Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Prayer in a Time of Fire

For the grey-green forest,
Lyrical in beauty,
Nurturing life and joy –
Now gone.
We pray

For those who rise in courage
To battle monsters,
To bear the dragon’s breath,
Struggling, exhausted,
We pray.

For those who cower
On new-crowded beaches
Desolate with fear
And too much loss to count
We pray.

For history made palpable:
Country townscapes
Wearing charm and welcome
Utterly destroyed
We pray.

For those so cruelly bludgeoned
Grieving for the arms
That will never touch again
And the words now no more spoken
We pray.

For sweet summer air made bitter
Tainted by smoke,
Choking and unbreathable
Blotting out the sun
We pray.

Let us never be a people
Of cold hearts and crossed arms
Wearing indifference as a shield
Terminally self-seeking
We pray.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Elizabeth Speaks

The flesh is fading, but the love is strong
And wonder overwhelms my every breath;
For who am I to walk in miracles
When, humanly, my womb was only death?

I did not hear the wild angelic words:
What do I know of angels and their ways?
Yet he, my learned husband, is struck dumb
While my lips open wide to sing God’s praise.

I do not know if it is shame or pride
That bids me hide myself from careless eyes
The while my body swells with burgeoned life
And all my soul’s a-tremble with surprise.

There is a knowing deep, deep in the bone,
Where all my living comes down to this place:
This life in me that reason can’t explain,
This aged flesh a temple of his grace.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

My grandmother's oak

My grandmother’s oak (I think of it as hers)
Is growing old now, with some branches bare;
I watch it, fleeting, from the passing train,
And think back fifty years, when she was there.

All histories bear their own entanglements,
And I, still near a child, I did not know,
And know not yet what she was to herself,
Or how her years spelled out their ebb and flow.

Now, looking back, my guesses grow more sharp,
But, sharper still, the holes I cannot guess,
Yet she is still a memory of love,
A shade within my childhood’s wilderness.

Monday, December 09, 2019

No magic wands

(against the snake oil salesmen)

There are no magic wands,
No miracle cures,
No happy-stance comets
Blazing with pre-set glory
For those who learn and do the right techniques,
Or say the sorcerous words.
Or pay the fee
To some bright charlatan who laughs away
Long years of patient learning with the nudge
That they know all the secrets.

Sit, walk, stand
Under the truth;
Know that the world grinds on
With sludge, drudge, trudge,
With pain borne heavily
With shoulders bowed,
With harsh mortality,
And everyone
Must drink the cup until the world shall change.

And yet
We draw in mercy with each breath
We drink down kindness, wonder, beauty, joy
Here in the very valley of dry bones,
Singing the songs of worlds we’ve not yet trod
Where flowers bloom from every swardy sod
Dark powers shattered by the iron rod
Forged from the nails that thought they could kill God.

His peace, his peace
Sings over everything.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Mary's Questions

Oh angel! It is so easy for you
To tell me not to fear –
You who dwell in light unimaginable,
Forever praising God,
What do you know of fear?

My path is different;
Even in Spring’s upspringing
I feel the slow drag of flesh,
And the questions, like a thousand sword-points,
Bearing down upon me:
What will my mother say?
And Joseph, how will I explain
That I bear Another’s child?
Unless an angel comes to him,
How shall he believe?
And my friends (I can see it now):
Cruel smiles, pointing fingers,
Whispers I only just hear?
This is a small, small town,
I can get away with nothing.
Oh angel, have you any idea?

In this hour of second-guessing
Where has my courage gone?
And who am I to raise a child
Who is not like any other?

He will be the Son of God –
And my mind retreats
From the unearthly strangeness of it all …
But he will be God!
God himself
Will be a baby!
God himself
Will need me,
Will be vulnerable, alone,
Will need me.
God himself
Will taste of fear,
Will understand
This path I scarcely name.
God himself
Will be with me, will be so small, so small …

Let it be to me according to your word.