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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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The Old Meeting House

Posted Thursday, June 7, 2007

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The Old Meeting House

It has stood with its back to the North wind since 1694

built in the reign of William of Orange and Mary.

Its ancient portal faces the mild, smiling South,

giving entry on the leeward side and a more serene welcome

to visitors down the centuries.

The glittering jewels of its two richly coloured eyes

face the morning: East to the rising Sun.

Down the decades the dust motes have twinkled

and glittered motionless in the silent refracted glory

of richly hued rainbows pouring shafts of sunlight

through the stained-glass windows on a myriad summer days.

The atmosphere hangs heavy with the reverence of age,

And a timeless essence of spiritual piety

Emanates from the dark and derelict

sober rows of oaken pews.

Generations of gentry and peasant; scholar and scoundrel;

The beneficent and bereft have passed this way

Each carrying a common heritage of faith

Onward to their own appointed Kingdom Come.

A history of headstones, like the pages of time

decorate the graveyard all in a line,

personalities past into stonemason’s rhyme;

A memory of a memory makes a glorious shrine!

If the memory is of freedom,

And the freedom – of love;

And this liberty of spirit lifts us soaring above

Our human emotions, to God’s divine grace,

Then memories in abundance fill this old meeting place.

The ghosts of a thousand congregations

Haunt the hallowed hall

with galleries of choirs sending a silent echo

through the archives of Eternity and

a proclamation of forever stamps a bold statement

of defiance on it’s weather-worn walls,

stone dressed in seventeenth century apparel

and twenty-first century neglect.

There’s a singing in the silence of the shadows as they fall,

and softly fold around the burial ground behind the ancient wall,

and the Commonwealth Tree stands in testimony

whilst empires around it fall, as fall they must,

and from dust turn to dust ‘til no more their anthems

shall raise across a divide two thousand years wide

the true spirit of love to His praise.

Carrying visions of glory they have passed

From yesterday into tomorrow,

Leaving traces of hope for today.

It feeds the fire in the belly of the beast;

It resurrects the heretic corpse

And rises triumphantly forlorn in the poet’s breast

Proclaiming Life & Liberality

To the deaf mutes of humanity

Who, at a loss, only understand

The sign language of the cross.

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