Monday, September 15, 2008

A new priest for Eglwys Dewi Sant

This evening Clare and I attended the licensing and induction of Hywel Jones the new priest in charge of Eglwys Dewi Sant. People were there from far and wide to celebrate and welcome him, as Hywel has lived in Cwmbach, Gwynedd and Carmarthenshire. Archbishop Barry officiated and preached bi-lingually with much graciousness and good humour. There was a full house, over 200 people, and the singing was astounding - such good Welsh hymns deserved to be sung with such gusto. It was a real pleasure. We sat next to Gweinidog Denzil John from Tabernacl, lone tenor in our corner of bass baritones. Clare was singing out with such enthusiasm that Denzil jokingly asked her if she'd always been an Anglican.

Following and participating in a liturgical service in Welsh is no problem to me, but unlike Clare, I had to rely on the English summaries of the Welsh which Barry slotted in to his preaching effortlessly. At the end she was off chatting to fellow learners, in a crowded reception heaving with food and drink enough to feed 500, leaving me dumbstruck and nodding, feeling definitely lacking.

I still miss that feeling of being able to get on well in an Anglo-French environment, and I'm a little lacking in confidence when it comes to making an effort in what should be my mother tongue. Perhaps the shadow of parental awkwardness over Welsh speaking in the community hasn't yet left me. I guess the only thing that might change me would be immersion for a few years in a full Welsh language environment. I feel culturally Welsh in many ways, though much more of a hybrid spiritually speaking, with Oriental and European influences mixing in with the Celtic, for more than half a lifetime. Much as I love my native land, there are more places than Wales where I feel deeply at home. I wonder what my parents would have made of that?

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