Compline: After Christian Wiman

Man is what he is and he is everything that he is in the decision of faith

Karl Barth
And faith, or belief, is more
direction than assent
to a thought or a fact; it is
movement towards
the thing from which others turn,
and from which you may have turned,
will have turned,
for hole-hearted love is never whole-hearted,

and yet
you correct, in daily
micromovements, to turn
back, again, again, and dwell -
for faith also is dwelling,
an end-of-day settling,
body and soul, weary and fighting,
ending your fighting,
and drooping, falling
into infinite arms.

Vespers: After Louise Glück

Once I believed in You,
still do,
though belief is often evasive, often abstract,
like air, which itself defies grasp
yet needy lungs clutch at it with the certainty
that this, this alone they must have.

And I believe like
the fig tree believes in the soil,
sometimes wilted, sometimes refusing fruit,
always held, always known to the roots.

And at the vesper light, I
believe, not with
the confident certainty of the apologist in debate,
the smug politician turning
divine name to unholy cause,
but like
the bed beneath me believes in the ground,
believes in the frame that holds it.

Streets to Live In (Glenroy Lent #4)

For now, where do we live?
These streets are made for walking:
quiet, reflective, built atop a hill where the cityscape
sinks beneath a thoughtful gaze.
No walls to be broken, no walls to repair;
watered gardens greet the roaming eye,
and here
an expectant couple waits
at the edge of the evening street.
Fruit trees, plane trees, crickets in the night:
all of this is built for peace,
but never built to last.

Damascus Road Prayers: Sootoro (Prayer before retiring to bed)


While my body silent lies, 
May Thy power keep vigil; 
Let my sleep in Thy presence
Be like the rising incense.
(St Ephraim the Syrian).

What can we offer?
The day is proud in its confidence;
night is helpless.
If they come, our shelters are weak,
our bags packed, our feet ready –
yet the shadow shelters too, here and in exile,
and the silent vigil is constant.

From threats which stalk without, within, we are kept:
though we are as mud-drops in an ocean,
the ocean protects.
Unknown the direction, unseen the foes;
yet we drift – tonight, tomorrow – in You,
sea of mercy, protecting light,
everything when nothing.

Tonight, hear our prayer.

Big Sky

Charcoal smudge
and ochre-stained cotton buds line the open eye
scanning ghost grey and brown wrinkled skin.
Hopeful tears explode;
white tears evaporate in the silence of the day;
in every way
the earth whispers retreat into evening grace.
Wide ground opens arms
as far as sight can be.
Trust gathers memories.
Hand-in-hand wander
to sky,
to cloud, to sky.

Evening Prayer

The leaves whistle change;
no longer burning, the air
sings a softer tune, and I
wander in the evening street

attuned to change, yet stuck within 
the day's exhaustion, mind empty,
spirit vacant. I lift
my arms to walk, to pray,

the day ahead
uncertain, silent - cooler, but still
not within my arms' reach.
You, my God,

must - if You know the movement
of the breeze, the hows and whys
of trees - also know
the temperature of tomorrow, the

pressure of the air, the way
my spirit will rise 
or fall or flow. Be still,
my soul; the Lord

is on your side.
The day lifts up its arms in
prayer; the curtain of the night
unveils the stars in praise.