Saturday, October 27, 2012


Deep are these waters, deep and moving fast,
My mind, caught in the eddy and the swing,
Falters at knowing, yet is called to know,
The wonder and the mercy of this thing.

Once I would look at lepers on the street
Shuffling past, “Unclean!” their bitter cry,
Locked up within the prison of disease –
Yet these, I knew, were far more clean than I.

I, daughter of the seed of Abraham,
Born in the covenant, the fold of God,
Was now a creature of such bitter shame
I cringed from streets where decent women trod.

I cringed, and in the lonely bitter night,
I wondered how my life had come to be
A gagging poison moving in my veins
A tremulous and hated infamy.

But oh, my story is as old as time,
When the seducer came, well, I was weak,
And ignorant, believing this was love
Soon I became the victim false men seek.

Shame spiraled down through shame, and down some more,
Until that day they grabbed me from some bed,
And hauled me forth with coarse and cruel jests
I stood there silent, broken, with bent head,

Awaiting stones; but that day no stones came
Instead clear words I never thought to hear
Turned the accusers back upon themselves.
For the first time, I felt a different fear.

I heard their footsteps leaving, one by one,
Till all was silence, then I raised my eyes.
He looked at me as though my soul were real
And there was nothing for him to despise.

I did not understand, how could I then?
My dirty life was clean. My soul reborn
Sang with the angels, laughed against the night
And rose up like a bird into the dawn.

He took my shame, I never dreamt what cost
He placed on it – for shame he paid such price!
My worthless life was reckoned at such worth:
Purification comes through sacrifice!

And so he gave what I had never sought;
And so I live, and so he died for me,
And so his dear blood has my freedom bought.
He was made captive for my liberty.

I walk in wonder, I am mercy’s thrall,
Unfeigned, unstained, a captive of delight:
Washed into whiteness, no shame to recall,
And lifted into glory clean and bright.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things you shouldn't say

Somewhere along the way I missed the memo.

Perhaps it was a fluff-cloud day,
When my heart was in the sky,
My attention wandering.

Or maybe fear
Clanked chains so loud
I simply didn’t hear.

Or maybe my parents.
For reasons all their own
Forgot to give the message.

Perhaps I was simply
Socially dyslexic -
Or someone switched the tags?

Somehow, it seems, I never learned the rules.
So much is understood, but never spoken
By some strange code whose key I never saw:
Truth reconstructed in a neater frame
To fit in some denatured comfort zone.
I will go wander with the daffodils,
Who never blush or stammer at my words,
And maybe ponder this strange mystery,
Or maybe not .. perchance a bird might sing. ..

Monday, October 22, 2012

Going away

Going away

It is only when you leave that you remember
The smell of eucalyptus in the air,
The rain that drums so hard and fiercely tender
The sunlight far too bright for you to bear.

The artful architecture of the gum trees
Where each branch twists in balance to the whole
Where leaves are worn as garnish, not as garment,
Their beauty has been rooted in my soul.

The balmy air of a soft summer morning,
Before cicadas sing the heavy heat
A sky so blue you yearn with reaching sorrow
And ground too hot to walk on in bare feet.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Music

The Music

Sometimes I hear it in a sudden snatch of birdsong,
The intensity of rain,
Your footsteps in the breeze.
You laugh through the cicadas
And splash in the fountains:
Air and water sing of you.

But more often I hear with my eyes.
The sky’s infinity sings of you:
Blueness in immeasurable caress.
I catch your tune in the rain-dropped leaves,
The gladness of buttercups,
The playfulness of clouds.
The lift of a bird’s wing
Breaks my heart with melody,
And the trees cry “Hallelujah!”
In antiphonal chorus.
The waves crash with angelic percussion,
And the small things warble, “yes!”
But clearest of all, the music sounds in stories.
Its chords ring out in courage and sacrifice,
Pianissimo in tenderness,
And marching sharp in truth.
Harps sound in common kindness,
And flutes in soul’s resolve.
The mystery of grace demands
An orchestra of tears.
In the story of your love
The music swells past bearing.

Blessed are the ears that hear,
And the souls that listen
And the hearts that understand.
Blessed are they that sing
Your own notes back to you
However out of tune.
And blessed are the feet that move in time
To the melody of heaven.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Let ..

Let me dance in your heart this fragile moment,
Let us kiss souls with wonder we have seen.
Let us hold hands and weep for life’s short-falling,
Let us hold vigil for what might have been.

Let us strew roses in the sunless alleys,
Let us plant trees where no tree ever grew,
Let us be unafraid to speak affection
Nor, in discomfort, turn from what is new.

Let us clap with delight like little children.
Let terrible compassion make us wise.
Let us breathe deep and share our secret dreaming.
Let us not let our old clothes cramp our size.

Let us wipe slow tears from each other’s faces
Let us look up and laugh against the sky.
Let us be swords – but not against each other.
Let us take up the Life that bids us die.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Knowing ..

They knew him in the breaking of the bread
But we are strangers now, and do not stay
But leave him lying buried in the hay

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Road

The beginning of the road called Love is so attractive that many people choose it. Not everyone does, of course, some prefer the golden road of Greed, or the stark, twisting road of Power, and others are drawn to Knowledge, or Pleasure or even choose to go nowhere at all. But it starts in wide meadows of flowers and soft sunshine, and many think that they have arrived when they have barely passed the entry point, and sit around in easy groups making daisy chains. What becomes of them when the storms gather, and the cracking lightning sizzles across the open fields, I do not know, but perhaps they have to make a real choice for the first time in their lives.

