Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Time of Breaking

It is the time for breaking
Old platitudes depart;
We people-in-the-making
Must un-defend the heart.

It is the time of mourning
For what may never be;
Small truths no longer scorning
We face our finity.

It is the time for speaking
The words we could not say;
With no more image-tweaking
We face the light of day.

It is the time for grieving
The good we failed to do;
Too weak was our believing,
Too swift the moments flew.

It is the time for lighting
The lamps we need by night;
To read the wall’s strange writing
Demands a truer light.

It is the time of breaking
Our false strongholds of fear;
Hypocrisy forsaking,
For reckoning draws near.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Shadow of a Great brightness

There – not there!
Skittering at the edge of sight,
The shadow of a great brightness,
Wrenching my tear-filled eyes.

Have I seen truly?
Have I seen at all?
Ever, at all?
Moments of such illumination
My earth-sense doubts them real.

The shadow of a great brightness:
And, in our moon-struck folly,
We dare not whisper what we see,
Fearing the rolling of each other’s eyes,
Fearing the desecration of self-doubt,
Fearing, in fact, our own humanity,
In its amphibious state between the worlds.

There is more than meets the eye,
Yet we want our eyes to meet
In the shared language of our daily life
(Imagining that this is understood);
And the shadow of a great brightness
Remains our silent mystery.

Let us rather acknowledge that the limitation
Is rather in ourselves, who can’t else know
The things that great illuminations show –
Acknowledging we have so far to grow.

And the shadow of a great brightness
Is more real than sun and moon.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Last Passover

We were so blind that night,
Our eyes tight closed against truths too big to bear.
We saw, and we did not see,
We knew and remained ignorant
We were like men who stared at the letters
But could not read the words.

Now, with our world reborn,
Now that we finally truly begin to understand
(A beginning that will continue into all eternity,
For who can compass the infinite?),
Now, when the pattern is complete and its glory is revealed,
Now we know it could be no other way.
It had to be the Passover.

It had to be the Passover.
He was the new Moses, the better-than-Moses,
Who would lead his people to freedom through darkness and terror,
Who would take us out of slavery into the fullness of the promises,
Who would show us the way to our true home.
And He was the paschal lamb
The one whose blood was spilled so that,
Though we should feel the bitter cold that flows from the wings of the Angel of Death,
Yet it would not touch us
And we need no longer be afraid.
And He was the unleavened bread in whom no hint of corruption lived,
And the bitter herbs became his crown of thorns.

It had to be the Passover.
Yet we were so blind.
We did not see how his every word, every gesture,
Was loaded with layers of meaning.
We did not see the sorrow and agony that lay beneath his gravity.
Nothing made sense to us then.

He took the bread and broke it.
“This is my body,” He said.
These were words that could tear the universe apart
And we simply took and ate.
We did not know that his body would be broken
So that we could be made one;
One with each other,
One with God Himself,
One with his purpose and his power.
(But, Oh, the horror of that breaking!)

And then He took the cup,
That solemn cup
Of ordinary wine,
“This is my blood of the New Covenant,
Poured out for many
For forgiveness of sins.”
We had no idea.
We were too afraid to ask.
But now we rejoice as the forgiven.

Every year we had spoken the words
Eaten the food
Remembered and remembered,
Drunk the wine
And never seen
It all was pointing forwards and not back:
Not to Moses but to Christ.

He made the blind to see.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Equipoise (Easter Saturday)

There is deep silence at the heart of things:
The still point at the swinging of the tide,
Pause between heartbeats, space between our breaths,
The first star that comes blinking to our view,
The hanging moment of the pendulum
Before it courses back, the equipoise,
The turning point when everything hangs still.

And thus with time: this day, the silent day,
The day between the days, when death and life
Hung equipoised in some eternal place,
The victory surely known, but not to us.
Your people waited, hushed, as audience,
Who did not know there was another act
Yet still gazed at the curtain in despair –
For surely, surely, this was not the end?

