Thursday, 29 October 2015

A Christian Adventure in Morocco by Ann Phillips

(A leap into writing poetry.)

Many years ago, almost it seems like a different life, I was studying at a Bible College in Cambridge and hoping to go to India as a missionary.

At the end of one summer term our Principle and her husband planned to drive through France, cross into Morocco and visit missionary friends, five students joined them; we set off early one morning in their camper van armed with our Bibles,suncream, notebooks, pencils and high expectations!

Our Head of college was a vibrant, creative lady who not only taught Theology, Church history, Hebrew and Greek but also enjoyed writing poetry, and her delight in crafting words was communicated to us.

We drove through France crossing over into Morocco; Arriving at Tangiers, we were so glad to find hot showers and comfy beds! Our hosts were the St John family, medical missionaries who worked at a clinic in the city.

Encouraged by my friends I wrote my first poem, about my enduring memory from camping in France.


Poppies, red as blood, stand in serried ranks

Wind blown, row on row

Soldiers; our countries life,

It's youth, it's aspirations, dreams

Are fallen now.

Row on row, crossed tragedies....

My first attempt, as you can see, is not great, however I press on!

We travelled from Tangiers to Marrakesh camping in the official site, situated in the heart of Marrakesh where we spent several days wandering through the narrow passageways soaking up the atmosphere.

We moved on, driving over the Atlas mountain range, dropping down onto the edge of the sandy Sahara. We came at last to Ouzarzate, the focus and aim of our trip.

Here the missioaries were quite isolated and valued visitors who brought news and fellowship to them and to the few local christians.(Remember this was the 1970's. Now Ouzarzate is a tourist destination!)

We stayed a week, enjoying traditional Moroccan hospitality. We visited the nearest oasis following one of the few rivers, seeing the fertility the waters brought to the Bedouin; and visited some spectacular rocky outcrops shaped by wind and sand. We experienced our first and only sand storm, not pleasant even within the shelter of a mud brick house, let alone a tent!

A poem from that visit:


Shimmering heat strikes sparks off bare rock,

Road winds on and merges with horizon

Red-hot, time moves on to its zenith

While sweating bodies cry out against flies, dehydration, apathy.

Are mirages near?

No mirage, but towering walls of rock

Bringing weird shapes and echoing voices.

A languid river, cool green, welcomes us, slakes thirst.

Shade of olive groves and feathery palms reassure

Here's cultivation, action, life.

It was a beginning. I have written many poems since then but only recently have I started taking writing seriously as I have the time to learn the craft, attending poetry workshops and experimenting with other genres. Better late than never!

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating account Ann and your poetry is beautiful.