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.
Reduced to its skeleton, the tree
remembers days of birds in bowers,
branches bent with the weight of fruit,
and now bent with the wait of days
when flourishing's a memory.
But still the soil nurtures.
Still the roots draw deep and branches
in their stasis grow in strength.
Still rosehips bud where flowers did
and the eagle,
grace in his pinions,
takes twigs and plants them
atop His rising hill.
Son of man,
speak to the bones.
Speak to the longing marrowed in bones.
Speak more than the mere promise of seasons:
speak deep to the riddles of blood and bone earth.
Son of man,
shall these bones live?
I’m only going over Jordan,
I’m only going over home.
(“Poor Wayfaring Stranger”, trad.)
Truth be told, I hardly think of it,
the end of my roaming, except perhaps as sleep,
or when, longing for an end to all ending things,
I dream of new creations. Yet
the sum of my longing is not halfway close,
bound as I am by my weak desires,
and no more can I comprehend
what waits than a foetus knows what makes
such thrumming noise beyond the womb.
I only dip my feet in Jordan;
I must submerge myself and drift
away from all I think I know
to what I trust knows me.