Friday, September 28, 2007

No one will write a poem for me ..

Hot off the press, from a germ of an idea. NO, no one has ever written me a love poem .... except God!
if anyone doesn't know, an epithalamion is a marriage poem

No one will write a poem for me.
My loves are prose who work with patient fingers
To weave a life from solid practicals.
They feel no need to sing my secret song.

No star-shine summons them, no unicorns
Leap from the hedge of fear to lead across
The tired old wastelands to the faerie place,
With moonlight on their trembling, piercing horn.
No strange birds sing in tongues of sheer delight
To break the heart. No honeyed apples fall
Laced with strange magic to enchant the sense.
For them no waterfall becomes a bridge
To the dear country where love sings in tune.

My heart, crack-lipped and croaking, sings alone.

Yet not alone, no wandering minstrel I,
No patch-bedraggled seeker of the stars
Limned with strange glamour to bedazzle fools.

I am beloved in another world
Where this whole earth, dulled, darkened and afraid,
Is a mere simile, similitude..
Therefore I walk in midst of metaphor
Seeking the harmony of offered words
In the One Word once spoken into time.
Therefore I know one love, dear lasting love,
Who writes love letters in the thunderstorm,
Skywrites with rainbows his desire for me
Drops notes with falling petals, laughs his rhymes
Across each new-thrust blade of rain-fresh grass.

And there is more: his epithalamion
Written to me in letters of shed blood
Delivered to me in this wine, this bread:
Here is my poem, my lover and my food.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The washerwoman

Just a picture-poem I wrote some years ago in my struggles, or is it??

The slap of water on the stones;
the blows of life against my bones.

And the long toil, each day’s drear drudgery
Labour of weariness, with no respite,
Through the winters of foul mud and the summers of too little,
when I long for the cool comfort
the caress of sweet, sweet water
To my dry throat and my barren life, and my hands forever empty.

When the rains come, they come in vain
My beds are dry with too much pain..

And nothing is ever clean, not clean enough.
The stains go down to the cloth and through my fingers
Into my heart, and no washing can ever release me.
I am a thing of filth, until my soul
Finds refuge in the water, and a bird lights on my finger,
And the old pollution sweeps away downstream.

And I shall clean a covering for my children,
And the dirt shall not pass on to another generation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Critic (via Ratatouille)

Went and watched Ratatouille with my daughter this afternoon. It was the usual dose of good Pixar fun, but one thing that was said in the movie really caught my attention. I went hunting on the net, and managed to find the proper quote:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

How often do we take on the "easy" role of being the critic of someone else's work, theology or service, rather than doing the hard yards of actually getting out there and doing what we really believe?