Therefore we wait in every turning point,
Between the breathing out and breathing in,
Between the understanding and the thought,
Between the darkness and the coming light,
The space that waits between our tears and prayers,
Knowing that you, yourself have been here too,
And sanctified our turmoil with your peace

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday Thoughts 2017

 This time last year I walked an English Spring
And all the promised wonders that ensue.fresh,
Where all was daffodil-shiny new,
And drank the metaphor of life reborn

This time, this year, my world to Autumn slopes
 The dying season hovers, close at hand,
Birds fly away and flowers turn to dust
The season’s adumbration cloaks the land.

So here I stand, as the year’s circle turns
And brings me back to Calvary once more
Where dark was darkest and death cruelled the earth
With hopelessness more bitter than before.

And here I visit but I shall not stay
I know the story and its gloried end;
I know my Winter has a future Spring
I know that He who died now calls me “friend”.

I know that He is life and shall not die
Again. I know His victory is complete,
His suffering is the anteroom to joy,
And it was death who suffered full defeat.

I know that seasons turn and roll and flow,
But He is faithful in His constancy.
He died, He rose, He lives forever more,
And on that day His love was sealed to me.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Thirst

I – skitter-minded, child of little thirsts,
Longing life’s mud puddles,
Quickly quenched,
Always, always,
Too easily satisfied,
Only acknowledging
Teaspoon deserts,
Which a little glitter hides.

You draw me to the silent places,
And open my aridity
Till my whole self yearns your streams,
Your living water.
Salt of the earth, you tease my tongue,
The puddles all evaporate
And this thirst feels like death,
My heart spun drier than the dust between the stars.

Except a grain of wheat …
Watered, I sprout.

But you – what did you thirst,
Hell raw on every nerve,
The torment of the utterly alone,
Strung from the precipice,
Falling into flame?
Angels held back, aghast,
At the unravelling of Life,
The coming down
To this.

Was it my thirst you bore,
Or something more:
Reaching out through everything
For me?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Let the Rain fall

Let the rain fall, bleak and hard
On the shadowed desolation
The wound at the heart of the world.

Let the torrents try
To cleanse the stain, the spot incarnadine,
Bleeding death, and fear and rottenness.

Let us gather all our great technologies –
Surely something will succeed?
Surely we can make our peace?

But failure sticks, chokingly, in our mouths
Till our mumblings make no sense
In the misery of rain.

There was only one way, only, ever one,
He took it, lashed with thorns, vicious with nails,
Into the desolation, the forsaken place…

Let the rain fall, gentle with blessing,
Let the skies sing triumph!
Let the angels' alleluias mend our faith again!

Whole in His brokenness, blood washed out by blood,
We begin again, acknowledging His victory:
The price we could not pay.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

And the Passover moon looks down

And the Passover moon shines down
And the man kneels in the garden
And the bent, gnarled trees kneel too,
While creation holds its breath.

Men sleep, this agony too much for them.
(In dreams we can forget).
But the trees know,
And the Spring breeze pauses its dance,
And the distant sheep are still.
Only the stars, steadfast in their constancy,
Have no fear that he’ll say “No!”
And unravel all redemption.

Those same angels
Who once ministered
When he endured the wilderness
Hold back now,
Covering their faces
Before such holiness.

“Nevertheless ..”
His will, already crucifed,
Accepts the cup,
Shrinking from its vileness.
And the trees lift up their branches,
Looking strangely like a cross.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tibouchinas in Holy Week

Tibouchinas in the rain
Purple flowers, sky of grey
Whisper of the king who came
Draped in our dark robe of pain.

Flowering when the autumn chill
Turns some other leaves to brown;
Here a promise to fulfil
When our world is turned around.

Promise, not of golden days,
Or of blossoms yet-to-be,
But the mercy in his gaze,
Love in our infirmity.

Promise to walk by our side
Through whatever grief we face.
Nailed to us, he will abide,
Lifting, leading into grace.

Promise of the mourning king,
Man of sorrows, Lord and God,
Promise that through everything
He is sealed to us by blood.

