More excavated remains from the Stone Age… Back in 1980, en route to ordination, I was learning how to make a retreat, and went over to the convent of St Mary and the Angels that the Sisters of the Love of God had then in Hemel Hempstead. The chapel is pictured above. It closed in 2003 and fifty houses stand there now, I think. A Betjeman moment is allowed.
Anyway, I was captivated (of course) by the sisters, and find I wrote a rather Betjeman-like poem about them; and here it is.
St Mary and the angels live
In Hemel Hempstead’s posher parts.
St Mary? Well, we’ve heard her name;
But angels, in the depths of Herts?
Yes, angels, six, with squeaky voices,
Patched up slippers and spectacles.
Sisters there for the Love of God
And so – just so – His oracles.
Angels, like that Yiddish carthorse,
Forgive me sisters, for being bold,
Whose listening spoke to Rabbi Blue
Of truth to self in Mile End Road.*
They’re still there now at Terce or Sext
While I’m off on the 125.
A rumour as I run away
To keep the love of God alive.
* I was reading Lionel Blue on the retreat – ‘Backdoor to Heaven’ I think – and he recounts a meeting with a carthorse in Mile End Road who becomes an angel to him [for his listening rather than his speaking].