Andrew Rudd is a Cheshire poet who, during 2006, was the fourth Cheshire Poet Laureate. He has previously written a guest blog for Reflections about the show Fourpenny Circus that he and three other poets produced in 2009. He has kindly accepted my invitiation to write another guest blog, so without more ado - here is Andrew.........
We were visiting Taizé some years ago. In most of my life I am surrounded by English speakers, but at any given time there can be thirty different languages at Taizé, as visitors come from all over the world. Sometimes in the worship, there might only be one sentence of English. I was amazed, as usual, by my lack of knowledge of other languages.
But it does make you pay attention! We were singing the Beatitudes in French when I noticed the words for ‘Blessed are the peace-makers’ – in French this is ‘Bienheureux les artisans de paix…’
It suddenly struck me that peace is an art form, it is not just something that happens accidentally at the end of violence or when there is a cease fire. It is something that has to be made or created in our life together. Maybe this is the most important kind of creativity, where we make shalom, where we build community. And maybe one of the best things about art – sculpture, painting, music, poetry – is when it helps us to understand each other better, when it opens our awareness, when it makes peace.
This thought resulted in the poem ‘Artisans’ which is to be broadcast on the 21st of February on Radio 4’s ‘Something Understood.’ If you don’t know this wonderful programme, I would recommend it. It is a collage of words and music which explore a ‘spiritual’ theme in a very fresh way. The only snag is the timing – it is broadcast very early on Sunday morning (6.05 am) and then repeated at the end of the same day (11.30pm). Fortunately, you can catch it during the following week on Listen Again.
‘Bienheureux les artisans de paix…’
Blessed the singers of peace,
lamenting the unfinished business, sorrow
and dream: whose song changes nothing
but opens everything to change.
Blessed the potters of peace,
hands in the clay, shaping, smoothing,
reaching for hidden form, braving
the furnace for beauty.
Blessed the embroiderers of peace:
at their needle’s touch, an ordinary surface
shines in a sacrament of colour, angles
softened into treasures of texture.
Blessed the sculptors of peace
who look at the intractable
slab, and see marvels within it,
and reach for the chisel.
Blessed the poets of peace
who bear all voices into their emptiness,
settling stresses into speech
which at the last is music.