But the meadows are only the beginning of the road. It continues. Fairly soon (though sooner for some than for others, but such is the nature of the road) another road branches off, broad and fair, There is a row of fine hotels there, which cost almost nothing to inhabit. Many turn aside there, for surely this is a pleasant place to go, and look what pleasant people are already there. And every hotel is called ‘Nice’. And those that turn off at this point keep straying further, for each hotel seems more agreeable than the one before, and they are so pleased with themselves for becoming ‘nice’ people, that they do not even notice that each hotel is made of thinner and thinner cardboard.

But the road called Love continues, and gradually the travellers notice that three possibilities have developed. On the right hand side the road surface goes harder and smoother. Eventually it veers off from the road called Love, into Moralism. Those who take that exit will find it leads them at last to a stern wilderness strewn with rocks. As fast as they try to build themselves shelters there from the rocks, they pull them off again in order to throw them at one another. On the other edge, the left side, the path gets softer and softer, until your feet start to sink into it like sand. Eventually this veers off into the road called Tolerance, and those who follow it end up in a slow quicksand. Because they are all sinking they cannot pull each other out.

Meanwhile, shed of these diversions, the road named Love continues. It is narrower now, and goes more steeply. Sometimes it is so steep that one has to use both hands and feet to climb it. Sometimes it is so narrow it feels like walking a tightrope. Many turn back or stop when they reach those places. Some even devote themselves to telling others not to go there, “it’s too dangerous”. They do not understand that, though there may be scrapes and bruises, no one can ever fall very far. There is always a safety net: the Everlasting Arms are stretched to catch any who lose their footing, and lift them up once again.

At last, and the road is a different length for every traveller, they reach the summit of the road. It is a stark, bare hill, surmounted with a cross. By this time the journey has changed the traveller, and they rarely hesitate. Willingly they climb up to the cross, willingly they embrace it. And the moment that should be death becomes the moment of transformation, for the road of Love is the road to LOVE, LOVE in all its fullness, and they know themselves truly to be the beloved of the Beloved.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My short rant

Some say that women have full equality, and are just “playing the gender card”. But women are not equal
n  While many more baby girls are killed by selective abortion and infanticide
n  While women can’t go out alone at night for fear of sexual assault
n  While the physical signs of aging are not treated with the same social respect in women as they are in men
n  While many kinds of religious leaders regard women as spiritually inferior
n  While a woman’s protests against injustice are dismissed as ‘emotionalism’ or ‘that time of the month’
n  While a woman’s experience in raising children is treated negatively in the workforce
n  While many parts of the world do not think that women need much education
A just society starts with each individual choosing to live justly and oppose injustice

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Warrior

How I longed for the freedom of Israel! I hated the Roman yoke we struggled under, and I was quite convinced that most of the problems I saw around me were the direct result of our nation being under Gentile oppression, and that if only we could be liberated from them, we would truly be the Israel of God that the prophets had described. My friends nick-named me the Zealot for my passionate views.

I was surprised when the Teacher called me to be one of his disciples, but I was entranced by the beauty of his teaching, and impressed by his miraculous powers. Surely he was the one sent by God to deliver us? So I followed, and I sat as his feet and I learned. He knew the scriptures better than any rabbi I had ever heard, but when he explained them, they came together in a different pattern. Truth itself was a different shape to what I had thought. The Kingdom of God, as he described it, was so different to the correct religious observances that the priests taught us. There was freedom there, as well as justice, and something else I couldn’t put a name to. Only later did I learn to call it love.

And the miracles? Truly he had the power of God! He could heal the sick, the blind and the deaf, calm a storm, feed a multitude from almost nothing, and even raise the dead. With such power, how could he not defeat the Romans and bring about a greater Israel than David or Solomon ever knew?

Even when they arrested him, I hoped this would be the moment when he turned the tables and showed his power. But it wasn’t like that. Convinced that something had gone horribly wrong, we fled the scene and cowered in hiding. Wasn’t he going to fight for us at all?

It was only days later that I began to understand. Yes, he was fighting for us in every moment of his suffering. Sometimes the warrior is not the one who beats everyone else up. Sometimes he is the one who gets beaten. It takes so much courage to suffer in silence for another’s sake. I thought the victorious fighter was the one with the shining armor and the blood-smeared sword. I was so wrong.

Our greatest need wasn’t to defeat Rome, our greatest enemies weren’t the Romans, but those who could devour Rome, Israel, and every human being that ever was or will be. Our greatest enemies were Sin, Death and Satan, and in that lonely torment on the cross he overcame them all. Calmly and deliberately, he walked into the ultimate darkness, and made a way. He was life, the very life of God himself, and that life was the light of men. It is easy to be brave when you operate in your strength, and the cheering crowd supports you. But to fight alone, invisibly, under insult and derision, and still stay faithful to the end? Such is my hero, my warrior, my Lord and my God.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Visiting Dachau

Dizzy with dreams we drop into a time
Where no dreams were: this stretch of bitter stone
Where the soulless aridity of scorn
Screams at the anguished, “Now you are alone!”

“What is a man?” The wind, so cold, so spare,
Pierces with mocking questions the great void
Between our sweet reality and theirs;
Thus are our bright illusions crushed, destroyed.

What separates us? Sixty seven years,
An educated nod to being kind,
A literature and a geography:
The comfortable counties of the mind.

But what unites us blows with bitter teeth
Across those counties. I and they are one
In all our fumbling, broken, human fear,
In what we dream, and what we leave undone.

As vulnerable as they, but not as brave,
I stand diminished, and I stand in tears,
Yearning their courage as I fear their pain,
Knowing that no attrition of the years

Must dim their story. At the chapel door
One crown of thorns says all that we can say:
The crucified stands with the least of these
And strips our false self-images away.