I loved the evocative sketch Adam Boulter sent me for this poem for many reasons. Firstly because it focussed on a liminal, in-between time: we all think of, and many artists have painted, the dramatic moment of blinding light which was Saul’s ‘Damascus road experience’, or we think of him, after Damascus, in the full power of his Christian convictions, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, but Adam asks us to imagine the last bit of road, between the blinding light and the opening of his eyes. And then there is something tender and affecting in the tentative holding hands as the strong man who was the leader must allow himself to be led, and finally there was something in the gorgeous purple colours of the night and the beautiful slender crescent of the moon in this painting, some how rendered more poignant because it is a painting of a man who cannot see them. I have tried to get some of that feeling and those reflections into this poem.
As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the play button and you can visit the exhibition with the finished paintings and poems at St. Margaret’s Westminster throughout Lent
Paul blinded being led into Damascus
He cannot see the crescent moon, but feels
This night’s wide wilderness. He is afraid,
And holds the hand of one he used to lead,
Through folds and shadows where the moonlight falls
He holds his counsel and still holds the road,
As it winds northward. Rounding a last bend,
Paul senses each slight change in scent and sound;
A gradual Damascus just ahead,
Whose pre-dawn hush is filling him with dread,
For what awaits him there is his true end.
Slowly from Ananias he will learn
To touch the body and to break the bread
And, as the scales fall from his eyes, discern
How Love himself has risen from the dead.