“On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me – five… gold… rings…”
Adopting this title for her book, Anna Jeffery invited a few prominent people to select their own five gold rings, ie favourite poem, book, place, person, plus their philosophy of life. The result is a very thought-provoking anthology.
A publisher’s note says: “In reading them, we are encouraged to search for our own ‘five gold rings’.” What a challenge! Reflecting on this theme, I came up with my personal five:
It’s a sonnet by Hilaire Belloc, and it brilliantly captures the aching sense of loss of someone, or something. It commences…
Your life is like a little winter’s day
Whose sad sun rises late to set too soon;
You have just come, why will you go away,
Making an evening of what should be noon?
Your life is like a little flute complaining
A long way off, beyond the willow trees:
A long way off, and nothing left remaining
But memories of a music on the breeze.
Pathos is woven through these lines, like a thread of gold.
‘Love is My Meaning, an Anthology of Assurance’, compiled by Elizabeth Bassett. This is an out-of-print collection of spiritual items which I believe deserves a wider readership. My favourite piece describes the annual arrival of spring, and is entitled ‘The Green Veil’.
Having spent the past fifty or so years getting to know Snowdonia, my choice has to be the summit of Snowdon (height: 3560 feet). I am not a person who thinks that one is closer to God on the top of a mountain, but on this summit “the silence of eternity” is to be found.
A difficult choice! During the Second World War our school was evacuated to a small town in South Wales, where a childless couple gave a home to me and my younger brother. Our host was a smelter at the local steelworks, and his love of the countryside, of walking, of books, of writing, and of the theatre, he generously passed on to me.
I do love the prayer from Compline:
“Preserve us, O Lord, whilst waking, and guard us whilst sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ…”
Can you just imagine it… every second of every minute, of every day of our lives – “that awake we may watch with Christ?” What a staff to lean upon!
In sharing these personal reflections with you, I hope that I may have inspired you to consider your own “Five Gold Rings”….
‘Five Gold Rings’, edited by Anna Jeffery, published in 2003 by Darton, Longman and Todd
‘Sonnets and Verse’ by Hilaire Belloc, published in 1923 by Duckworth
‘Love is My Meaning, an Anthology of Assurance’, compiled by Elizabeth Bassett, published in 1974 by John Knox Press
The photo from the summit of Snowdon is reproduced by kind permission of David Swales.