Monday, September 24, 2007


Something different -- a short, short story I wrote some years ago

“Where’d they come from?”
“What for?”
“A gift, I suppose.”
“What’s she want to go giving us gifts for, all of a sudden?”
“She grows them, you know.”
“That’s no reason to go giving them away.”
They sat, one either side of the table, and contemplated the bowl of apricots. It was a focal point of brightness in the dingy room. Once, forty years ago, this kitchen had been her pride and joy with its bright linoleum and its modern, practical, red and white formica table. But the floor had been dulled by the long defeat of years to the colour of tropical mud, and the battered table had acquired the same cheap air as a hundred sleazy cafes. The pot plants on the windowsill had withered (she never remembered to water them any more) and only one of the light bulbs was working (he had been meaning to change the other one for the last two weeks.) The Holland blinds were drawn against the heat of the afternoon sun, and the room smelt of tea that had been left brewing too long, and the beer glass that had not yet been washed up from his lunch. Surreptitiously, each leant a little closer to smell the rich sweetness of the fruit. It was the smell of memory.
“Jessie used to love apricots when she was little”
“Did she?”
“Oh, you remember, George. She used to raid the fruit bowl and the boys were always complaining because she hadn’t left any for their lunches.”
“I remember they were always complaining. Those ones would complain about anything.”
“Including their father?”
“Cheekiest kids around.”
“Not half as cheeky as the Travis kids.”
“They were terrors, those ones. Needed a man’s hand, of course.”
“Of course,” she answered, but he knew she was really laughing at him, and glared at her suspiciously.
“Then again,” she added, when she felt he had glared his fill, “Jessie wasn’t the only one in the family who loved apricots.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember Bellbird Ridge?”
He looked at her blankly for a moment, then his face creased into laughter. “You,” he said, “you and old Bob’s apricot tree! I remember something else too, ”and he shook his finger at her till a blush crept over her tired skin and she giggled, “I remember a girl who couldn’t sneak off to me in the night like we planned because she was so sick afterwards!”
The word girl brought it all back to him. She hadn’t been the only one who was sick, so to speak. While the other guys were playing the field and boasting of conquests which nobody could quite disprove, he had been sick with longing for Em Stevens, the girl from Sydney with her clear soft skin and copper hair. She had been the prettiest thing to come in their direction ever, and he still remembered the awe that had kept him tongue-tied with wonder on their wedding day, the awe that this marvellous person had actually chosen to marry him!
Forty years did hard things to a woman. The copper in her hair had changed to silver, and long years of work and weather had hardened her skin and spotted it with age. Her body had grown sturdy that had once been sapling-slender, and her beautiful eyes had taken refuge behind glasses years ago. Yet she was still quick to smile and always ready to laugh, and she still baked the best scones he had ever tasted. He found himself looking at her as if, after forty years of day in, day out familiarity, he was seeing her for the first time. She caught his eye as he looked her up and down, and he knew that she knew what he was thinking. For a moment he wanted to retreat to the safety of surliness, then, with a rush of feeling that surprised him, he decided he didn’t care.
She read his face with the same long-practised skill that she could demonstrate in interpreting a knitting pattern or a recipe, and was glad that her glasses hid the unexpected misting of her tears. Moved by a sudden impulse, she rose to her feet, proceeded to the window and tugged at the Holland blind. It shot up abruptly, and a stream of bright sunlight flowed into the room, cascading down upon the bowl of apricots. For a long, silent moment they contemplated the rich fullness of them - the swelling globules of orange gold sitting full, round and opulent in the shocking glory of the light. Dust motes danced up and down the sunbeam with the intricate, ceaseless grace of Jacob’s angels going up and down the ladder to heaven, and with the same sense of heavy purpose borne with wonderful lightness. It was as if God dwelt at both ends of the beam.
They shook their heads and looked at one another, each wondering how he or she came to be thinking of God at all when it wasn’t Sunday and they weren’t in church. There was something deeply uncomfortable and vaguely shocking about the notion of God Himself coming into their kitchen. It wasn’t His proper place. There was a tinge of fear in their eyes as they involuntarily sought each other, needing a human ally against this terrifying irregularity.
“It’s only sunlight,” he said, deliberately dismissive.
She was not so easily convinced. Her eyes lingered on the shaft of sun, and the dancing dust, and the apricots glowing quietly in the full splendour of the light. Her eyes softened, and she felt the welling prickle of tears. She knew he would see her crying as a weakness in her argument, but she was too moved by wonder to care. The tears could do what they liked. She thought of trees, and the mysterious way they drew life from the very stuff of earth, how the sap carried the mystery from the deep place of the roots, up though the trunk to the tips of the branches, where it burgeoned forth as fruit. She thought of the sun, nothing but a ball of burning gases, or so she had been taught, yet somehow the thing that all living and being depended on. It seemed to her then that nothing was mere or only, that just beyond their tight brick walls and their carefully pulled down blinds, the whole universe pulsed with terrible life, waiting to break in upon them the moment their defences should falter. Why should her kitchen be immune?
“It’s the glory of God,” she amazed herself by saying.
He wanted to laugh at her, to mock all such fancies as absurdity, but when he focussed his eyes on this blazing wonder in their midst, he couldn’t do it. “I am no stranger to miracles,” he thought, with a sudden surge of awe. He thought back across the long years of his marriage to his wedding night, to their first kiss (under the willows down by Jimmy’s creek), to the time when he had first taken her tentative hand in his and, after an agonising second, had felt her soft fingers trusting curl around his own. He was such a plain, ordinary guy, and all these years she had stayed by his side and given to him and kept on giving! They had never been rich, but they had always had enough for the glad things of life, the birthday cakes and children’s treats and something to share with the neighbours when times were hard. It suddenly seemed to him a crime that he had lived all these years amongst such bounty and never been thankful.
He became aware of his old gardening hat which he hadn’t bothered to remove when he came into the kitchen. Such courtesies had slipped from his life a long time ago. Now it seemed horribly out of place, and he tugged it from his head with an impatient gesture, and bowed his head. Would Em laugh?
She did not laugh, merely smiled softly to herself in wonder. She reached across the table and took his hand. Their eyes met and held across the apricots. “Yes,” he said, “the glory of God has come down to our kitchen.”
Simultaneously they reached out, picked up an apricot and each handed it to the other. A phrase from a lifetime of church going flitted across her memory and she repeated it aloud, “From His mercy have we all received.”

Love and a Green frog

Was teaching (can't exactly call it preaching -- way too informal for a "proper" sermon) in church on sunday night on parayer, and wanted to get across the idea that if something is real to our own hearts, we should pray about it, however "silly" we might think it looks in the light of eternity. Yes, in God's eyes this issue or that may be nothing but a phantasm born of our confusion, but if it has power to affect us, then He is concerned because He cares about us. That's just what a loving parent does. I thought of an incident which, for me, illustrated exactly what i meant.

When my son was about 3 he woke up one night, in the coldest part of the wee small hours, totally convinced there was a green frog in his bed! (I have no idea where that notion came from) Now, before I even walked into the room, I knew 100% certainly that there was no frog there. my child was not in any danger of any kind. BUT, he believed he was! (Yeah, some scary frog!!) So, of course, just as you would, i got up in the cold and unmade all his bed (and then remade it) just to prove there was no frog there. Then my little boy felt safe, and was able to lie down and go back to sleep in confidence. it was worth the trouble to me, not because the frog was worth the effort, but because my child was.

That's how it is with our heavenly Father too.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wisdom after my hiatus

Ok, perhaps a mis;leading title, but all shall be made clear (I hope!)

Firstly, the hiatus. No particular dramatic reason for the break in blogging, I just needed a break. Sometimes you just run dry for a while, and it's good to step back from a particular activity and live life (which is a full time effort in itself) until one feels replenished. Today I do, so I'm back!

second, wisdom. Not mine (only the hiatus, which is beginning to sound like some exotic pet is mine), but apocryphal wisdom. Literally. from Ecclesiasticus, in the Apocrypha. I am not very familiar with the Apocrypha (something I must remedy) but I came across this quote from chapter 4, which really struck me personally. How often have I been led to believe that "being a doormat to a fool" was the path of virtue, even holiness?

20 WATCH YOUR CHANCE and defend yourself against wrong, and do not be over- modest in your own cause; 21 for there is a modesty that leads to sin, as well as a modesty that brings honour and favour. 22 Do not be untrue to yourself in deference to another, or so diffident that you fail in your duty. 24 Never remain silent when a word might put things right, for wisdom shows itself by speech, and a man's education must find expression in words. 25 Do not argue against the truth, but have a proper sense of your own ignorance. 26 Never be ashamed to admit your mistakes, nor try to swim against the current. 27 Do not let yourself be a doormat to a fool or curry favour with the powerful. 28 Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight on your side.