As imagined by Snorkelfish
Have you visited the chapel at St.Non’s , near St Davids? On this annual day of Welsh celebration, our writer takes us back to the stormy night of Dewi’s birth on that wild headland….
The Birth of DEWI
It is the fiercest of winds that howls about the headland. The lashing of icy rain in torrents greets the good green earth. No one ventures out on a night such as this. Black as the deep dark ocean, even the stars are hid from view. Cold as the tomb that awaits all the children of men, cold enough to shiver down the spine of dragons and chill even their furious blood.
Yet, one is abroad. One steps out of the shadows. One like a mouse scurrying for safety reaches a pale hand and places it into the wind, into the night, into the great mystery of the numinous dark.
This child, round and ripe with new life insistent upon a taste for living, even on a night such as this. Daughter of good birth, brave-hearted, determined, steps out of shadow. Determined even though the ill-gotten spawn she carries in the great exploding bowl of her belly would be a curse and a shame for any other violated maiden.
Not for this Miss. Not this daughter of nobles, soon to be mother of saints. Not she. This new being tearing now at her vitals will be honoured not cursed for the God of the crucified Christ has laid his mysterious hand upon her and banished dishonour.
Are there watchers?
There must be watchers. The old gods will be here surely, to watch how the new God operates in the land of song, the land they once ruled. Through the chinks in time and space, both those who have been and those who will come must be present for such a momentous occasion. These watchers released from all constraints of normal law will see the sun come out and light the ladies way. They shall hear the soft murmur of angels wings displace the storm. She is come out of the chill dim shadows into full summer brightness. She steps, falteringly at first but with grim determination into a world of scent and colour and warm clear light.
The storm, dear reader has not abated. Hear this. The storm rages vile and dangerous still. The wind still whips the waves of the sea into vicious peaks to crash upon the shore. No sailors will be on board their vessels this night. Any vessels not high beached are victims of this fury and like to be dashed to splinters. The rain still hisses and fizzes and frights the creatures of the night in their burrows.
It is not that the storm has lessened in its fury. It will not taper into peace all of this night long. It is not gone. It is that around the girl summer bright has erupted into full song. Where she staggers to rest among the rocks that decorate the shore, sea grasses waft their scent and the warmth of a summer day caresses her terrified limbs.
A miracle indeed and yet, for those watchers is there not pity. Poor girl, alone and wracked with pain. What is this god of the ancients thinking? Not for her the useful miracle of a painless birthing. No. For her it is arch backed and splay limbed, her fingers gouging lines in the solid rock leaving trails of blood and broken nails.
For her , his Omnipresence has caused miraculous summer to heat her bones and bright her night. While the nightmare birthing is so awful it brings out of her bruised mouth, screams so terrible that even the noisy gulls in roost pause and cock their beady eyed heads in pity.
And there is more , more pain, more pity, more brightness and as the child is wrung from her, a trickle, then a gush, not now of blood….we are done for now with blood, but of water, pure and crisp and holy. It rushes forth into the exact place in this world where the infant saint has slithered into being. It runs across his upturned face and splashes clean his fresh new flesh.
Weary and relieved to be released this new mother takes up the little one and marvels at his steady gaze. Marvels at the dainty fingered hands and toes, at the upturned nose and tiny curled pink ears. Out of the horror of the pain she will never truly forget, she takes the son she never asked for into her arms and swears as a mothers does that her life will now and forever more be lived in his service.
Oh what a gift or curse to be the mother of a saint.
Image of St. Davids Cathedral – Nigel J Bevans