The launch of Noel Davis’ latest book, Heart Coming Home, with illustrations by Cathie Muller, on Saturday 15th at 4.30pm is a special time for Open Sanctuary. I hope you are able to come, and if you are reading this after the event, I hope you can find yourself a copy and a quiet place and absorb the reflections of a man who has learnt to ‘walk in Spirit’.
Noel let me have a copy not long after the books arrived in Australia. Since then I have been dipping into it almost daily. The poems and prayers have picked me up in a number of different moods. On one occasion, in Sydney last weekend, I opened the book as I lay in bed and let the words touch me. Later, as I waited in the car for Angela, I was reflecting on what I had read. I felt Spirit. Then as I looked at a tree across the road, the leaves began to dance in the most beautiful and gentle patterns. It not only felt like a language that I could take in, I could also feel my own energies responding. It was a moment of bliss.
On another occasion, no doubt a little hassled by the struggles of the world, my eyes lighted upon The Rage of Unnamed Impotency. It fitted my mood exactly, a very powerful role-reversal, with a terrorist, that names the truth for him.
But the bulk of the poems are stunning insights into Noel’s inner life, his constant surrendering to Spirit and the conversations that ensure.
On the back of the dust jacket he writes ‘His Christian faith is a joy to him'. I find I need to say that this is not a closed ‘Christian faith’ at all; not in the least. It is as open to life and everyone in it as you could find. No need here for arguments over doctrine; no need here for grand rituals aping ancient sacrifices. Here rather a wonderful example of what the New Testament is all about, learning to walk in the Spirit as inner companion, friend, counsellor, comforter and guide. I can see St Paul applauding, ‘At least someone got it right!’
St Paul saw the earliest example of this sort of faith in the patriarch Abram, later Abraham, the wandering Aramean pastoralist. I love to picture him as described in the Scripture, looking up into the starry skies at night and hearing a voice within him promising to make him the father of many nations. Abram believed it, and so began his extraordinary walk and inner conversation with Spirit, the stories about which became central in the oral history of the early Hebrews. It was this same Spirit that was gifted to us all by Christ. It delivers us from law and oppressive religion.
I actually think Spirit is the key understanding of God for the future of our race. Institutions are always wary of Spirit, but ordinary people without religious pretension are not, whatever the tradition. Noel’s book is very timely for the hour.
So thank you Noel for sharing yourself so freely with us. And thank you Cathie for the lovely sketches that complement and enliven the text. A book to have on the bedside table if ever I have seen one.