Tibouchinas in the rain,
Purple flowers for my king,
As my heart walks through again
The path of his suffering.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday

How do you ride in peace
Through the clamour of Hosanna?
The shouting of false dreams,
The loud hunger for a Kingdom
Which is not the one you bring?

You wear your kingship
Like a crown of thorns
While they throw their garments at your feet
Covering the stones,
Just for a moment,
And rejecting the chief cornerstone:

How do you bear it,
Knowing their stubborn pain
And the flippant excuses
Of hearts so disengaged?
Like children who turn
From one toy to another
Enjoying none,
Their anger waits the day.

Peace is the pattern of your gift
So you bring it bravely
To the place of violation
Where the Prince of Peace
Is not their heart’s desire:
When it comes to a choice
They would rather have Barabbas.

How do you ride in peace
Through the clamour of Hosanna?
Your face set to Jerusalem,
Your hands prepared for nails
Wearing your sorrow
Like the garments of a king?

Friday, April 07, 2017


Our words, so much less than
The inarticulate dream;
Our stumbling, bumbling counterfeits
Tumbling  from our lips
Grumbling with inadequacy
For what remains unsaid
Even when we say it.

We take Your words
And cut them up
Hoping to find actuality
In the inter-consonantal spaces,
And, when we find nothing
Declare that nothing’s there.

We are the impoverished
Who rise in the morning
And hear no angels’ song.
We are the foolish
Thinking words are less
Than our spirals of activity.
We are the ignorant
Who do not know
The power of Your words.
We are the arrogant
Making ourselves the measure
And the universe falls short.

How can You speak
Into the restless hubbub
Of our whirling self-justification?

Let us be willing
To wait in the silence,
Testing our words against truth
Falling silent
Waiting until
Your words remake the world

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Spoilsport

It was the best of times. I had never had it so good. Our property had recovered from my father’s foolish gift to my brother, and everything was thriving. We had more sheep, more cattle, more acres of land than ever before (because a prudent man re-invests by buying more good farmland with his profits, and the first thing I did when we could afford it was buy back the fields my father had sold to raise the money for my brother’s share of the inheritance – how I resented that!), and we were looking forward to record-breaking crops. True, we had heard rumours of a famine in faraway lands, but what was that to us? We can’t be responsible for other people’s misfortunes, if they squander their surplus in good years and keep nothing for the lean ones, well, they are to blame for their own troubles. A man must make his own wealth by his own hard work, or so I have always believed. And I certainly worked hard. From morning to night I was bustling about, organising this and fixing that, making sure none of our hired hands shirked in their labours. And in the busy periods I have never been above rolling up my sleeves and doing the work myself. Hard work is how a man earns respect in this world, and if you aren’t prepared to work you deserve to go without.

My father left more and more of the work to me, and that suited me fine. He would spend so much time gazing down the road as if he were expecting my brother to suddenly materialise on the road in front of him. Why, I don’t know, but old men have their fancies, and he must surely realise that I was worth a dozen of that idle scapegrace. A prosperous old age, and no lack of anything he might reasonably desire, that was my gift to him. I was a son any man could be proud of.

Then, one day, when the sun burned like a white flame, and the dust on the road was chokingly thick, my brother re-appeared. I was out in the fields, of course, and was only told later what had happened. My father saw him while he was still a long way off, and throwing aside every last vestige of the dignity belonging to our family, went running down the road to meet him. Only later did I learn that my brother had come back as a beggar and suppliant, as he should, in his disgrace, but my father would have none of it. Instead of sending him to work in the fields and sleep in the stables, he called for his robe and ring, and for the fatted calf to be killed for a feast of rejoicing.

It is beyond my understanding. Can’t he see that things were better without my brother? Can’t he see that my brother shouldn’t be rewarded for his behaviour? What will that teach him? The lazy boy has probably spent all his money on loose women and loaded dice. He is a disgrace! Somebody said, “look how much he loves him!” I don’t understand. He has done nothing to earn my father’s love! One bitter question rises in my throat like bile: whare is the fatted calf for me?