Flesh

So the word of God became a human being and lived among us.
(John 1:14 – J.B. Phillips Translation)

By any standard it would be
extraordinary to find
the infinite, immortal constrained in time

but to find Divinity where it knew full well
the hearts of man
and how they turned, mostly away –

to find the all-sufficient taking on
this meagre flesh, this weakness,
this all-too-human messiness –

no word, no response suits besides
a quaint yet apt, “Behold!”,
a marvelled, “Come and see”,

and footsteps following where he treads,
to see where God makes a home.

Logos

At the beginning God expressed himself.
(John 1:1 – J.B. Phillips Translation)

The urge to speak, to connect:
is it heresy to find this in the Immortal,
the all-sufficient? Having
no need of us, and yet

He speaks –
is Word. And we,
the subjects of His sentences,
are warmed by the light of His present tense,

turning
this way, and that,
choosing darkness and silence
yet crying out to the night to hear us.
Hear us. Here with us,

in word, in deed,
in breaking bread.

Unless I See: After Caravaggio’s “Incredulity of Saint Thomas”

No need to touch the scars;
Caravaggio got that detail wrong.
The sheer force of His presence made Thomas crumple,
doubt ceasing where belief gained life,
the parched taste, hesitant like salt, exultant like wine,
as loosened lips croaked,
My Lord and my God.

Yet I am comforted to see
both the outstretched hand and
the companions’ fingers lifting his.
I cannot tell if, like Thomas,
I could simply stop doubting and believe at such a sight,
but, held up by the weathered,
briny hands of those who’ve seen with me,
I, like him, can lift a wrinkled brow in faith.

They knew Him too at breakfast

where, on the shore, He had
already assembled, as a table,
prepared for expected guests,
a charcoal fire, some fish laid out,
and, being himself the bread,
a loaf laid for good measure.

No need, of course, for the fish they brought.
No need, either, for that excess in their boats.
To feed seven mouths plus His,
that net-bursting horn of plenty was,
as old Judas, wilting, would have had them know,
not quite au fait.

Yet fitting – that He who made Leviathan solely to frolic
should choose to play with the resources of Galilee
to make much of these staples,
to invite, to delight,
and in the olive branch of this table set
in the presence of friends and enemies

to ask, as the mercy-cup overflowed in the background,
Simon, do you love me?

Silent Day

“So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”
(John 19:42)

This in-between space is our home ground:
the time after glories and horrors alike,
the time before or after sleep –
and sometimes, sometimes it is a stretch,

sometimes a quest, or a rest.
Yet the tomb is cracking open. The ground
is trembling, if you keep your ear close.
And life is at work even as death is at work,
the silent whisper, ever, ever.

Christmas 12: Seen (Nathanael’s Story)

through the birth of Immanuel…
(From the Collect of the Day)

He saw me by the fig-tree,
desiring yet resisting,
drawn to know the truth of things
yet not looking for it there.

He heard dismissal from my lips,
saw straight into the heart of things,
called to life the truth in me;
I cannot walk away.

That God Himself should take our scum,
that He should walk right here and see –
nothing else but this remains:
I must follow in His way.

Christmas 3: Follow Me (For the Feast of St John the Evangelist)

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
(John 21:20-21)

Some followed to the cross, some to their tombs,
some were stoned, some were flayed,
some beheld the lions’ roar…

And others followed into cells
with ageing eyes in the dying light.
Some grew old to the ring of words
more bounteous than all the world.

Some saw, some hoped
but never saw.
All were held, transformed by Life –
what was, what is, what ever is,
is still to be, what waits.

The day remains, and we remain,
yet nothing is the same.

Maundy Thursday

images
The Washing of Feet – Sieger Koder
Like Peter, I am thrown.
The new commandment is old – older than water –
but never does it feel
old when it knocks where the heart’s most calloused,
with desert-worn feet, soles encased
in grime and travail.

Water washes, but the command penetrates.
And the action – the knees bent, the teacher’s degradation –
gives flesh to the mandate’s pointed bone,
flesh that will be pierced. May I be pierced.
I need more than water;
I need chisel to my stone.

20 Contemplations #9: Logos

image
Marc Chagall, "Clock and Blue Wings"

“…before Abraham was, I am.”
(John 8:58)

Eternity enters the human timeframe.
Before movement had matter, He was:
No beginning or conclusion; the same
Yesterday, today, before all days.
Even the hands of clocks he moves, sustains;
And now He enters: the watchmaker within
The mechanism; the infinite contained.
Time baffles at the sight; where do we begin
To grasp what does not begin? Yet He brings
Himself to us, to see, be seen. In one
Instant, this entropic way of things
Is opened by the entrance of the Son.
And now, contained inside a human womb,
The endless one irradiates Time’s tomb…