First Communion

Lammas Sunrise, Glastonbury Tor

Dear Friends who gathered at Woodbrooke for the Pagan-Quaker weekend –

Just to thank you all for making the weekend so rich and creative.

Here is the poem about my ‘First Communion’. After years of frustratedly trying to connect with the Divine through the Anglican sacraments, and decades of peaceful worship in Quaker Meeting, this was my experience on Glastonbury Tor at Lammas in 1998:

First communion

Fifty-four years on a hill I’ve been
waiting for the wind to blow
and all it did was blow the other way.

Sixty-six women and a few men and kids.
Two of them specially got up at five
so as to be ready with this and that.

This was a corn sheaf, tacky, maybe varnished,
and that was sage, which means something,
I don’t know what. The incense wouldn’t light.

Someone played a flute, I only noticed
when it stopped. Dancing also ended
so we were still, and maybe wondering

what they would do, the two of them,
or we either. It was wonderfully simple,
they took a wooden bowl of seeds, a clay

goblet with sips of strong drink where you
could see an imprint of the potter’s rough thumbs
and waited for the wind to blow the spirit round.

I knew, seventeen women and a few men and kids
away, that this would be for me, true.
Fifty-four years of waiting fell down the hill

and I stood wet, alone, and part of it all.
There was nothing that was not me,
or Spirit, or wonder, or seed, or dancing.

Alison Leonard


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