Advent 21: Neither slumber nor sleep

In a creaking house for family feasting, I sat
as summer light streamed through leadlight doors and
cracks in curtains,
fairy lights twinkling on pine tree while
I rocked my youngest, disrupted by
the change of place, his older
brother’s noise and the stubborn light,
and tried to make a darkness conducive
to an eight-month child’s much-needed sleep,
and fancied the Father
keeping vigil by my fretful side
neither slumbering nor sleeping
until true day arrives.

Advent 20: and earth shall melt away

…heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign…
(Christina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Midwinter”)

While fires burned, I retreated
to safer, internal climes, denying heat.
Discomfort seemed unreasonable,
inconvenient that we should be so troubled.
Yet world rarely does as it’s told,
pointing a finger at us as we point back at it.
If world won’t be bullied, how much less so God
who bursts mightier than fire
and shakes out our smug contentment
with the mountains and the stars.
If earth will melt, how much more our pride
when kingdom comes in blaze,
in goodness?

Advent 16: At that time I will bring you home

A nomad for much of my days, I confess
the urge is strong now to stay put, to secure,
to gather and store,
to extend the barns for the coming drought.

Where luxurious waste gathers in wardrobes and pantries, I long
to play the rich fool and leave it be.
Yet still the cloud gets up each day
and leads me to I-don’t-know-where,
and we who have been baptised in Red Sea and cloud
must pack up our chattels and keep our hands empty
with everything but covenant open to loss
and the homes we’ve not built set before us.

Advent 14: Last Things

You shall turn again to earth.
(Christina Rossetti, “For Advent”)

Before leaving for our new home, we take
the last year’s compost and distribute
rich, fermenting soil across our garden bed,
while lawn – parched from summer – longs weakly for green.
I too am parched and though
made of mud I cannot rest in dirt
until the heat is passed.
And so I long
for earth to reform, reconstitute
my barren bones and take dead seed
to make things new again.
Moving always, I crave endless home,
crave dwelling beneath Your rain.

Advent 13: But I said, “I have laboured in vain”

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.”

Lie down in chaos

Anselm Kiefer - Man under a pyramid
Anselm Kiefer – Man under a pyramid

He gives His beloved sleep.
(Psalm 127:2)

The bed decked in a week’s laundry, and
a million miniscule things left undone,
Sleep still says, “Rest your weary head.
The day is long, tomorrow longer,
and after that who knows.
For now, this minute, lie down.
In chaos, be still.”
So I am still,
and the chaos does not overwhelm me,
and the chaos will not overwhelm.

A Mindlessness Prayer

These days when all of the socks are odd
and all your thoughts are scrambled eggs
and, try as you might to talk to God,
nothing much makes any sense,

for the rubbish awaits in noisome piles,
the bills are due and so’s the tax
and the laundry measures its depth in miles
and the devil has pains for idle backs –

unjumble yourself in a heap at Christ’s feet;
ramble and rant to the maker of ants
and all that creeps the planet, replete
with all its tangled, unnecessary plants;

rejoice to be useless and childlike and weak;
rejoice that you cannot make anything work;
rejoice and delight that the end of the week
will come round regardless of what you deserve;

and delight to know that mindless you are
yet He who is mindful of you holds the stars.