Who will be our poet now?

For Ian

Who will write our hymns, breathe life into our psalms, honour our dead?

I see you, standing at the lectern, finger pointed in the air, white hair on fire, eyes sparkling with a twinkle that brightened the whole nave, and a smile stretched from ear to ear…

Your face marked by sorrow and joy…and life, so much life

…determined to find hope and life and love everywhere

Your face marked by wisdom…the wisdom of Christ-Sophia, the milk of justice flowing out of your pen.

Your words: razor sharp, uncompromisingly tender, with your own particular accent.

I see you in the kitchen, cheerfully washing dishes with Fran, smiling, willing, knowing how to keep us going, binding us up with words and work, sentiment and action.

I see you with Fran, tender, attentive, forever appreciating, naming, and celebrating beauty and intimacy.

Sure, we will write poems. Some of us are poets, even.

But Ian, our dear poet, we will miss your fine touch, your scholarly flair, your vivid commitment to dare to give expression to the whisper of the Holy Spirit and the anguish of human experience.

Who will dare now to describe our beautiful agony, our heartache and heartbreak, and our determined, persistent, and resistant hope?

Who will describe our spiritual longings, our glimpse of divine irruption, our touching transcendence?

Will you still sing us on, gentle and fierce saint and guide us with your radiant love,

As we sing you to sleep and sing you home: “hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.”

Ian Sowton, presente!

Becca Whitla, January 24, 2021


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