First off on this late autumn day of limpid blue skies and mild breezy air and burnished leaves, I am delighted to say that the new website will launch on Monday. I’ll post the link here and you can follow it to a welcome post on the new site or, just type sarahclarkson.com and it should take you there (at the moment the link just leads here).
I am honestly, downright excited.
I’ve found the process of creation rather amusing. I have no coding skill whatsoever and couldn’t manage a thing without a helpful website-building platform. Even so, I ended my first day of design in utter despondence. Details are not my strong suit, and the sheer number of small things to tweak and new shortcuts to learn left me bewailing my state. I think Thomas was trying not to laugh. I took a day off to write handwritten letters as a corrective to the oppression of online reality, and started again the next morning.
And then I began to delight. A quickened creativity and joy came to me as I found myself able to shape an online space to more fully reflect the world in my heart and imagination. It’s basic – I know – like when you first move into a house and you put up all the pictures and arrange things and the rooms are simple and new and straight, if perhaps a bit bare. But this website, which I feel is my small Rivendell of a corner on the internet, will grow and ease and burgeon, as homes do when you live in them and the corners fill up with things you love and you figure out just the right place (or word) for that picture or table (or post) and you realize there’s scope for a new room – maybe a library, maybe a place dedicated just to friendship – and you begin to dream.
I think this new website is just the beginning of what I will create and the new conversations or friendships to begin. The joy is that there’s space now for new things to grow. I look so forward to welcoming you in.
I’ve taken too long to finish this post and now it’s late on a Friday afternoon here in England. The shadows are climbing up the golden old church tower out my window, my three jolly candles are lit, and the radiator is ticking to life as the evening chill pools in the room. It’s the first quiet night in with just the two of us that we’ve had in quite a few days, so I’m about to draw the curtains (such an English thing to do) and brew some tea (my goodness, I’m becoming a Brit) for when Thomas gets home.
Before I go, I’ll leave you two poems about the Annunciation to ponder. I have more to say about these – and our poetry group had a lively discussion on them yesterday – but I’ll let you read them, soak a bit in what they evoke before I tell you what I’ve been thinking on their subject. Besides, I think a good chat about poetry and Advent, accompanied by tea and art and general coziness might just be a good way to begin in my new little cottage (I mean, website).
See you soon.
by Denise Levertov
‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
From the Agathistos Hymn, Greece, VIc
We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.
But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.
Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.
Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:
to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–
but who was God.
This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.
A breath unbreathed,
She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
opened her utterly.