everything is still

closed tomb

Today
Holy Saturday
Everything is still
Everything is lost
Everything we reasoned to be true
Shattered
Demolished
Wracked up on that cross
Yesterday …

Yesterday …
Even as he cried out
Right at the end
We hoped
Hoped that he was the one
Hoped for that assurance
Hoped for that miracle

But today
All hope evaporated
All dreams mutilated
For today
It
is
finished
Over
Everything has gone
Everything is still.

The Mirror .. a Good Friday poem

OL_Crucifixion

I saw this today from Mark Greene on the LICC website … awesome …

The Mirror

Three ‘t’s on the scrubby hill, neatly crossed the Roman way,
The naked ‘i’s, skewered like worms, dotted burgundy with blood,
As clear to the passing eye as three billboards by a roadside:
Death to the thief. Death to the rebel. Death to the author of life,
Not even important enough to murder on his own, he,
Just one in three, the uprooted vine stretched out on a barren tree:

The anointed poured out, the gift scorned
The able disabled, the healer torn,
The way barred, the truth buried,
The life killed, the door bouldered,
The King mocked, the reconciler, reviled,
Grace, beauty, glory in spited spittle defiled,
The light snuffed out… Darkness at noon,
The world dancing to its self-enthroning tune,
The shepherd like a lamb to such slaughter.
The teacher taught his final lesson. In torture.

I know, I know on this Good Friday, that Sunday is but a blink away.
But this Friday is each and every year our ‘why’ day.
I look up from the water eddying out of the bathroom sink,
And see the billboard on the wall in front of me:
Whose rebellion required such grim reparations?
For whom would love submit to such savage butchery?
And the face on the billboard mouths slowly back, “Me”.

Mark Greene
Lent, 2018

The door

The Door – a poem by Miroslav Holub from Ricardo Serrano on Vimeo.

During the last year of toughness and door pushing, alongside words from the gospels and good friends encouragements …. I have returned to this poem a few times which I know I have written about before.

This has become one of my favourite poems and ‘accidentally’ finding this beautifully read version on Vimeo has been a great discovery!

Holub urges us to open the door, because when we open doors we never what we will find on the other side …. and at the very least …. there will be a refreshing breeze.

Go listen …. I love this poem which I first discovered in Staying Alive … worth lots of reading
I love it’s simplicity which, is paradoxically, quite complex!
(I can talk shit too!)

The words ….

Go and open the door.
Perhaps outside there is
a tree or a forest
or a garden
or an enchanted city.
Go and open the door.
If there was only
the ticking darkness
if there was only
the empty wind
or if there was
absolutely
nothing,
go and open the door.

Go and open the door.
Perhaps a dog is scraping there.
Perhaps a face is there,
or an eye,
or the image
of an image.
Go and open the door.
If there is mist there
it will clear away.

At least
there’ll be

a draught.

 

Go on … open the door!
Maybe together …. ?

 

Guest lists and Pilgrims

At 18:01 this evening we thought about what hospitality is and how we practice that in a  21st century London setting (podcast here11111). I kind of felt that Jesus was suggesting that the guest list is far more important than any menu. During our discussion we wondered if the reading for tonight (Luke 14:7-14) was wider than hospitality and encompassed more of ensuring that people felt accepted and valued in a way that showed that we saw and acknowledged their value. The discussion was a good one and I think we went away inspired to make a bot of a difference in our immediate spheres of influence.

Tonight was even ore special, though, as we prayed for Barbara who temporarily leaves us for three months as she fulfils a lifelong ambition and does a bit of a world travel, visiting 10 countries and only staying in one place for around three days.

You can keep up to date with Barbara’s experiences by visiting her blog here. I’m really looking forward to reading something of her experiences.

As part of our service tonight we gathered around Barbara and prayed a blessing. we used and adapted ‘For the Traveller’ by John O’Donohue which I found in A Book of Blessings – well worth purchasing!

To send Barbara off we used these word tonight:

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

 

Go well Barbara, we look forward to welcoming you back in December!

returning from silence

DSC_1189aI have been back from retreat for a little while.
It can be difficult coming back from a silent haven in the centre of London to the real life of the 21st Century.It felt almost like silence was the norm … and that the world was odd ….

Anyway …. I will write more about the experience over the next few days ….. first I am sharing a poem I wrote while in the silence …

returning from silence

silence
my friend
my refuge
my radiance
a smudged looking glass
still pure enough to unfold
a …. or is that … the … reality
that ordinarily
is too painful to face
in the back yard
of my ordinary day

choosing to hide
so i may be found
ceasing to talk
so I may be heard
tearing at fibrous shielded wounds
so I may be healed
closure

in the silence

the silence of this place
marinaded
in the well seasoned utterances
of ordinary everyday saints
seems to understand
to chime
with the masked identity
of the essence of my being

a knowledges that embraces
welcomes almost
an unshockable urgency
for me to be here
to freeze from running
and face who I may be
uncovering the past aches
that could reveal
                 …………… anything

I present
I kneel
open yet wary
to bare
what needs to be bared
and accept
the discovery

this silence
my silence
the silence
will hold me today
so i may rest
i may tentatively  hope
i may nervously dream

in
my light
my space
my ally

in silence

It’s terrifying … it’s beautiful

vulnerable spiderWhile continuing my reading and research around vulnerability I came across this poem by Hannah Bauer. It’s pretty much gritty and real and sums up sum of what I have experienced and some of what I would have like to say … I particularly love the way Hannah has captured the two extremes of beauty and terror which seem to be at the root of vulnerability.

