Day Zero

On this day
I still wrestled my children
into their clothes,
still raced out the door
too late for comfort,
still pricked my finger with a rose thorn,

still feared that all my labour's in vain,
and found the evening slump
a little close to despair

yet
everything changed, while nothing changed
and mustard seeds of life were at work
whether we noticed
or not.

Unbound

My twins' favourite game
is to grab a Bible each and run
delighted round the room shouting,
"Bible! Bible!" as though
treasure has been found.
Their Bibles are ragged and worn from rough handling;
binding broken, the Word opens up,
unbound, into the mess of life.

Compline: After Christian Wiman

Man is what he is and he is everything that he is in the decision of faith

Karl Barth
And faith, or belief, is more
direction than assent
to a thought or a fact; it is
movement towards
the thing from which others turn,
and from which you may have turned,
will have turned,
for hole-hearted love is never whole-hearted,

and yet
you correct, in daily
micromovements, to turn
back, again, again, and dwell -
for faith also is dwelling,
an end-of-day settling,
body and soul, weary and fighting,
ending your fighting,
and drooping, falling
into infinite arms.

Vespers: After Louise Glück

Once I believed in You,
still do,
though belief is often evasive, often abstract,
like air, which itself defies grasp
yet needy lungs clutch at it with the certainty
that this, this alone they must have.

And I believe like
the fig tree believes in the soil,
sometimes wilted, sometimes refusing fruit,
always held, always known to the roots.

And at the vesper light, I
believe, not with
the confident certainty of the apologist in debate,
the smug politician turning
divine name to unholy cause,
but like
the bed beneath me believes in the ground,
believes in the frame that holds it.

Ubi Caritas: For World Mental Health Day

What happens, he wonders,
shattered by the mess, by the day,
by the constancy of demands,
by the ever-present lesson of patience,
by the daily failure to learn this patience -

What happens, he asks, when my love is broken?

Nothing happens. The day goes on,
all is reset as night arrives;
all but the weight that pulls at his shoulders,
that sags like his soul has a leak in its middle.
Nothing happens;
night is as long and restless as the one before,
and morning will come with its worries anew.

But this still happens. The glory happens,
though it does not shout or cry.
Day on day, God dwells in this mystery:
that love can wake up
tomorrow
and do
what love has done today.

Acedia

“… how we perform these often dispiriting duties, from the changing of a baby’s diaper to the bathing of an aged parent, reveals what kind of God we worship.”

Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me
Weary, yet itching for greater things,
Longing to change the world while
my own heart lies stony and stagnant,

I turn
from the trifles of significance and
grand Calls to the small,
the smallest of things, and seek

as I sweep scattered breakfast,
wipe porridge from grabby fingers,
to loose
my fingers from my own feeble Self

and mop
away the dregs of my torpid ego
and make a hole fit
for footwashing Christ
to call home.

Matins

O God,
As the sun rises, again,
a little sheepish, over
this hesitant day,
prepare the way
for my often straying feet.
May my yesterdays not repeat
except in the way Your grace has of giving
every new day for new ways of living.

Keep me. Make me new:
I have not loved
as I ought to have loved;
I have not taken the good as gift;
I have not said Yes to all from Your hand.
Whatever day holds - to sit, walk or stand -
may it be You
in every breath - You.

World without end,
and if world should end.
Father, Son, Spirit: Amen.

Chesed

To think
where darkest nights have taken this soul,
and how thin
the membrane between life
and death, how loud
the Accuser has screamed
to pierce the membrane and throw me through;

yet here
I stand, with no reason
beside You and the sheer
leap into faith that saved,
the soft
belly of love into which I fell;

so here
I stand, with my
eldest in my arms while
he reaches the clothesline,
spins like the chuckling
Father who set this orbit to go,
reaches and carries, and calls out Again!

So why not,
when held
in steadfast love; why not
watch
it spin again and shout
the dead Accuser dumb.

Into Silence

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

Mary Oliver
Startled by the beating of my own heart,
the pounding
of my thoughts in between my ears,
I have found
noise to be quieter than silence, have brokered
terms of peace armed
with a flashing screen.
Nothing frightens like
the thought that you may not be enough;
You are enough, are All.
In deep
silence I meet
the noise of fear, and greet
Your warmest, primeval whisper.

Desert Food

They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.”

2 Samuel 17:28-29
Mid-crisis, after yet another narrow escape,
the fugitive king rests, and this ordinary, abundant fare
pausing somewhere -
a plateau, perhaps where the enemy, his son,
can still be seen? Or tucked away
in the cleft of some rock, like Moses spared
from judgment's full daylit face?
There will be a time and place
for judgment, and for the essay of souls,
a time to examine heart's motives, to ponder
the chance that maybe the rebel son's It.
Yet in this middle point of crisis
there is time even for kings
to strengthen with grains, with lentils, with cheese,
to eat honey and curds in the desert breeze.