What's Tony Thinking

The Close and Holy Darkness


Many of you will recognize my title as coming from the closing words of poet Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Here’s the final paragraph of that wonderful narrative poem, a Christmastime favorite of mine:

“Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”

And so we too conclude. We conclude our journey in Dylan Thomas’s Wales.

We’ve been staying just outside the walled city of Conwy, in North Wales. There’s a fine castle at the southeast corner of this walled town. It was built by (well really “for”) Edward I, King of England, in the 13th century, as part of his effort to establish his dominion here in Wales.

In Wales, every sign is in both Welsh and English. And most of the people are bi-lingual having learned both Welsh and English as children. There are six Celtic languages (although I can only remember five). There’s Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Breton (northern France and Belgium), and one other. It is as, Linda put it, “a language rich environment.”

One of our favorite excursions here was to the 800 acre Bodnant Gardens. As much as arboretum as a garden, the Bodnant gardens are the creation of the McLaren family over five generations. In 1949 management was taken over by the National Trust. This second photo is of Linda in the Gardens

Land access laws are not quite so expansive as in Scotland, but still generous. There are public footpaths through moors and agricultural lands which has afforded us some happy walking in Wales.

Late today we attended an Evensong service at the Anglican Cathedral in Bangor, about 15 miles west of Conwy. There was a lovely choir of children, teens and adults singing the service in this regional cathedral. Here is a view of that cathedral on this sunny afternoon.

You readers have been patient with my travel journal in recent weeks. Thank you! Soon I will return to my usual commentary on matters theological, political and cultural.


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