I hate being vulnerable.
It’s terrifying.
Letting go of those emotions
that you work so hard to hide.
Every day, at some point,
I have to force down negative
emotions at the thought that someone
might see and know that I am not
the strong person I show myself
to be. That I am weak and that
I am struggling.
I hate being vulnerable.
It entails opening up to someone
and telling them all those dirty
little secrets that you desperately
seek to hide.
Being raw with someone.
But at the same time,
it sounds beautiful.
To be able to find someone
who you can be vulnerable with.
That trust.
That raw, unadulterated trust.
How can you know
when you have found the right person?
Can you know?
It’s terrifyingly beautiful.
I crave it.
I fear it.
Whatever I share could
be used against me.
They could laugh in my face and
mock my pain.
They could kick my dreams
in the dust or
never
speak
to
me
again.
I could be rejected.
But, I could be accepted.
I could be loved.
Respected.
Understood.
It’s terrifying.
It’s beautiful.

grand salm poetry champ

I caught up with this via Jonny’s blog (he’s rightly having a proud dad moment) …. if you’ve not heard Harry’s poetry before… be prepared to be amazed!

unholy three

pierced_trinity-_patrick_colhounloads of things have been happening over last few weeks and I have lots of blog posts written in my head which need to find their way via my keyboard to this space …. but time and inclination to write is limited … but

well …. I’ve only come here today really to signpost to the blog of my good, great and amazing friend Andrea. She has blogged here today an amazing poem. Go read!

That is all!

He will come

DSC_1061One of the dangers of thinking deeply into the significance of Advent is that in our dreaming we are at risk of losing sight of what all the waiting and expectation of Advent is about.

The bottom line is that he will come. Christ will return. As Christ was born into his creation, he will come back to that creation and walk this earth again. He will come back to the real earth, the real earth of both beauty and filth.

Archbishop Rowan’s poem, Advent Calendar, points us to this in the simply, deep and beautiful way that only Archbishop Rowan can. I love this poem and share just the first verse.

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

read the whole poem here.

change overload?

there has been a lot of change this month …

the change of leaving the city of Rochester to work in Gillingham
the change to working predominantly alone again rather than being based in a team
the change of moving from a place where I know lots of people to a place where I don’t
the change from being on a staff team of a cathedral to a role of supporting parish clergy
the change of no longer having Tom around who we dropped at Uni last week
the change of Sarah having a new job, and missing the classroom
the change of seeing Gillingham at the top of the division

change has a massive effect
there is not just the actual change itself
but the emotional stuff connected with the change
the normal everyday acclimatised stuff you do not normally notice
but become painfully aware of when it is ripped away
and is no longer an everyday occurrence
causes change, I think, to be quite draining
emotionally exhausting
mind numbing

I am not sure if you can have too much change … well, that’s not true …  I am sure … because 3 weeks in to this new role  I feel drained because, I think, I have been overloaded with change. Change has been their everywhere I turn. At the moment nothing seems constant.

As a pioneer I think I am supposed to say that change is my friend, and that I crave encounters with her spirit. I really do believe that she is my friend and do crave that change in my community. I am also being reminded, however, what a demanding friend she can be. She seems to be ever demanding, constantly there, always calling, challenging, cajoling.

Over these last few weeks sometimes I have felt that I am just clinging on … and on occasions I have found the Psalms to be a great source of strength. Particularly, amongst many, Psalm 121:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – 
From whence comes my help? 
My help comes from the LORD, 
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved; 
He who keeps you will not slumber. 
Behold, He who keeps Israel 
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; 
The LORD is your shade f at your right hand. 
The sun shall not strike you by day, 
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; 
He shall preserve your soul.  
The LORD shall  preserve your going out and your coming in 
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

That Psalm has been a great provider of strength when I have felt myself becoming over-awed by, or fearful of, the size of the task before me. There have been other times, however, when I have found myself having the conversation with myself that says something like … ‘just stay in today, it won’t make a difference, it won’t really matter ….’

On days like this I have returned to one of my favourite poems which I believe to be truly God inspired through Miroslav Holub which I have blogged about here before if you want to read the poem fully. For this point in time however, it is the following final words through which I have found not strength as with the Psalm, but motivation to get up …

Go and open the door.
    Even if there’s only
    the darkness ticking,
    even if there’s only
    the hollow wind,
    even if
              nothing
                          is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught. 

That inspires me. It inspires me because it reminds me of something pretty cool when involved with mission with God. It reminds me that I merely need to turn up, open and genuine and simply be willing and available for whatever God had for that day.

Not a lot has happend over the last few weeks. But I believe two things: my help is from God, and whatever happens, at least I am causing a draught!