For this demon who harms men and corrupts them is particularly anxious that his servants not gaze up to heaven but instead that they be bent over to the earth and make bricks inside themselves from clay.
(Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses)
At the moment of exhaling, he sanctified
the clay he shaped by his outbreathing, yet
sacred clay was only ever for shaping, not
to be shaped by. Instead
my eyes are always turned groundward and I
play in the mud pies of my mind despite
the heavenly witness that clamours for me with its voiceless speech
and, for lack
of willing human witnesses, rocks
clear stony throats to shout.
“Not too many poets has it been given…to live one of their own poems.” (G.K. Chesterton, St Francis of Assisi)
If I would be Francis, troubadour to God, before I can sing Creation’s canticles, I must tend to the sleeping children in my room and die again, again to the self that craves to be higher than them. Only then can poetry shine, until then being only words.
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?
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,
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.
And so it starts over: our spinning way Around the sun; our cycle of light, dark, Hot, cold; plants losing, gaining leaves and bark. If we hear what the seasons have to say, It will be only their incessant bay, Their insistant reminders – at the park Or down the street – to heed the spark Of summer light, and the dying winter day. If dull the repetition, or senseless The way we never move on or remain, I will take a toddler’s view and address The new day with the delight its maker Feels when he sets the sun’s circuit to recur, That this – all this – can happen again, again!
entwined with the gull’s wing
in pink seastring
among polished shellflakes
where the dog inspects the ocean’s rip
and the children tag along.
beside you with the waves’ murmur
as ever-renewing current speaks
of voices long ago which said, Here shall you go; no further.
And it hums
in the morning wind which blows
like tumbleweed over
the criss cross of the sand.
What did you expect when you came to see
The baby, all wrapped in swaddling bands?
A king, mighty, radiant in glory?
A beaming cherubim, good will in his hands?
Did you come to bow or to learn or be
Affirmed by all that you saw? Herod bore
No risks; and the heavens were certain that He
Was exactly the one wise men had looked for.
This only shows half of the truth. Alpha,
Omega, the Word in His world, the Light
At the core of all being; the Morning Star
Who speaks, and it is; the Father’s delight…
What child is this, you ask? I will tell you:
The one the teeming universe calls to.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
Though He is lowly, they recognise Him, For He commanded and they were made.
As they burn, they can still hear the hymn
He sung to create them at the Father’s side.
One is elected to proclaim, yet choirs
Sing to herald Him, silently glistening.
The night is coming; if mankind enquires,
What child is this? the host will be listening,
Ready to answer with all heaven’s angels:
Gloria! Gloria! Yet where are they now?
The kings to bow down, the dancers and timbrels?
Herod searches, yet breathes a fuming vow.
But if people ignore Him, rocks will cry out;
Now heavenly fires sparkle and shout…
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
First birdsong and flight; new heavens groaning;
These things we cannot see. They precede
Sight, consciousness. All we know, he exceeds:
The Face behind the flame and the foaming.
Nothing made without Him: He moves across
Astronomy and microscope, photon
And planet, from star-studded sky to cross.
Is all this beyond us? Yet He is known;
Takes first steps, like Adam; like Adam, bleeds;
Descends to the stable, ascends the Tree;
Comes to His creation; it knows Him not,
Despised, rejected, a thing forgot.
No fanfare: behold the silent babe
In whom all things were made that were made.