Monday, June 26, 2017

Walk softly

Walk softly with great love, walk softly.
Be tender, do not trample those beneath you.
Let the bruised and the broken
Be the burden of your heart
Walk softly.
Be aware, aware,
Aware.
Be merciful, giving honour,
Be aware.
Let their cries become your cry
In the mystery of faith.
Walk softly.

Dance wildly into joy, dance wildly.
Let the bright winds catch your hair.
Move to the rhythm of the angels’ song
Here, in the cold plains of exile.
Be aware,
Always,
Dancing wildly,
Making room
For the Kingdom
And the Glory
In the measure of your steps,
In the Hope that sets you singing.
Dance wildly.

Kneel quietly, entering prayer, kneel quietly.
Know your own smallness, and be glad,
For our weakness is His strength.
Be Spirit-winged.
Be aware,
Always,
Kneeling quietly
In the sanctum of your heart,
Breathing grace
And trust,
Surrendering,
Kneel quietly.
  
Run firmly in your race, run firmly,
Do not turn aside for golden apples
Thrown by weak desires
And secret follies.
Be aware,
Always,
Running firmly.
Knowing who is your goal,
Continuing,
Through heat and cold,
The long tumult of the years,
Laughing against the byways.
Run firmly.

And the sunlight will sing to you,
The mercy will flow through you.
Humility will release you
And the stars will call you home.

Not For This

It was not for this that I sang sweet songs of adoration to my God, that I praised him and proclaimed him from the time my fingers were long enough to stretch across the strings. It was not for this that I told my people, in words, in music, in every possible way, that the Lord’s ways were altogether righteous, and him only should they serve – not so that I should be the most flagrantly disobedient of them all.

It was not for this that I bore with the vagaries of Saul, his dark, dark moods and his murderous jealousy. It was not for this that I fled when he threw his spear, and that even when I caught him in the cave and he was in my power, I refrained from harming him because I would not lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed. And I knew, even in those desperate years when I hid in the wilderness that the Lord’s favour was with me, and his anointing still stood through the barren space of years. And I have come down to this. I, who would not lift my hand against an unfaithful king have lifted it against a most faithful servant and taken his life, though by proxy. (It is still my blood-guilt. I know that now.) And I could not wait out my lust one little moment (though I waited out all of Saul’s revilings), but had to have the woman now, though she was not mine to take.

It was not for this that I found the courage of a pure faith (though I was little more than a child) and went forth to do battle with the monster Goliath who had dared insult my God. For I had not slain the monster within me: the monster of self-righteousness, the monster of entitlement, the secret, bitter, depravity of my own heart. And now it is laid bare for the whole of Israel to see, and God has shone his righteous light on the deeds I did in darkness, and there is no shame like mine.

All my life I have been a warrior, and a warrior-king, but the moment I stopped battling the enemies without, I surrendered without a battle to the enemy within. I had forgotten that God desires truth in the inward parts. I had slipped into thinking that it was enough to proclaim him in the great assembly of the people, and to support and uphold his worship. And now I am exposed – a murderer, an adulterer, and yes, (and this is bitter to male pride) a rapist, who took a woman unwilling when I had so many that were willing. Not for this was I anointed king.

And now there is nothing left but to cry out to God and pray for him to change me. For I cannot make myself clean. Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. I have stood against monsters and mighty foes, but I never needed you then as much as I need you now. Do not cast me away from your presence, do not take your Holy Spirit from me. It was not for this that you made me, it was not for this that you exalted me, that I might shame your holy name. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, for I cannot live without you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Invitation to sleep

Body, be at rest,
Day’s doings done!
The world will turn without you.
Lay you down.
And let the great eternal forces
Carry you to morning.

Busy mind, be still!
Your thinking can’t
Change the world on its own.
It’s time to stop,
To trust,
To let your smallness carry you
To dreams of wonder and another day.

Soul, let go!
The mountains and the valleys and the heights
Will stand without you;
Whirling stars will dance
To their own music,
They require you not.
Remember who you are,
Remember whose,
And let go and lie down.

For this you know,
You know this certainty:
You sleep and wake in safety.
Day and night
Are written in the fabric of the world,
And in their rhythm teach a greater thing.
For death will come
A falling into dark,
To fall through to a morning bright and fair,
To fall through to the Love that always holds,
And holds forever.

Rest, and be content.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

To the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

What do you think as you stand there,
Under the deep blue sky and the hammered heat,
Moving with machine precision
Giving honour to the dead?

What do you feel, standing there
Under the gaze of strangers
Whose motives you cannot guess?
Eyes straight! Stay focused!

What do you know, as you stand there
Of the pain of your traditions,
The doubts that pursue the dying,
Questioning your cause?
What have you suffered?
What made you?
Do you know the grace that holds you,
Promising a glory
That no war ever brought?

Where do you go when you stand there
Before the unnamed dead;
And, just beyond you,
The stretching fields of tombstones,
Where the dead
Have nothing left but names?
Do you wonder
What name, what lasting heritage,
Is yours?

When a man keeps company with death
What does he return to tell the living?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sheila's Cardamom Bread (for Communion)


Blessed be the hands that made the bread,
That gather, mix and knead. 
Blessed be the hands that bore the nails
To meet our deepest need.

Blessed be the one who adds the spice
And subtle sweetness gives.
Blessed be the one who took on death
So that his body lives.

Blessed be the faith that baked this bread
And gave it back to God.
Blessed be the faith that went through hell
To claim us by his blood.

Blessed be the hands that baked the loaf
Through which our souls are fed.
Blessed be the hands that took the cross
To be our living bread.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dream Train

Dream train

Oh the train is sweetly rolling and there's twilight in the air
And the new ploughed fields wear little shoots of green
And there's water by the wayside and the clouds are turning pink
And restfulness embraces everywhere.

And the nights are softly dreaming to the rhythm of the rails
To the soporific music of their song
And the passengers are bound into a night they cannot see
As darkness starts to gather all around.

There's a soft sort of contentment when there's nothing to be done
Save to rest upon the turning of the wheels
And remembering and forgetting seem an effort far too strong
For this dreaming place at rest between the worlds.




Thursday, May 25, 2017

Windy city

Windy City

And the lake it sings its own song mid the sparkle and the shade
And the rain and bitter wind notes come and go
And the music that they're making is a tune that I can hear.
Windy City.

There's a melody of seasons, there's a painted change of light
There's a rustling of squirrels in the trees
And clouds are wrapped like scarves around the shoulders of the towers.
Windy City.

And the waters are a mirror to the twists of history
And the lake has gathered in a million tears
And the groans of pains uncounted lend their bass notes to the breeze.
Windy City.

And there's striving and there's growing and there's struggle and there's loss
And the turning pages may be dark or bright
And there's mystery and longing and the strange smell of success
Windy City.

For they came, they came, the dreamers and the hopeful and the lost
Sheep and wolves like every place that man has trod,
And the fire is burning ever and the guns blaze in men's hearts.
Windy City.

But the waters still sing gently and the works of man still stand
And the promises are certain as the day
There's a welcome word of kindness and a wonder takes your breath
Windy City.