I missed the flames that day,
was at my books, learning the whys and wherefores of Law,
determined that every subscript iota
would not be neglected when I stood before God.
The Spirit blows wherever it wills.
Mine was the letter, not the wind.
When, years later, I clutched letters in hand,
I held every one that spelt, I am right.
I missed the flame, but the wind still arrested;
and the Son spoke assaults on my well-crafted name.
The Spirit caught, sent me – though crooked –
blown by its wind to the street they call Straight.
What have I done with the food you gave me?
The bread of life grows mould where I left it.
The leaven of self sickens and spoils.
Puffed up by bread alone, no Word, I am fat and famished.
In the desert of abundance,
Lord have mercy.
All the kingdoms of the world dangle before you.
Only a bend of the knee will give them to you.
I bend at the first offer of reprieve.
Forty days can only show my nest of callow vipers.
In the desert of my failing,
Christ have mercy.
You flap your dove’s wings above living water,
Yet I am bent on brackish wastelands.
I draw brine and bile from my spirit’s well.
I vent spleen upon your ever-flowing fountain.
At the oasis of contrition,
Lord have mercy.
Delight the Spirit feels in constant burst:
Delight in Three, delight in all that’s good.
And as the Son descends, is born, is God,
Delight the Spirit feels at last, at first.
Joy of Spirit fractures Earth’s rehearsed
Ways of being happy. Earth gives a nod
To God, then walks the path that Adam trod.
Spirit breaks the world’s disguising curse:
Where fair is foul and foul is fair, it sounds
Like clanging noise, but hear the rhythmic joy
That dances in between the plaintive theme.
The theme of joy is shrouded, yet abounds;
It sleeps within the heart of infant boy
And whispers in the truest child dreams.
The sky is clear
but in the distance clouds gather
in manifold metallic tones.
The road lies open, save the lane
where a car met a day that ruptured its way,
crushed its bonnet, its schedule;
we mouth our complaints.
Red messages warn that soon we too will be disrupted.
Slower than usual, no reason or sign,
traffic takes no heed that your wife is sick,
that someone’s possibility has been shattered,
that today’s already a write-off inside your mind.
Functional to the last, roads rule only in chance,
yet birds still fly in sequence
and atop a warehouse a naked cross stands.
Perhaps in this noise somewhere a chapel lies,
and sandaled feet might still flop-flip even on this road,
fingers beckoning, spirit pulling: Follow me.
The self-sufficiency of traffic signs tells
nothing of our insides.
Expect delays; accept delays:
the deism of the day ends here.
How long? How long? I drag my voice.
I cling, I waiver, I thirst, I desire –
My spirit shall rejoice.
In silence, in hum of background noise,
I stretch my neck from familiar mire –
How long? How long? I unravel voice.
The wait, the weight of hidden joys,
When all my sky clouds round and gyres –
My spirit shall rejoice.
Expectancy grows numb. Life silences choice.
Better to shake, better to blaze on fire.
How long? How long? I unfurl my voice.
Complacency leadens; I wave but cannot hoist.
Yet what is lost? the dove’s coo enquires.
Can the spirit still rejoice?
The soul’s pivot; heaviness gathers poise.
Let anchored hope never expire.
How long? How long? Lift high your voice.
My spirit, my spirit shall rejoice.
Waves drag, anchor fails –
my God my God why
In this torpor, what lifts?
The heart, bird-like, hovers –
an albatross, a vulture?
Yet a dove dives deep and holds;
it coos what cannot be cried.
My God my God why
– too heavy for words, yet hands can be raised,
barely, above the waves.
This is enough. Moan, wail, cry.
Words are not needed where the Spirit has flight.
Trust, and open your drowning arms.
When morning bright awakens eyes:
awaken tongue; awaken mind.
When birdsong sounds the new of day:
sing, soul and heart; sing new pathways.
When yesterday creeps back to minds:
awaken, spirit; transform flesh.
When patterns threaten, dead songs groan:
listen, heart, to Spirit’s song.
Turn the sounds of self to silence;
lift up selfless praise.
What is baptism?
Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.
(New City Catechism)
Why water? First
He hovered, spirit, above the depths,
divided water in sky from land,
said, “Here shall your proud waves be stopped,
here go no further.”
Yet then, when earth
had sickened and man had withered His image,
He took out the stopper and let the waves pour forth.
Now He bids
water flow over bodies
and into hearts, cleansing, reversing
the tides of shame, of uncreation; now pours
Spirit flooding with life, where only
death once hovered.
Take the waves, take
the plunge. Life beckons.
Still His Spirit hovers and breathes
into the dead, still He makes
and remakes and remakes.
How is the Word of God to be read and heard? With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives. (New City Catechism)
And teach. Let us be ready:
the hands poised beneath the pages,
holding open, as in prayer;
the eyes attuned, the ears listening,
the spirit waiting,
the Spirit turning
hearts to hear and grow.
though minds are dull
and eyes may wander,
teach and hold
and store within
the mind’s recesses truths received.
Let grace unfold
in pages turned in time, absorbed,
ingested, stored in minds and souls,
ready now to grow.