Ordinary Wednesday: In Between Poems

Heaven’s chimes are slow, but sure to strike at last; Earth’s sands are slow, but surely dropping thro’: And much we have to suffer, much to do, Before the time be past. Christina Rossetti, “Heaven’s chimes are slow” One of my favourite stories is a little-known work by J.R.R. Tolkien called “Leaf By Niggle”. ItContinue reading “Ordinary Wednesday: In Between Poems”

Ordinary Wednesday: Spring Hesitation

Poets have never fully trusted spring. e.e. cummings likened it to a “perhaps hand”, hesitant and uncertain. T.S. Eliot called April “the cruellest month” (a class I taught once decided it was because he had bad hayfever). John Mark McMillan recently sang that “Spring without permission rages on again”. And Christina Rossetti had this toContinue reading “Ordinary Wednesday: Spring Hesitation”

Ordinary Wednesday: In due season

My eldest is a budding geographer. At nearly four years of age he loves reading books about the earth and its continents, its flora and fauna. We often find ourselves having quite technical discussions about the reasons why some plant or animal species are dying out, or why we have seasons. The seasons have beenContinue reading “Ordinary Wednesday: In due season”


…my road, My rugged way to heaven, please God. (Christina Rossetti, “Old and New Year Ditties”) Sometimes a harvest, sometimes fallow, sometimes Job’s cut-down tree, the year passes in a sighing nonetheless, a barely whispered “Yet”: yet this is not all, this is not how all years shall go, this is not the only movementContinue reading “Yet”

Advent 24: Incarnate

Christmas hath a darkness Brighter than the blazing noon… (Christina Rossetti, “Christmas Eve”) Minutes before the shops shut, I walked supermarket aisles with other forgetful ones, gleaning the last sheaves of festive cheer while the muzak paused to say it was time. And two millennia ago, a carpenter and his pregnant bride found themselves strappedContinue reading “Advent 24: Incarnate”

Advent 20: and earth shall melt away

…heaven cannot hold him,Nor earth sustain;Heaven and earth shall flee awayWhen he comes to reign…(Christina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Midwinter”) While fires burned, I retreatedto safer, internal climes, denying heat.Discomfort seemed unreasonable,inconvenient that we should be so troubled.Yet world rarely does as it’s told,pointing a finger at us as we point back at it.If worldContinue reading “Advent 20: and earth shall melt away”

Advent 18: Longing

How long shall I long in vain? (Christina Rossetti, “Of Him That Was Ready to Perish”) And so we are not ready, too full of dross and dust, too much in need of refining fire to enter a purity our kind spoilt long ago. Nor is it ready for us, nor is the day ripe,Continue reading “Advent 18: Longing”

Advent 12: You are in the wilderness

For Thou art in the wildernessDrawing and leading Thine Own love…(Christina Rossetti, “The Chiefest Among Ten Thousand”) The barren land will bear fruitbut now, in this waiting time, I must gowhere barrenness still lingersto meet with You who chose thisof all the compass points in creation,of every nook of the ever-expanding universe –chose this place,Continue reading “Advent 12: You are in the wilderness”

Advent 9: No despair

…we are almost ready to fall in love with our own desolation. (Christina Rossetti, Seek and Find) Whether height of summer or bleak midwinter, there’s death: in bare-branched trees or brittle grass. Fire or frost, the end’s the same, both killers and destroyers alike. And the greatest foe of all’s despair, the sickness blighting notContinue reading “Advent 9: No despair”

Epiphany: Heartshine

“What can I give him, Poor as I am?” Christina Rossetti Today is one of the most important days in the old church calendar, but also one of the most widely forgotten: the feast of Epiphany. Today we remember the wise men visiting Jesus, but we also remember what this represents, that the Gospel hasContinue reading “Epiphany: Heartshine”