A while ago, I found myself in Ipswich hospital. Once things had calmed down a bit, I was moved to Brantham Assessment Unit, where the lady described in the poem brought me tea. As well as the NHS doctors who diagnosed, and prescribed medicine that made me better, there were people whose presence, kindness, and generosity of spirit was remarkably healing. She was one of them. It was so precious at the time, and still now the memory helps. A simple cup of tea – it meant so much.
So often we think there is very little we can do for people, that our small gestures, our smiles and cups of tea and gentle touch can’t make much difference in the face of whatever they are experiencing. We are wrong when we think that – I know now. It gave me hope and comfort.
If anyone knows who this lady is, and can pass on my thanks, I would be so grateful.
You can hear a recording of the poem by clicking on the title.
Here, among the bleeping machines,
the close together trolleys,
and the thin curtains,
there are gifts.
A high slit of window, through
which I see a tree’s green
shimmering in far away light.
And you, lady,
aquamarine turban folded on your head,
swaying to the rhythm of the song
you hear, and hum
so deep, humming from the heart.
It is my gospel song.
You make tea for us,
stranded as we are,
as if it were a sacrament.
You hold each cup a moment,
as if in prayer, and you pass
mine to me with kindness.
I receive it, and feel the blessing of it.
Healing and peace,
here, even here.
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Andrea Skevington lives in Suffolk, and draws inspiration from the world and the community around her. Her work includes poetry, stories – mainly for children, and inspirational work in the Christian tradition. she has worked with children in schools and churches, and has a particular interest in retelling the Bible. She has led retreats and creative writing workshops for adults, spoken at festivals, and share my poetry and my thoughts. She also writes for Quiet Spaces “A creative response to God’s love”, and has written meditations on Women in Genesis, the medieval mystical work The Cloud of Unknowing, the I Am sayings of Jesus, the poems of Emily Dickinson, and many others.
Here is a link to her latest book:
A companion volume is also available. You can read more about it here