As the changing but constant expectations
of a year that no-one chose keep knocking
and the day of the Lord lingers and tarries from my watch-post,
to take this one quietly, on the bench,
with Saul and the others who couldn't run the race.
No shame in being worn out when
the swift themselves are flagging
and the flags
are all at half-mast or lower.
No prizes for laps of honour, least of all in a mask.
Preserve breath, preserve what
energy you have left, I say.
Though my words burn and I
would be better served not to speak
but to hear.
A voice like a whisper, like fire,
like a victor:
My yoke is easy. My burden is light.
No shoulders strong enough for burdens today;
even then, there is grace.
The sun beating heavily on our heads, we felt
the agony of things straining against themselves,
felt the longing but not the reward and grew
weary of the day.
When I spoke, it was gravel in my throat.
“Show me,” I demanded, “the length of these days.
Show me the end.” And the sun
did not relent in its frenzied beaming
while the aching rhythm in my joints was murmuring,
“Soon. His time is soon.”
...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 not only this
but every future season’s crop.
There’s a sickness that can end in life,
that kills illusions, opens eyes.
Wisest farmers wait their time
and learn the seasons’ darkest signs.
Wiser still the one who turns
despair of here to hope beyond.
Whether misplaced or stolen, the effect is the same:
the search, the panic, the retracing of steps,
the sense that not an object but an organ,
not a possession but a position,
has vanished, without trace.
Whether passing or lasting, the search seems boundless.
The mind must run to what-ifs because
you never know: the cushion may disguise it, yet
tomorrow may also bear more disappointments
and soon it may be clear,
it is gone. And for now, at least, it is.
You might as well prepare:
its absence now defines you. The gains it bore
now weigh you down, your mind ever turning
to carve possibilities like pillars of salt.
Throw off. If it returns,
the bond must not return with it.
You have lost yourself; rejoice, held securely,
if tomorrow proves lost,
What now? Death
takes the best; the body droops
upon the Cross. We look;
the sting in eyes declares
that all is done.
It is finished. What?
Are we done for, Lord? Where
the hopes and fears of all
the years, once met in You?
Where now? All done?
All done for?
What next? Take the body down
and wait? The evening yawns.
Swing low, sweet chariot, come.
Come take us home.
Our minds cannot contain
something so small, so
Universe sustained within –
a mustard seed
which sees the mountain,
sees despair beneath its foot
and says to it, Now move.
O God. The mountain blocks our view.
The heights have dizzied;
the depths distress.
Open your seed within.