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.”
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.
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,
risen, no fall.
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.
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,
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
Approach now with confidence:
His throne beckons near.
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,
how true cold feels
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.
please keep us warm.
The winter does not sit with us.
And strengthen mumbling
to take the worst