Itching ears may long to hear,
All is well. Everyone relax.
But truth is rarely so welcome, or simple;
more often we hear All is not well before it is well.
More often the doctor diagnoses before healing;
the exiles must first be exiled
before coming home.
All shall be well. All manner of things
shall be well. But first we must learn
the difference between "well"
and the "fine" or "not bad"
that we utter without thought
when passing in the street.
Well is a deep, unfakeable truth,
a nature of being that has passed through the fire,
and, refined by the fire,
knows that His love
is there, even in fire.
On this day
I still wrestled my children
into their clothes,
still raced out the door
too late for comfort,
still pricked my finger with a rose thorn,
still feared that all my labour's in vain,
and found the evening slump
a little close to despair
everything changed, while nothing changed
and mustard seeds of life were at work
whether we noticed
where darkest nights have taken this soul,
and how thin
the membrane between life
and death, how loud
the Accuser has screamed
to pierce the membrane and throw me through;
I stand, with no reason
beside You and the sheer
leap into faith that saved,
belly of love into which I fell;
I stand, with my
eldest in my arms while
he reaches the clothesline,
spins like the chuckling
Father who set this orbit to go,
reaches and carries, and calls out Again!
So why not,
in steadfast love; why not
it spin again and shout
the dead Accuser dumb.
To prepare my children for a world of puddles,
I must learn myself what to do with puddles,
how to take the mud with the joy,
how to wear the shock of the wet,
how to delight in the splash.
To prepare my children for a world of shadows,
I must learn how to see the sun in the shadows,
and how to trace the dance of light,
how to marvel at silhouettes,
how not to fear the night.
To prepare my children for a world of unknowns,
I must brace myself and unknow
all this false security
we held for years before this one,
and rest when I don't know.
To prepare my children for a world of Day,
I must learn the worth of days,
and I must learn to face the night
that our days may be unafraid.
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.Collect for Compline, The Book of Common Prayer
Full of contradiction, I am buoyed
by the blossom of change in the trees yet
by the clock's relentless chime.
Burdened by the weight of change
and the wait for change alike, I am
entangled in the too much too little of days and months.
No clock marks His coming hour,
nor days mar His face.
O beauty ancient and new:
blossom me eternal in You.
Deprived of the ordinary markings of days -
drives to work, birthdays, people to celebrate -
more fervently to organic signs,
the constant shifts in the garden,
which trees have blossomed,
which ones have leaves,
how tall the pea plant has grown,
how white its petals.
These and the aphids signal time:
those and the snails migrating,
the worms beneath the compost,
the dead bird by the granny flat,
rising and falling daily tallies,
who died youngest, who's all clear
and how long until - we cannot say -
only greet other pilgrims on the way, and pray.
Watchful, I spy the first buds,
now only the flower's potential,
one day, soon - the fruit.
Impatient, I come here
again, again each day
to measure progress in the budding leaf
or to catch
the lemon in the act of ripening,
quince in mid-blossom,
almond in leaf.
Wait, small heart.
It lingers; wait.
The signs are sure
though August is fickle and eyes are sore.
And God has granted each beauty its day;
rest your eyes on this
In Winter's garden bed I saw you,
plucky yet tentative,
white bursting but drooping at the stem,
head bowed in humble prayer,
hopeful of the day to come,
whispering its name.
"Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created."
St Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises
Even this, Ignatius?
When all are in retreat in their homes,
when consoling and desolating spirits
vy for the attention of every moment,
when truth is in short supply
and what truth we have is despair,
can we catch divine movement behind a face mask,
hear the Spirit call beyond garden walls,
see will and purpose despite ailing hope,
even now can we notice
Christ animate the soul
though it flags and fails?
Listen: the almond has something white to announce...
Tiny white heralds like angels burst
from coronawinter barren branch,
whispering, echoing, promising.
The time is slow
but gives glimpses.
The promise is faint
The season's sure
that waits in the whispers.
Truer than winter, truer than spring:
the eternal soon.