Learning Father

800px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project
Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”, c.1661-1669

History has few exemplars to be proud of.
The Greeks did well with Priam, at least,
willing to face “iron-hearted,
man-slaying Achilles” for the sake of a son.
My own culture’s replete with absent men,
“bronze Anzacs” taught from birth not to cry.
The Biblical witness, too, leaves something to be desired:
most too busy with wives in multiples to see
sons ganging up on sons, hurling into ditches,
covering many-coloured garments with blood.
Some simply could not hear, over
the chewing of fruit, the sound of the older
saying to the younger brother, “Come for a walk.”
One king learnt too late that all
the years at war, or watching rooftop baths,
did not teach a son to trust or respect his old man.
Only this cry rings out as a lesson: “Absalom,
my son, my son! Would that it were me instead of you.
Absalom, my son, my son. Absalom, my son!”

Perhaps the polygamists, war-mongers and liars
have this to teach us: the insufficiency of one
man of dust to be the all, the end, of the home.
In his frailty and deceit he clears the way
for another tale, another sight:
the wealthy man embracing pig-stained rags,
the fattened calf killed,
the Father’s arms stretched.
This witness alone can teach the twisted tongue
the meaning of our faintly-voiced, “Father.”

20 Contemplations #1: Colours of the Father

What do you see? He is invisible

Yet all creation knows Him. Listen:

The birds slow their flight for Him; leaves glisten

In all His coloured light. Impossible

Strains of symmetry glide through chaos: simple

In their dignity, yet rich in vision.

Catch the smallest glimpse, the grandest impression:

He is more – glorious, indivisible.

Eye cannot see; microscope cannot capture

Yet soon He will break from Godhead to be

Zygotic, a blip. Consider the rapture,

The folly. Look at the Father and see

The crimson of life, the brown of this hay,

The exploding grace of the rainbow.

Catechism 51

Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?
Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.
(New City Catechism)

Not waiting in vain,
men and women thirsting at a cloudless sky,
nor farmers ploughing a desert.
Not children
hiding behind a veil of hands
or the clenched-fisted ones in the corner.
No metaphor sates us:
only a body will do. Only
face-to-face, Father to Son,
full sight in place of dim mirrors.
And so a body grows,
and for a body, a home with walls
solid to the touch, but never closed,
a welcome that has arms,
a priest who bears scars,
a love decked with nails,
crowned,
risen, no fall.

Catechism 41

lordsprayer

What is the Lord’s Prayer?

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

(New City Catechism)

 

Hands upraised,        hands open
        imploring              yet worshipping
receiving              yet giving
        asking                 yet content
forgiven               and forgiving
        on earth,              as it is in heaven;
now                    forever
        delivered             yet
              daily caught in moments’ fear…

Our Father     here    and Heaven’s king:
            teach us how to pray.

Catechism 39

With what attitude should we pray?
With love, perseverance, and gratefulness; in humble submission to God’s will, knowing that, for the sake of Christ, he always hears our prayers.
(New City Catechism)

And He does,
     always:
no unjust judge, unmindful of man,
no stony indifference
     when bread is required,
no doors shut at evening,
     no scorpions for fish,
but fatherly    constant
          extravagant
                   care.
Approach now with confidence:
       His throne beckons near.

Winter came

            unnoticed; we
thought it had arrived.
 
            The subtle lull
                        of autumn tricked us
            with its need for cardigans
                        and leaves aesthetically arranged
                                    on garden floors and streets.
 
We thought the worst had come,
            forgot
                        how true cold feels
            on toes.
                       And now:
            the need for scarves
                        in bags (in case)
            and duffle coats;
the huddled walk
            of chilling feet
                        and all the proud offense of those
            who do not know the cold.
 
Father hands:
            please keep us warm.
The winter does not sit with us.
                        And strengthen mumbling
            grumbling minds
                        to take the worst
            that comes.