Runwell – a poem by Jonathan Evens



Passing graves - carefully tended, loaded with memories - 
and shrubbery - sculpted and shaped -
on the path leading to this medieval church. 
Approach the rickety wooden porch 
with flecks of paint remaining 
from its earlier medieval-lite decoration.
Open the heavy wooden door inwards
to reveal, among the gloom,
a brightly painted, though faded, interior - screen and murals -
mimicking medieval origins.
Let the silence seep into your soul, 
as the cold into your bones.
Explore and tour the minor marvels
of this hidden place, 
packed within the smallness 
of its tardis-like space.
Tales of heritage and folklore
layered in stone and art,
worship and time, artefact and ritual.
Travel in time and through tales
in a place and space
where God is our beginning 
and our end is God,
where the inside can be spied
from the outside, and the outside in,
where the devil may have left
his mark on the exit door,
where the local Bobby regularly waited 
on all Hallows Eve to prevent disruption, 
where a last prioress,
from the nunnery by the well,
was reputedly laid to rest 
in a tomb that is now empty;
yet which retains 
a unique carved cross -
the Runwell cross -
four circles in a square; 
the instrument of our redemption 
set within a sign 
of the perfection of God.
God is our beginning 
And our end is God.
Spring of living water welling up,
run well through life and time,
run well in this place and space,
its layers and its mystery,
its tales and its history.


Time, there has been time, aeons of time.
Time to run well through life, 
time to tell tales and accrue tales,
time for pilgrims, nuns and congregants to gather and disperse, 
time for marks, murals, memorials marking the passage of time,
time for interments and burials,
and for exhumations, 
time to begin and end projects -  orphanages and schools,
time to build and sell vicarages and rectories,
time to decorate and time to strip back,
time to carve altars, crosses and stations,
time for the devil to make his mark,
time for prayers to seep into the walls, windows and stones,
time to sit still in silence and know
God is our beginning 
and our end is God


Water rises from the ground,
a never-failing spring,
well water, life-giving, wellbeing,
running water, running well
through life and time and ages.
Settlers build homes and a church, a village rises nearby.
Pilgrims pass by, praying with nuns,
as they receive and bless.
Farmers work the land fruitfully 
using the well's water. 
Boxing Day walkers, led by Mr De’ath,
visit for relaxation, exercise and inspiration. 
See them come as one, 
see them come layered in time, 
see them come
to the same source, the same well,
the same water, each receiving
differing meaning, still
each receiving well. Run well
in Runwell continuing source
of wellbeing, running still,
still running, ever flowing,
beginning in God, 
ending in God, flowing continually
through time and eternity. 
Run well, water of life, run well.

Jonathan Evens is Team Rector for Wickford and Runwell. Previously Associate Vicar for HeartEdge at St Martin-in-the-Fields, he was involved in developing HeartEdge as an international and ecumenical network of churches engaging congregations with culture, compassion and commerce. He is co-author of The Secret Chord, an impassioned study of the role of music in cultural life written through the prism of Christian belief, and writes regularly on the visual arts for national arts and church media including ArtlystArtWay and Church Times. He blogs at

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