Every week the Guardian's resident  poet Carol Rumens chooses a poem of the week and this one called "Stones" (from late October), by Janet Simon, is described as a political parable about being caught up in cycles of attack and revenge

(Carol Rumen's full analysis is at the foot of the post.) I don't know the poet Janet Simon and Rumen's analysis is not a religious one, but when I read it I was very much taken by its religious imagery and its metaphors and saw much in it that could relate to some current "hot and contentious topics" in the church.

I think the poem is rich in symbolism of the many ways we wrestle with our perception and interpretation of God, faith and our current problematic way of dialogue within the church: the problems of institutional church authority, hierarchy, power, control of liturgical expression, sexuality and gender issues, role of women in ministry, lay people,clericalism, abuse.

It expresses well how voices of individuals struggle to find a way to live and express their own faith and integrity in a nurturing and sustaining community when it is so often circumscribed for them by those in power.

I'd be very interested to hear what people think.

Stone by Janet Simon

You would reduce this stone to something homely.
Set in the palm of your soft hand,
it rests as if it wouldn't harm a fly.

In your pink fingers, it is a generous stone.
You offer its smooth surface as the best
of possibilities in the best possible of worlds.
      You pass this stone to me
      with pleasing manners.
      You sanction me to hold it
      for a few minutes
      and to speak uninterrupted
      in my own defence.

      Your gracious patronage
      reduces me to gibberish.

      To avoid stuttering
      I place this outsized pebble
      in my quivering mouth.

      Its frigid texture
      is cold, impenetrable.
      I cannot chew on it.
      I spit it out.
      An angry passerby
      picks up this stone
      and hurls it
      through your window.

      Your creamy skin
      turns puce-vermillion,
      and as he runs away
      you bolt your doors
      and ring for the police.

 I bend down and pick up
      this stone.
      It hasn't changed
      its shape or colour.
      Its unrelenting stoneness
      pleads with me.

I do not understand what force of hatred
makes a man destroy your house,
what speed of terror grabs you to defend it,
but I accept this stone, I hear its silent plea
of guiltless being. It sings to me
in my own ignorance, I am a stone.
And a stone is a stone is a stone is a stone.

Carol Rumen's Guardian analysis is here

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