I went to one of those boarding schools where pupils were expected to pray every day even when the act of praying was, to me at least, a bit of a mystery. We spend what seemed like hours, (but what was probably only around ten minutes) on our knees in the dormitory every night before bed. Later, at my secondary school, there was a short morning chapel service every day and, yet again, there we all were, on our knees, often praying for forgiveness for sins we planned to commit as soon as the next opportunity arose.
It’s no surprise that my mind wandered at time like these. At first it was:
Who is this God? Can he really hear me? I don’t want to stop being proud of some things. Why are some sins more fun than other? Why do we have to be on our knees? The floor boards are very uncomfortable to kneel on. Are we meant to be this uncomfortable? How long is this going to last?
Then, when I realised that there was no escape from the torture, I just gave it to my fears. I thought of being beaten (‘bend over, boy!’) and then I thought of all those people, mostly kings and queens, from history books having their heads cut off. King Charles I’s execution gave me nightmares. Even he had to kneel like this, I thought.
Praying became something scary. Kneeling in a church pew, head bowed over the shelf where the prayers books go, it was like putting your head on the block. Don’t close your eyes – something bad will will happen.
These memories came back to me when I wrote the poem Kneeling that is in my newly published poetry collection, Remembering Blue. I thought I would make a short film of the poem too – here it is:
These days, I seldom kneel except when I’m doing the weeding.
Remembering Blue (Ward Wood Publishing) can be bought in all the usual places – maybe it’s easiest to order online from Wordery who give free world-wide postage.
The digital edition is available on Kindle and can be ordered from Amazon in your country.