other friends.
In one section of the Abbey is what is known as the Poets’ Corner. Here are buried or memorialized many of the great persons of literature. I found myself becoming emotional as I looked upon the graves or memorials of people who had enriched and influenced my spiritual journey. I had been impacted spiritually by John Masefield’s “Sea Fever”, by Gerard Manley Hopkins “Pied Beauty”, by Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”, even by Rudyard Kipling’s “Gunga Din”. All were here along with other beloved poets and authors such as Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.
As I sat in their midst, I realized that those parts of my spiritual world that are most powerful and give me the strongest sense of God’s presence are not related to theology, religion, or even the Bible. Those powerful parts relate to artistry. I had to admit that I felt God most strongly not at the Consecration of Mass but when I read words such as Masefield’s: “I must go down to the seas again/To the lonely sea and sky/And all I ask is a tall ship/And a star to steer her by.” God for me resides in Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town”, in Edward Hopper’s painting “Night Hawks”. He/She walks with Pip through the pages of Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. I hear Him/Her singing through the notes of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”.
As I sat at Poets’ Corner, I could only feel gratitude for the glimpse these angels have all given me of the Divine. Someone once said that if you feel you’ve lost your faith, start looking for it wherever you last felt it. For me, a starting place is always the works of these friends.
Reflection: What works of art have enriched your journey?