Twisted Religion

20 Feb 2023 | Humankind, Personal | 0 comments

I have pretended long, in loyalty.

I had a childhood hurt for five harsh years,

I let it wound my good fragility

And over decades I’ve shed many tears

And sometimes wished that I were wholly free

Of faith because it was to me all fears,


Unhappiness and, yes, grief for a part

That should be left untouched in childhood till

There have been many blows upon the heart.

I listened to the words within that still

Confessional. ‘You must not be a part

Of the communion tomorrow,’ Frail


I was and still a child although fifteen.

My only fault was large uncertainty

Of my faith’s tenets. I had not yet been

Close to grave sin. A dark shade stood between

Me and the altar. Gone was liberty

Yet absolution had just set me free.


The priest was twisted, sick. I felt no hate

For children think they cannot change such things

Or run from them. Of course it was too late

When later I could tell all this. Love sings

Now in my spirit but when black moods wait

For me I cannot launch them on light wings.


God, you you meant terror once. But maybe this

Brought me close to your mysteries. I knew of

Unjust suffering. Deciding this

I sometimes now am filled with boundless love

And gratitude from which I’ve power to build

Music, the poem and all they are witness of.


Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001), A Childhood Horror.

Notes from the Compiler

Elizabeth Jennings, 'Times and Seasons', Manchester, Carcanet, 1992. In childhood having myself witnessed abuse first-hand, and having been brought to Christ by a man who put his hand up my trouser leg, like the poet 'I sometimes am filled with boundless love and gratitude' for the love of a Saviour who loved me and gave himself for me.


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