This review of No Shore Too Far is from Towards Wholeness issue no 149 Autumn 2017. Towards Wholeness is the journal of the Friends Fellowship of Healing, which in turn is an informal group of the Religious Society of Friends. Many thanks to Judy Clinton for writing this review.
Jonathan Stedall, who made documentary films for over fifty years, largely for the BBC, wrote this series of poems for his wife, Jackie, who died in 2014 from cancer.
The author describes these poems, which were written since the death of Jackie, as meditations on death, bereavement and hope. Some of the poems are deeply personal: specifically about Jackie, Jonathan’s relationship to her and the depth of his loss and grief. Others are reflections on where this bereavement has taken Jonathan in his thoughts and feelings about ‘the Bigger Picture’ – a deeper reality within which we live and die and where, he senses, communion with the departed is still possible.
I wept my way through many of these poems – not only because they resonated with my own experiences of grief but because they connected me to ‘the Other’ – that which is mystery and deeply loving and which we can turn to for comfort, inspiration and hope.
These are profoundly spiritual poems, written in non-religious language (although within some of them there are religious references to different traditions). They contain a gentle questioning, a human fluctuation in spiritual certainty, searching and expression of human experiences of many different kinds. Underpinning it all lies a quiet knowing that there is ‘No shore too far’. I found this to be the most beautiful, moving and thought provoking book of poetry I have read in a long time.
The preface to the book and a selection of the poems can be viewed on Jonathan Stedall’s website: www.jonathanstedall.co.uk
Buy the book here…
Towards Wholeness is the journal of the Friends Fellowship of Healing, and all members receive three issues per year. For more information about the FFH please contact David Mason, 2 Fir Avenue, New Milton, Hants, BH25 6EX, firstname.lastname@example.org.