My Today

Faith is common currency here in Butetown. At St Mary’s (Church in Wales) Primary School we are able to beautifully give expression to all faiths within a Christian nurturing environment.

About 86% of our pupils are from Muslim families and there is wonderful respect of each other’s faith as we work together to build a strong, peaceful and cohesive community.

Over the last week or so, particularly during our celebration of Refugee week and the conversations I’ve been able to have with some of our young people, I’ve given much thought to the beauty of Butetown, and the nurturing environment the school is able to give to children, and I’ve had some lovely conversations about faith and belief.

It’s not the same experience some of us have experienced in the past, and we want to be part of a world of peace where all are respected, and where faith and belief and belonging are valued.

A little poetic reflection.

1970s, 1980s,
growing up into the Valleys,
I kept my head down about faith.
Don’t admit, if you can,
being Christian.
Avoid the talk.
It’s not cool.
It doesn’t fit with football or friends.
Curl the conversation astray.
Just kick the ball away.
It’s easier that way.

But that was yesterday.

It’s a world away from today.
And I’m a 20 mile,
40 year journey
from my childhood days.
I’m back in Butetown,
where Faith is not far from football,
and boxing doesn’t punch the Faith away.

For me,
I was the only known boy
in my whole school year
to “go to church,”
back in those glitter ball days.
There was ridicule then,
here in this Christian Country
and so I kept the ball at arm’s length,
kicked it into touch.

I’m back in Butetown.
Because I was never here before I came -
apart from my grandfather
who welded his way
among the ships here
along the water’s edge,
some time after his teenage years
were spent in the dark canals,
the deep underground,
hacking coal,
shipped this way,
back before a war which challenged faith
and kicked God into touch.

In Butetown,
faith is not such a strange thing.
It’s a common language,
spoken on the streets,
shared in shops,
understood, respected.
There is difference and change.
But there is no reason
to keep your head down
about faith.

And so I get something
of what it means
to be the different one.
The one who tries to make it
all worthwhile
in a kick to goal
or a touchdown
or a sprint across the line,
avoiding the harsh calls
from the touch lines,
shurking the “bible basher” jokes
at the end of the
council street cul-de-sac
and it’s dead end dreams.
I was there before I met you,
avoiding the talk,
wishing it was yesterday,
a world away
from what is my today.

2 thoughts on “My Today

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