Saturday, June 16, 2018

Iona

Let your word be as fire to my heart,
Fire to my bones.
Let your word rinse clean my soul
And restore my spirit,
Give wings to my breath
And iron to my will.
Let my feeble lips proclaim it
And my feeble fingers write it.
Let it burn through the world a restoring flame,
Till all creation is renewed.

For the light shines in the darkness
And the darkness has not overcome it.
It shines still.
Cowardice and ignorance,
The preference for the easy way,
Have not overcome it. 
It shines still.

Murder and cruelty,
Pillage and ferocity
The careless violence of violent men,
Blood shed upon blood
Have not overcome it.
It shines still.

The seduction of plenty,
The greed of our fear,
The applause of men
And the lure of cheap power
Have not overcome it.
It shines still.
And the prayers of the ages are a river of deep grace.

They did not come walking on water.
They came as men come
In a coracle, a boat:
Riding the waves into history.
Flesh and blood, flesh and blood,
And lamps for God to burn in,
Carrying, in their smallness,
The weight of all the Word.

They came in sorrow and penitence
And found work that was worthy of their hands.
They came in long self-doubting
And built in solid rock.
They came through storm and passion
And brought eternal peace.

Let us be as they were,
Quivering with truth
Alight with love
Welded to Christ by fire
In a bond that cannot be broken.

Let us be as they were
The dead reborn alive
Seeking no kingdom of our own
In love with our King forever.

Let us be as they were
Holding no weapons in our hands
Learning to be crucified
In little daily things
So that we might love forever.


Let us enter the furnace of God’s love.

Monday, June 11, 2018

At Smethstow

I said my prayers today
Where coppered trees bend low
Above the clear brown stream:
This beauty I can know.

I saw my Saviour’s love
In every tender flower:
Caressing every leaf,
Sustaining hour by hour.

The blackbird sang his praise
In notes so pure and clear.
So teach my heart to sing
To him I hold most dear.

And, on the shadowed path
Midst green and growing things,
I worshipped in quiet awe;
My soul, like swans, had wings.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

During theLong Haul Flight

 This juddering silence,
Wood between the worlds,
The strange, soft outage to be part of this,
This javelin, thrust high into the sky
By some vast hero, brute, mechanical,
This twilight of unbeing in the air.

This is the place where many are each one
Alone in solitary semi-night
Alone, alone as each one is alone
In birth and death and in their secret heart.

I cannot count the meaning of these things .
With the odd clarity that stupor brings
I breathe and wait,
Or simply wait and breathe,
Awake yet dreaming, counting down the time,
With the distraction of this rambling verse
Too slow?too fast? How every minute crawls
The while that life ticks by relentlessly

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lines Written on a PolishTrain

(after seeing a little golden statueofa duck with a crown)

Let the crowned ducks flame with gold!
Let them flame in jubilation!
Let the sparrows sing hosanna
In dulcet tones of joy!
Let the mighty dance begin!

Let the hedgerows flowerbrilliance,
Let the forests gleam with life,
Letthe trodden grass spring up in exaltation,
And the wilderness grow green!

Let the flocks gather, in a torrent of wings,
Mightywings beating, while swans and eagles gather
To dance upon the air!

Let there be music!
Let the squirrels find a song
And the rabbits’feet drum rhythm,
Letthe small birds raise their voices
With the clarity of wonder!

Let the winds lift them, lift them
Into the sky, open unto forever!
Letthe sunlight laugh to receive them,
Let the rainmurmur a blessing,
Let the heart be free to finally let go!
Let the crowned ducksflame with gold!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Certitude


another from the archives
Somewhere beyond despair, I quietly wait
The gift not received, the tide to turn;
Upon that blessed hope I rest my pain,
My certitude possessing what I yearn.

Somewhere beyond this silence, there is song.
Somewhere above these clouds shines light so bright ...
Beyond this desolation - love, all love,
Eternal cherishing, and whole delight.

Bleak shores and storm-wracked seas. Take heart, lift sail!
There blows a wind that never blew before,
To take me through that tempest - dreadful place,
To haven-home, sun-lovely evermore.

Somewhere beyond the conflict, perfect peace!
Hands, which I cannot feel, are holding me;
And, underneath, the everlasting arms,
I am secure for all eternity!

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Secure

This is a real oldie from the archives. I was only 19 or 20 when I wrote this!


How shall I step outside His love
Who am so firmly bound?
For His great mercy, like a cloak,
Wraps me around.

Covering all my shamefulness
With His own garment of delight.
Dazzling my soul with what He gives,
Wondrously bright!

Yes, I shall cleave me unto Him,
And unto Him alone:
For he has bought me with a price,
I am His own!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Learning to Die


It is beyond any logic to imagine that man could teach God anything, but in a sense, a terrible, world-reversing sense, that is exactly what happened. And, of course, the rest of the story is so much greater, for God in turn taught and showed man so much more than we could ever dream or imagine, and gave back to the human race far more than our wildest imagination could ever have conceived. But before all the wonder and glory came to be, man had to teach God the experience of death, and then God had to teach man how to rightly die …

He was in anguish, and his wounds were beyond counting – the thorn cuts on his head, the agony of each nail that had been driven through his limbs, the deep lacerations of the Roman scourge that had been laid on his back more times than he could count in such extremity, and now were abraded into new pain by the rub of the rough wood upon his back. Every breath was torture; it was a terrible way to die.

But there was more. God knew, far more clearly than any finite, sin-encumbered human brain possibly could, the exact, hideous nature of sin and death. But he had never experienced them till now: the abject desolation and existential aloneness of being cut off from life and love, the choking terror of despair. God had to learn to die.

But it was God who had to show man how to deal with death. Later he would reveal something even more wonderful, that death had been defeated and now was only a dark shadow which must be walked through to glory, not an all-devouring monster. But today was for the dying. What is mortal man to do in the face of the last enemy?

He forgives. He shows compassion. He takes thought for the needs of others. He is honest about the raging thirsts of his body and soul. These are all part of the process.  But there is something deeper to address.  How does a man face the annihilation of everything he is, of the only self he has ever known? How does a man say goodbye to love and pleasure and every good and beautiful thing he has ever known? How does a man let go of the air in his lungs and the rhythm of his heartbeat? In that emptiest of places, how does he keep on believing? How can he know? Courage can take you so far, gritted faith may take you further, but there is a terrible unknowing which soaks them up that soaks them up like the desert soaks up rain.

But he has shown them a way to die that keeps courage and faith when you no longer have the strength to lift them up. “Into your hands I commit my spirit!” There is the answer, right in the eye of the tornado of mortal dread.  There is so much we cannot know on this side of death and dying, but it doesn’t matter. Our trust is not to be placed in theological formulae. Our trust is to be placed into the hands of the Father who has loved us utterly from all eternity. We have no map for that journey, except that we know that the only bridge is a cross. It doesn’t matter. He will carry us. He will carry us through the things no earthly metaphor can capture and bring us to himself. He has made us and he will bear the burden. He will carry us and bring us to safety. He will bring us home to himself.