A devout gardener, my eldest comes out here
each day, to inspect, to water.
Sometimes he waters the concrete, sometimes
the soil. Most of it
is sapped up by unseasonal sun,
some soaks in. Butas we persist, he and I, we see
this transformation, like
a renewing mind: creeper grass
green tendrils into a former wastelandand I am mindful to watch
the miracle of creeping grace
expanding where it is not seen.
Only when we are going somewhere does he dawdle,
suddenly eager to investigate every fencepost,
every garden paver.
When we’ve all the world’s time, he hurries,
as though life might catch him before he is done,
as one learns to do when small
and only grown-ups can open doors for you,
where moments must be seized
before a “No, Eli!” takes them away.
But when on a journey, each surface and texture needs study,
each streetlight’s a marvel,
and each fence might contain a “Woof Woof” to call friend.
No hurry then, no trajectory,
only the entranced study
of a miniature scientist at his craft.
And so I, clock always in mind, must submit
to this other time. The urge to say,
“Come on, Eli,” must be tempered
by the truth
that his toddler-speed shows me:
that all this is wonder, and world enough
are in our Father’s hands who holds
our fingertips and says, “Come on,”
not for haste
but so we may take it all in.
Slowing down, I take more in.
So the word of God became a human being and lived among us.
(John 1:14 – J.B. Phillips Translation)
By any standard it would be
extraordinary to find
the infinite, immortal constrained in time
but to find Divinity where it knew full well
the hearts of man
and how they turned, mostly away –
to find the all-sufficient taking on
this meagre flesh, this weakness,
this all-too-human messiness –
no word, no response suits besides
a quaint yet apt, “Behold!”,
a marvelled, “Come and see”,
and footsteps following where he treads,
to see where God makes a home.
At the beginning God expressed himself.
(John 1:1 – J.B. Phillips Translation)
The urge to speak, to connect:
is it heresy to find this in the Immortal,
the all-sufficient? Having
no need of us, and yet
He speaks –
is Word. And we,
the subjects of His sentences,
are warmed by the light of His present tense,
this way, and that,
choosing darkness and silence
yet crying out to the night to hear us.
Hear us. Here with us,
in word, in deed,
in breaking bread.
No need to touch the scars;
Caravaggio got that detail wrong.
The sheer force of His presence made Thomas crumple,
doubt ceasing where belief gained life,
the parched taste, hesitant like salt, exultant like wine,
as loosened lips croaked,
My Lord and my God.
Yet I am comforted to see
both the outstretched hand and
the companions’ fingers lifting his.
I cannot tell if, like Thomas,
I could simply stop doubting and believe at such a sight,
but, held up by the weathered,
briny hands of those who’ve seen with me,
I, like him, can lift a wrinkled brow in faith.
where, on the shore, He had
already assembled, as a table,
prepared for expected guests,
a charcoal fire, some fish laid out,
and, being himself the bread,
a loaf laid for good measure.
No need, of course, for the fish they brought.
No need, either, for that excess in their boats.
To feed seven mouths plus His,
that net-bursting horn of plenty was,
as old Judas, wilting, would have had them know,
not quite au fait.
Yet fitting – that He who made Leviathan solely to frolic
should choose to play with the resources of Galilee
to make much of these staples,
to invite, to delight,
and in the olive branch of this table set
in the presence of friends and enemies
to ask, as the mercy-cup overflowed in the background,
Simon, do you love me?
Nothing should compare to this:
our singularity that, with earthquake force,
shakes stones, baffles Rome, turns
the mourners from the tomb with lightning conviction.
And day on day this truth remains,
though I have dishes to wash
and the ever-turning of the present
makes me more a sullen Peter returning to his net
than a Mary, fleeing the dead, for dear life –
yes, for Life
had said her name and was here.