The sound of music drifting out from a Welsh church is a very special thing, which does strange things to the souls of the most un-God fearing person.
To hear the voices of small children singing in Welsh is a whole new level, which we would assert would be the welcome one receives as one approaches the Pearly Gates.
So it was that on a sunny autumnal day at St. Teilo’s Church in Mynyddygarreg the local school children walked down the hill with Kidwelly castle to their front looking incredible with the coast line of Tenby and Caldey Island the in the distance.
Canon Bryan Witt and the many helpers had decorated the church beautifully with candles, ivy and of course harvest produce such as fruit and vegetables. This was the first time I had set foot inside this tiny church and it was impressive. There are windows on all sides of the church ensuring that the light spilled in and illuminated the walls and roof, which had a beautiful round made of beams. The pews resembled classroom benches of old. Oak we would assume and each of them taken by mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers and visitors such as Peggy, Hen Fenyw Fach Cydweli dressed in an outstanding Welsh costume complete with tall hat.
You really could not get more Welsh than this. As the children read out their thanks for things in their lives like Mum and Dad, food, television and radio the congregation looked on and applauded their every effort. A small school, which had been threatened with closure filling a small church, which needs that community activity.
Canon Witt spoke about the difficulties for the local community during the pandemic, not least the isolation and the sadness of not being able to attend a funeral. Although to some it may seem a blessing that it is over and a distant memory, for those who were in the thick of it like Canon Witt, the pain and suffering still echoes. Where was God in all of this I asked? That answer is simple Canon Witt said. “He is there with all of us during the suffering. He is with family and friends.”
Peggy sat at the rear of the church on a simple chair beside a vase of fresh cut flowers almost like that famous picture ‘Salem’. All around the Christian symbol of the cross, gold in colour, glistening in the sunlight. Every now and then there was silence and it was then that one could really take in the surroundings. More singing, reading and prayers and a story from Canon Witt about fruit; what else?
The story had a moral, which one would expect from the clergy having an opportunity to speak to the young and old of the community. It was a story of what was special about each of the fruits. Of course the children listened intently and raised their hands when asked if they liked each of the fruits in the story. Finally Canon Bryan Witt delivered the punchline, the clincher, the moral of the story. The lowly apple decided it was not attractive, not special. He deftly cut open an apple and revealed the star that is formed by the pips. Everyone is special in some way he said, whether it is inside or out.
Well there were some special people at the harvest festival with angelic voices and great talents. For one afternoon in October at least, this small community was united in celebration and worship, something they had been deprived of for almost three years and something they all hope and pray will never return to blight communities across the World.
News is a strange thing. It happens and sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time. On returning home from the church I came across some jolly people posing for a photograph at the sign for Heol Ray Gravell. It was a TV production team from s4c following the journey of four walkers crossing Wales, each previously unknown to each other. Geraint Roberts a local man told me about the rich history around Mynyddygarreg and Kidwelly. Geraint listed Ray Gravell and Gwenllian as two of his local heroes. Geraint pointed out that the industrial museum was now closed. What a venue that would have been for the TV company. “There has been a building there since 1737,” he said. Coincidentally they were heading to meet a lady called Peggy too. I left the foursome to walk down the same road as the children had walked along earlier and to marvel at the sight of Kidwelly castle on this lovely autumnal day. If only they had been ten minutes earlier they too would have heard that heavenly singing. Am Dro will air on S4C some time soon.