Palm Branches (For John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia)

Let this be said of the one who died,
The bishop whose body they found afloat
On a palm fibre mat and a palm branch in hand;

Let this be said: that he lived as he died,
Life given up, at the mercy of waves,
Sailing where God’s current-love took him.

Let this be said: that he died for wrong reasons,
Mistaken one day for a wolf dressed as sheep,
Or a hunter dressed up in the skin of a pastor.

Can this be said: that they saw him once dead
And knew their mistake? That, stricken with shame,
They decked out his body in this glorious raft?

This can be said: that he died as he lived,
Life given up in God’s current of mercy,
Wrapped up in palm fronds, just like his Lord.

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