Till We Have Our Faces Back

First you will learn about smiles,how much you smile,what’s contained in a smile,what’s implied in the different degrees of smile:in a curl of the lip at a funny thought,in the mouth’s outstretched cornersto greet the close acquaintance, in the sardonic phrase,the empathic moment.All these things you will learnwhen they cannot be seen.And eyes. You willContinue reading “Till We Have Our Faces Back”

Other Ways to Practise Resurrection, Or, How to Beat a Pandemic: After Wendell Berry

When others horde, share. When others sneeze, do not be startled. When the numbers rise, take heart. For your life is more than your days on earth and your planet is more than a virus. When the shops are packed with people and the shelves are emptied of products, do not push and shove andContinue reading “Other Ways to Practise Resurrection, Or, How to Beat a Pandemic: After Wendell Berry”

Learning Father (II): For Eli

…it was I who taught Ephraim to walk… (Hosea 11:3) In truth, I teach this child very little. So much is sheer instinct, determination, what HR would call “get up and go”. But there’s little of HR, more of the deep-sea diver or the alchemist at his art, to how this small enthusiast takes toContinue reading “Learning Father (II): For Eli”

All the Names

In hard rubbish week, while the street is lined with broken couches and abandoned TVs, someone has shredded a phone book, leaving white and yellow pages like autumn leaves all down Grandview Street. Some pages have drifted into gardens, some line the pavement or the nature strip. Some look like a wild animal has goneContinue reading “All the Names”

The Consolations of Lent

Comfort sits, unexpected, in our waiting with weakness. No giant leaps needed, only the baby steps of the heart slowly learning contrition. Begin with incapacity, then the slow-dawning knowledge that you are nothing but dust. Dust transfigures at His breath. Exhale in the sigh of your Lenten frailty. Then inhale, inspire. O brother in ourContinue reading “The Consolations of Lent”

Tom and Bertie

Once the marriage was destroyed* did the one take comfort in the other’s halitosis? And did the other, foul in breath, seek scum to prove that folly persists in churches and in the minds of worshippers? If words are crude and language imprecise, then actions like his speak loudest: a moral compass cast aside withContinue reading “Tom and Bertie”

20 Contemplations #14: Wonder

…the astonishment of the Angels: for it is not in them (pure spirits), but in the human race, that God unites himself, and the Son of God incarnate “is not ashamed to call us his brothers.” (Olivier Messiaen) Flames of fire, yet only servants. They long to look into what we hold as child: God-made-flesh.Continue reading “20 Contemplations #14: Wonder”

Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 3

Glory to your coming that restored humankind to life. (Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns of the Nativity) Because of the shadows, we miss our brother’s face,          our sister’s gaze. The pace of the crowd moves us forward.                        If you reached out to touch my garment, I would not feel. This power departs us daily:Continue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 3”


No mirror to reflect, no voice, only      dust, sculpted by hands,                              crafted by plan. No self-stirring spirit, no knowledge,     no thrust, only dust, fingerprinted, moulded –   with tears and with blood    and with sweat – now we stand,                     heart and body, earthenware image, dust reflecting       in praise.