Pregnant with its own hopeful future,
Bursting with change and the newness of experience…
The year stands,
A heaving monument to grace.“The Swelling Year”, 2019
I would not have written those words this year. I almost cannot imagine the world in which I did write them. Though I first wrote them in 2012, they seemed an apt way to describe the year that lay ahead – 2020 – when I released The Swelling Year this time last year. But have the words proven false, now that we know how 2020 has turned out? I don’t believe so. Though I would use different language to describe the longing for, and prospect of, grace to come in the COVID world, God’s goodness and providence are no less real now than they were 12 months ago. Each year stands as a living, breathing monument to grace. We may not yet know the ways that grace will have proven to have been at work in 2020, but we have glimpses. And so I will rejoice, sometimes feebly, sometimes confidently, in the truth of those glimpses.
The Swelling Year (1st Anniversary Edition) is available from Lulu.com now.
Today the church remembers St Francis of Assisi, so here is a sneak peek at a new poem I wrote based on his life and ethos for The Swelling Year.
Instruments (For Francis of Assisi)
All our instruments tend to dischord.
We turn away from harmony
in search of our own tunes.
Brother Jesus, in leper’s dress, welcomes us.
We leave Him with His bell and seek
better jewels and robes.
The channels of our hearts are noise.
Only little buds whisper the wonder
that God came as child.
Christ who died for life’s sake: teach
my miser-heart to be a pauper for love,
breathing into death.
Well, after seven years of writing and an intense few months of preparation, my book The Swelling Year: Poems for Holy and Ordinary Days is finally available for purchase. I was very excited this week to discover that, as well as being available directly from lulu.com, it can also be ordered at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even from the Danish store Saxo.com. You can also preview it at Google Books if you want to see what it’s all about. I’m looking at ways of getting it into physical bookstores in Australia too, and I’ll update local readers on this when it happens.
Also, if you happen to be in Melbourne in November, drop by Christ Church Anglican in Brunswick at 2pm on 30 November for the official book launch. There’ll be readings by me, book signings, and live music from some of my very talented friends. I hope to see you there!
Meanwhile, once you’ve read The Swelling Year and want to tell others what you think, perhaps you could take a couple of minutes to review it at your online store of choice.
Today is Pentecost Sunday and a chance to revisit the poem I wrote for this day many years ago. I’m sharing a snippet here as a preview of what you can expect from the upcoming book.
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.
Well, today is Ascension Day and so this marks the very last poem for my Swelling Year project. When I first set myself the task of writing a poem for every day of the liturgical calendar, it seemed to both me and to others to be biting off substantially more than I could chew. Well, a little over a year later and the project is finished – and what better way to finish than with Jesus ascending to heaven.
I wonder did they see the clouds
Gather round You as You soared,
Envelop You in vapour-praise
As You rose slowly home?
And did they marvel when they saw
Gravity that day defied
Or did it just confirm for them
What they already knew?
For He, their minds might have reasoned,
Who raised the dead and was once dead –
He who made the bread stretch far
And was Himself the Bread –
Could gather clouds as witnesses
And make the air raise hands,
Could rise as though He made the sky
And was its risen King.