Ubi Caritas: For World Mental Health Day

What happens, he wonders,
shattered by the mess, by the day,
by the constancy of demands,
by the ever-present lesson of patience,
by the daily failure to learn this patience -

What happens, he asks, when my love is broken?

Nothing happens. The day goes on,
all is reset as night arrives;
all but the weight that pulls at his shoulders,
that sags like his soul has a leak in its middle.
Nothing happens;
night is as long and restless as the one before,
and morning will come with its worries anew.

But this still happens. The glory happens,
though it does not shout or cry.
Day on day, God dwells in this mystery:
that love can wake up
tomorrow
and do
what love has done today.

Chesed

To think
where darkest nights have taken this soul,
and how thin
the membrane between life
and death, how loud
the Accuser has screamed
to pierce the membrane and throw me through;

yet here
I stand, with no reason
beside You and the sheer
leap into faith that saved,
the soft
belly of love into which I fell;

so here
I stand, with my
eldest in my arms while
he reaches the clothesline,
spins like the chuckling
Father who set this orbit to go,
reaches and carries, and calls out Again!

So why not,
when held
in steadfast love; why not
watch
it spin again and shout
the dead Accuser dumb.

Changeless

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours

of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and

chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Compline, The Book of Common Prayer
Full of contradiction, I am buoyed
by the blossom of change in the trees yet
wearied
by the clock's relentless chime.
Burdened by the weight of change
and the wait for change alike, I am
entangled in the too much too little of days and months.
No clock marks His coming hour,
nor days mar His face.
O beauty ancient and new:
blossom me eternal in You.

Conversation with my son

At the sink he perches
atop his two-stepped seat to watch
a morning routine that's utter
prose for me, discovery for him:
how I wet
the shaving brush, lather soap,
then smooth the jawline
of my beard, and how
I brush my teeth without
protest, without needing
to eat the toothpaste with each brush.
And then how I open
the mirrored cabinet and take
my pill-cutter, split
Escitalopram in two, and scoop
water into my mouth to swallow.
"What will you swallow, Dad?"
How to answer?
"Medicine," I say, "to help
the chemicals in my brain."
"Maybe," he says, "when I am bigger,
I will take some medicine too."
Oh my love. "I hope not,"
is all I can say,
"because then you won't have
the sickness I have."
And as talk turns to other
two-year-old things,
my father heart churns
with the weight of this,
while pandemic and cabin fever
test the power of the pills, the rage
of being Dad drives the nerves
that splash water on my morning face.

Clutching at Light: For Leonard Cohen

…everything that is illuminated becomes a light…
(Saint Paul)

Too dark, Leonard.
Just after Solstice, the days still short,
the dark surprised me in its early arrival,
and your first song grabbed me
with its midnight-pitch grip,
and Isaac bound by demons,
crying, Here I am, Lord.

These days are dark enough; I
turned from you to Bach,
where even wintry Leipzig
could sing with counterpoint.
I did not want it darker. The darkness always gapes
and I have fought for life to prise
myself out from its grip.

Hineni, hineni.
A cry of what? Of pain?
I cry, I cry, out to the Light
to banish dark again.

#blessed

However it hits us – with sudden strike
Or slow attrition – it hits all the same.
Movements may be slower, tentative, like
A creature not accustomed to the day;
Or, paralysed, you might see the sun and
Not know that it calls you to anything
But sleep. If so, sleep deep. Tomorrow’s hand
Is stayed for now. Times without mask can bring
The faces that we long for, and our feet
When broken trample less. Now you may know
The truth that says Liar! to the swift and fleet.
In all these days of infinite regress,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, it says.