The Swelling Year 2019

swellingyearDear friends,

If you have been hanging around The Consolations of Writing for a while, you might have noticed that I love using the church’s liturgical year as inspiration for my writing.

Well, this interest has been going for some years now – six, in fact – and I’ve decided to put together the best of my poems as a new book, “The Swelling Year: Poems for Holy and Ordinary Days”.

You’ll hear more about it over the next year, at this site, on the Facebook page and at the newly launched website for the book project. Check it out if you haven’t already at theswellingyear.com.

God bless,
Matt.

Poema

You create and give; I take and arrange
words like atoms, rhythms like pulses
and the matter of your cosmos like
the setting of a table:
an act of grace here, a wilderness feast.

You create and I, created, imitate.
More, I steward
the tones you have embedded in our movements, our speech.
I listen and echo
the hidden poundings of the muted heart,
to say
as a host at table might –
Here, a space is left for you.
And then I point,
first to you who, poised at the vast edge of nothing,
said, Let there be.
And then, second, to the open arms,
the nails, the wood,
the carpenter carved up to make
a home for us.

Pass Through the Waters

Pilgrims, we return again to Jordan
where the old familiar waters flow;
As always we face the choice to enter,
awash in what we do not know.

Familiar the doubt, uncertain the prospect:
the promise declares like a quaking in sky,
yet how it transpires, our toes must encounter
and nothing ensures that our feet will stay dry,

only a dove and the voice of a father
and his story the same – ever ever.

Epiphany: Unexpected Myrrh

all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
(Isaiah 60:6b)

The promise shines bright,
but not all have eyes to see.
Many search elsewhere, dismissive of their quest
for nothing great comes from Palestine.
Preferring the grandeur of temple and palace courts,
they snub noses at a people on their knees
and follow other stars for other fates.

Yet to those who’ve been waiting,
those willing to hoist saddle and trudge desert sands,
the movement of stars matches movements in hearts
and the star points to what they are seeking.
Only this is unexpected: not only
do they bring the ointment of kings
and the gold that’s surely fit for him
but a resin that embalms when bodies expire,
a sign that the child-king lives here to die.
Knees bow before this acceptance of fate
while proud knees are buckled at the truth.
Only when it humbles will it save.

Christmas 12: Seen (Nathanael’s Story)

through the birth of Immanuel…
(From the Collect of the Day)

He saw me by the fig-tree,
desiring yet resisting,
drawn to know the truth of things
yet not looking for it there.

He heard dismissal from my lips,
saw straight into the heart of things,
called to life the truth in me;
I cannot walk away.

That God Himself should take our scum,
that He should walk right here and see –
nothing else but this remains:
I must follow in His way.

Christmas 11: Becoming

and draw us into your holy life…
(From the Collect of the Day)

At once desiring and resisting:
holiness is an arrival, a fulfilment,
and a flame that sears.
Immanuel comes like a floodlight
and I, at times, prefer to hide.
Yet this is our why; life
occurs for precisely this:
union, the family at the heart of things,
becoming as we were first purposed.

Christmas 10: Sons

gather the nations to be one family…
(From the Collect of the Day)

But we know travail,
know separation,
are well-acquainted with the feeling,
on waking,
that something or someone or somewhere is missing, or wishing,
or losing, is lost.

And we know the gap
between ourselves;
we call the vacuum by first name.
We know division enough to feel
the shock of being brought into a whole.
We know the weight, the wait, delight
to be called sons of God…