Wednesday, 29 June 2011

a wing and a prayer

A surprise
Graced by the presence, magnificent,
of two bald eagles
Strength and beauty circling each other
in playful dignity over the river

Oh, for such a wingspan to take in the world, to embrace the globe's rippling breath, to see the straightest line between two points and yet take the scenic route

They call to each other, to me
Come up here
And I want to fly away

Deeper into this earthbound spirit-ache and then perhaps out the other side

Saturday, 25 June 2011

level ground

Isaiah 40:3-5

You fill the valley of the lowly, shaping firm steps upward, raising the downcast up to where they can see the sun again. You are a swollen river, rushing, flooding, filling us with faith till we walk on water, walk on up this liquid escalator of joy.

You demolish the mountain of the proud, shaking the steps of the haughty till self-sufficiency crumbles in the quake. You are a sweeping torrent, rushing, a rapid wave that sweeps us over the falls and down to the exalted plain of humility.

Where the horizons meet, we see each other face to face, and there meet Grace. We are all on level ground.


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Pilgrim Song (Psalm 121)

I look up into the crags as the storm approaches,
fearful of the slippery steps, aching feet weary already.
Will you help me over them?
Your ways are high, too high for us . . .

Yet as the wind blows fierce in my face,
I am reminded that you made the wind and the crags,
you made these feet.

If it all seems too much, I know you will build a strength in me I have never known.
The steeper the crag, the stronger my foot will be.

You, my Strength, are my Keeper
You will keep me on your path
Sheltering me from the driving rain
Creating moments of refuge beneath your wings

Your breath is at my back, and it is stronger than the gale.

And when I am weary and worn, I will sing
For your joy is my strength and your strength is my song

Your presence is a Pilgrim with me.


Friday, 10 June 2011


A grown man cries on the evening radio, reliving 9 year old horrors, and I want to turn it off, turn to a country station, anything. I am not used to this kind of emotion, springing from this kind of description. There is too much evil in the world, I think, scrubbing a pot fiercely in the kitchen sink. How we excel at breaking each other, building a junk pile of lives smashed to pieces so we can climb on top and play king of the hill.

I am grateful, so grateful, for my own safety, for the peace of my family, the security of our home. But the contrast is stark. How many mothers and children will die before they can ever wash the supper dishes without fear?

I stare across what seems a great divide. Do they resent me? Envy me? Pity me? I look into their eyes, willing my heart to leave a place open for them, even though all that rushes in may be a sense of helplessness. I will mourn with those who mourn, and leave the radio on.


Tuesday, 7 June 2011


God is motion

He is the heart that ever beats, the dance of three-in-one
The breath that creates, renews, recreates within his lungs
The mouth that forms the word that flings the light

He is the will that moves to send the Spirit to overshadow to put on flesh and blood

He is life laying down, over and over
Love lifted up on a cross
And in that eternal moment all things hold together

He is the hand that reaches out and draws us up through the wound in his side
Up through his veins and into the life of God
Into the circulation of Spirit, Son, Father

And in him we live and move and have our being


Monday, 6 June 2011

a word from the wild

There’s a wildness in God’s mercy
He is a fire, a storm, a flood
the roaring rapids that tear at your spirit
making your heart ache to be swept away
by thoughts higher, too high
by love deeper, too deep
by a current swifter than your stagnation
and stinking pools of complacency
He is the Spirit

Be of courage, quivering heart
Don’t fight the river,
clinging to slippery rocks of false security
In the centre of the whirlpool
you will find the peace you crave


Thursday, 2 June 2011

planting beauty

It’s not the way I usually would have done it

The apple tree sat waiting
In its plastic pot
Roots circling round and round
Without any room to breathe

I wanted ideal ground
But our “back 40” was less than so
Ground ridged by rocks and weeds
A pile of twisted rusty metal
neglected museum of days gone by
A heap of brush sprawled and sticky
like a shock of unkempt giant’s hair
A collection of broken glass, old medicine bottles
and the evidence of beer drunk in secret
A jumble of dirty plastic, torn and tattered
but never decomposing

I wanted to clear away all the ugliness first
Prepare a perfect environment for our darling sapling
A smooth lawn, a clear view, a clean start
But that was more than a few weeks’ worth of work away

I was almost loathe to do it
Behind the brush heap I pulled up weeds and grass
Collected more fragments of the last few decades
We dug a hole in the middle of it all
Sharp spade cutting into red clay
Filled it with rich, dark dirt harvested from the sea
And there
Surrounded by the brackish heaps
of our pioneer work in progress
We planted beauty

And there it blossoms even now
Unfurling roots and leaves, deep and high
Peeking over the giant’s mop top
Waving to the kitchen window
Happy only to be given a place

Yes, I will give up my stifling idealism
And give beauty a place to grow

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