20 Contemplations #12: Alpha, Omega

Filomena Booth, “In the Beginning the Word”, http://www.dailypainters.com

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.

20 Contemplations #8: The Heights

Marc Chagall, Detail from "Starry Night", stained glass

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
(Psalm 148:3)

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…

20 Contemplations #6: At Creation

Anselm Kiefer, “Heaven on Earth (Himmel auf Erden)”

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(John 1:3)

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.


20 Contemplations #5: Rhythm of the Three

Albrecht Dürer – The Trinity

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
(John 1:18)

“I and the Father are one.” Such mystery
Finds no answer in biology. Why
Not “I and my mother”? One for a time,
Yet divided at birth, distinct in history.
No, “I and the Father”: one in memory,
In substance and rhythm. Defying rhyme,
They split. The Son descends; the downward climb
Disrupts, unites. The Son descends to me…

A backward glance? What has He left behind?
Yet what is set before Him too: a feast,
Many sons and daughters brought to light.
One being, rent asunder; perfect mind
Never faults in purpose, west to east;
The Three-in-One, creation’s heart delight.

20 Contemplations #3: Downward Flight

Wassily Kandinsky - Improvisation 26
Wassily Kandinsky, “Improvisation 26”

…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…
(Philippians 2:6-7)

He wraps Himself in light. He orders stars
And plunges to depths unseen since Adam.
Watch the flurry of clouds; watch each atom’s
Disarray as He switches near and far.
Who can make this be? We wonder what You are
That Your disorder should not be random.
Every speck, each stardust spark is planned, on
Cue; wings of night appear, angels in choir –

Listen: the heavens rearrange. He comes down
To dirt, to manger hay, carpenter’s dust.
Fathom this grace? None can. Ever deepening,
Ever plummeting the heart’s mire, it must
Defy our brain’s capacity, must drown
All expectation at this wonder, sleeping.

Lent: New Song 5

What have you seen of the past?
What stories do history’s pages tell?
A mute dirge perhaps, or a final bugle,
retreat sounding when battle’s about to be won?

You look only in false places;
the witness of the past tells only half-truth.
It was not there when firmaments were sealed
or covenants carved into space.

Shine light. Everything illuminated
comes to life. The dead must hide
in darkness where there is no voice.
Yet in the light a new song sings

and hails the truth that reigns…

Confessional Hymn, After Gavin Bryars’ “Cadman Requiem” (Cornucopia of Heaven)



Confessional Hymn

After Gavin Bryars, “Cadman Requiem”


We were not there when stars were flung
           wide, wide,     across the vast expanse.
We were not there when hearts were knit,
            when breath was breathed inside.

We were not there when plans were made,
            when laws      in hearts were broken.
Yet we were there to feel death’s sting
            and feel          the plan’s undoing.

We were there when sparks flew up
            and fire scorned        the fickle ground,
when sound was lost and wings spun out
            and everything          was falling.

Ours were hearts un-tuned to sounds
            of life             and perfect leading.
Ours were rebel schemes which blew
            the hope         out of the sky.

Though stars may fail and hearts implode:
            still, still          Creator God, uphold.
        O kyrie  eleison,                Christ –

            have mercy    on us all.