R.S. Thomas’ “Mediations”

R.S. Thomas’ poems about God continue to fascinate me, particularly ones like:

MEDIATIONS

And to one God says: Come

to me by numbers and

figures; see my beauty

in the angles between

stars, in the equations

of my kingdom. Bring

your lenses to the worship

of my dimensions: far

out and far in, there

is always more of me

in proportion. And to another:

I am the bush burning

at the centre of

your existence; you must put

your knowledge off and come

to me with your mind

bare. And to this one

he says: Because of

your high stomach, the bleakness

of your emotions, I

will come to you in the simplest

things, in the body

of a man hung on a tall

tree you have converted to

timber and you shall not know me.

Younger I was fascinated with science, particularly with the way things seemed to fit together perfectly. I remember the magical moment when I first saw an award-winning science short which featured microscopic close-ups and telescopic shots of the universe, revealing remarkable symmetries. I used to belief the purpose of science was to reveal those mysteries, though in recent years it seems as if it serves very different purposes.

Although I’ve never been able to feel God as the center of my existence, I envy many who have felt that way. In fact, that might well be what I most admire about R.S. Thomas’ poetry.

Of course, it’s the third argument that’s most shocking, at least coming from the pen of a minister. I’ll have to admit that, though the statement rings true to me, I’m also dumb-founded by it, unable to put my own reaction into words.

5 thoughts on “R.S. Thomas’ “Mediations”

  1. I think all thinking Christians have crises of faith at sometime and I know that RS Thomas was no exception. I suppose if you are a minister you have more cause to question things than most people as you are trying all the time to convert your listeners to your particular brand of faith.

  2. Loren – Thomas’s poetry can be brutally honest but at least he is also honest with himself. He certainly did have some crises of faith but I think that’s all part of the nature of being both human and Christian. I find it hard to believe anyone else feels otherwise, although I’m willing to acknowledge I could be wrong. Thomas ccan be outrageously bitter and angry in some of his verse but when he speaks like this I’m more than happy to listen. A very fine poet.

  3. Great poem, Loren.
    The beauty of it is that it puts us rightly in relation to God whose essence is holiness, something that calls us, as created beings, to praise and worship.
    We experience God through prayer; faith is a gift, and not something we can produce by ourselves. He could have simply placed it in our hearts, but wants us to ask for it, to come to him as he reaches out to us. Thomas writes of the failure of humanity to recognize God in Christ, even when he came into our world and raised the dead, made the blind see, and walked among us after rising from the grave.

  4. This poem left me wondering which (if any) of the three Thomas considered himself to be. Someone who knows more about him than I do might be able to hazard a guess.

    I can’t help but think of Thomas’ bleak church at Aberdaron (www.st-hywyn.org.uk/), which I’ve visited a few times, when I read a poem like this.

What do you think?