Children of the sun

There are many paths to peace
in Northern Ireland
- communities in exodus
from a past of prejudice and violence
to the future of hope and peace.

A people in transition
each different group
finding their own way
in their own time.

Some are on perilous paths
navigating the crags and crevasses
high in the mountains of state.

Others are lost in the marshes and mires
somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow.

But quietly, unnoticed, almost unseen
more and more
are finding an easier way
through the green pastures
and gentler hills
in the valley of the river of peace.

One nation or many?
It really doesn’t matter any more.
Each journey will tell its own story.
Each traveller on a personal adventure
with their closest family and friends.

So life goes on.
Most will survive
Many will thrive
And a few will be left behind


Somewhere on a hill
a shepherd watches.
Tears roll down his cheeks
to see his scattered flock.

He smiles for those on safe ground.
He knows them well
- and they him.

His lonely vigil
sees a thousand miles
beyond the valley, the mountains
and the mire.

He scans around
to judge the need
and sees one of the flock
left behind
trapped by a leg
in steel wire.

No doubt about
his first priority
those who are hurt,
those who still grieve.

Quietly, silently, unseen
he moves about his task.
Gently he unhooks
the leg from the wire,
frees the prisoner from his cell
frees the grieving parents
from their hell.

All afternoon it takes
to liberate the victims
of the hate.
Then with a gentle nudge or two
he leaves them in the care
of those mortal angels
who are already coming through.
But as the daylight fades
he has another task
back to the distant bogs
where the blind ones
are stuck fast.

This is more difficult he sighs
They will not see the way
while they still close their eyes.

This is not easy now because
some have thought they
are shepherds too.
Proudly they led
their obedient friends
in circles backwards
to the darkness
whence they came.

Aah, sighs the Shepherd
as the night grows late.
Must I tell them?
Or will they come to understand
the simple truth of fate?

He stands near them
on a grassy mound.
Are they lost
or are they found?

He looks to the stars
and listens for the words.
"Give them time"
the choir sings.
The shepherd nods his head
and turns.


One final task
before the dawn.
Time to search the mountains
for the most forlorn.

In moments he has flown
across the land
to the highest places
where scattered sheep
are trapped
each in their own mind.

On the edge of a cliff
one who thought he could fly
then held back
knowing he might die.

Another on the steep ice sheet
a single move
would lose his grip
skating, plummeting
into the ravine below.

A third high on the crag
could not accept
there was no way but down.

One by one
he held them gently in his arms.
He wiped the tears of failure
and loosed the grip of arrogance.

Far in the east
the dawn was rising.
One at a time
he showed them the future
across the glowing land


As the sun rose higher
each began to see
the valley and the river,
the bogs and mire,
the shadows of history.

In two’s and three’s
he led them down
from the high fastnesses of fate
to the safer ground.
By breakfast time
the world was good.

Deputy shepherds realised
their bogs were just beside the road.
He knew they would.

It was a spring morning
and the air was clean.
Flowers radiant
in the coalescing dream.

Hour by hour
each group moved on
finding fresh grass
warmed by the sun.

The shepherd smiled.
The night was long.
But nothing to compare
with the coming summer’s sun.

Far beyond the sea
he heard a gun.
Ah well, he sighed
Time I was moving on.

Another land, another time
but this one is coming good.
The flock is safe now.

Perhaps a few
will follow me
to the next place
across the sea
and learn my trade.

Shine on together
children of the sun.

Afon Claerwen
25 March 2000 - the Northern Ireland
peace process in crisis again

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© copyright 2000 Afon Claerwen   page updated 1 April 2004