The wonderful mystery of conversion of life

Pam Grey SGS

Pam Grey SGS

“Not conscious that you have been seeking suddenly you come upon it,” wrote the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas in his poem “Arrival”. Has this ever been your experience, asks Good Samaritan Sister Pam Grey.

BY Pam Grey SGS*

“Not conscious
that you have been seeking
you come upon it…”
wrote the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas in his poem “Arrival”.

Has this ever been your experience? Have you caught sight of something out of the corner of your eye? Have you ever turned a corner and a vista beckoned?

While on a retreat at Morning Star Monastery in Kopua, New Zealand, I passed a particular fence post each morning. It had weathered many a winter and was stained with colourful moss. It was rugged and wrapped with a spiky band of fencing wire.


At first sight I judged it ugly and a psalm verse came to mind.

“So I left you
in your stubbornness of heart,
to follow your own design.” (Psalm 81)

A few days later a word from Isaiah 49 caught my attention as I passed the post.

“But I said: ‘I have laboured in vain.
I have spent my strength
for nothing and vanity.
Yet surely my cause
is with the Lord’.”

On the last day at Kopua I read the following words of Christian De Cherge OCSO:

“When the spirit has abandoned everything
the heart opens itself
and everything enters into it.”

And I thought of my ragged old post – a true listening post for me.

On an early walk along a Napier beach, I received this image.


What can you see?
Frothing waves,
straight line of demarcation,

Then soft furrows
with scattered pebbles,

And copper-coloured, curving,
stretching, mingling boundary.

What can you hear?
Gathering whoosh of waves,
then tinkling, rolling pebbles
dissolving into silence.

What can you imagine?
Sophia shining
Her gaze upon her handiwork
and delighting in our company
for a moment of shared eternity.

The wonderful mystery of conversion of life is how the light gets in, while a photograph and a word may hold the memory.

* Melbourne-based Good Samaritan Sister Pam Grey is a writer and poet. She also volunteers as a home tutor for newcomers to Australia who need language and resettlement support.

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The Good Oil, May 17, 2016. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

2 Responses to “The wonderful mystery of conversion of life”

  1. Marilyn Maxwell says:

    Pam, Thank you for sharing your insights.

  2. Marie Casamento says:

    Pam keep attuned to be surprised aware of all that gets caught in a moment of light or the ‘whoosh of waves’. What wonderful imagery in your poem. It challenges me to be attentive to surprise immortalised in a moment of time. Just loved your poem Pam. Marie

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