giottoTaking Stock
There come moments in life when we are forced to take stock. A loss, a challenge a brokenness, a revelation, those frontiers that cause a disruption between life as it has been and the sudden flux we then find ourselves in. We are prone to fear these breaks, even the revelatory kind, as they disturb our sense of who we are.

One evening, as I drove home, I was thinking of a painting that adorns the basilica of St Francis in Assisi. Portrayed in Giotto’s work are a stripped Francis and an embarrassed bishop covering up the saint’s indignity with his robes. He divested himself of possessions in order to feel more keenly the ground beneath his feet and the kindness of strangers. From the sky above their heads a hand is emerging from a cloud. For the medieval artist this is the divine hand signalling approval and approbation of this radical act.

As I pondered this on the journey into my valley I saw that the clouds were lying on the hills, and I suddenly found the poem Taking Stock forming in my mind. It was one of those internal conversations that pushed me into a six month sabbatical and a new grasp of the direction my life should take. Many people have told me that this poem has had a similar effect on them. Taking them through those disruptions with a sense of confidence that transformation can ensue when we welcome the lacuna created by them.

That word lacuna meaning an unfilled space or gap has a lyrical cadence, an audible swoop that enacts the reality it speaks of. We need that descent – that ‘stripped yearning of a bare night’ as the poem has it. Though we are prone to fear these lacuna; I believe, with a poet’s faith, that we can emerge from them stripped of ways that no longer serve us and more able to feel the earth beneath our feet and to accept the kindness of strangers.

Taking Stock

How would it feel if,
out of the darkening
grey of dusk-fall
clouds as they
lower themselves
on to the backs
of the hills,
an unseen hand
reached down
and removed,
at a stroke,
everything
that makes up
the minutes
of your life
and left you in the
stripped yearning
of a bare night?
And then in the
cold initiatory
shiver of
a new dawn,
that same hand
returned your life
to you in discrete
items, like clothing
on hangers and
shoes in boxes?
What would you
choose to keep
for that expedition
we call our life,
and more important,
what, finally
would you choose
to leave behind?

From the Call of the Unwritten – Adrian G R Scott

Picture Giotto di Bondone – Legend of St Francis – 5. Renunciation of Wordly Goods
Basilica of San Francesco – Assisi

Written by Adrian G R Scott

Adrian G R Scott lives in the Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, he is a poet , writer and amateur photographer. For more www.adriangrscott.com He has studied theology, organisation development and is now working on a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Sheffield University. He has written two books of poetry, one of prose and edited a collection of Poetry by the two writing groups he facilitates. After suffering a breakdown in 2014 he has undergone Jungian Analysis for the last two years. He also facilitates Rites of Passage for men and is fascinated by the stories and poetry that come from holy scriptures, fairy tales and other major world religions. He is especially interested in how we find our way through the world with the help of such stories and poems. ​ His books are available at Buy Books

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