Broken, new

Everything breaks,
is broken, or
sticks underfoot like porridge.
Voice grows tired, and
heart turns wild
at the endless, savage
price of love.
Crushed underfoot,
I learn Eden and Golgotha
while I wipe the floor again.
Body breaks, is broken,
tomorrow is new.

The Gospel Reading

The day had gone on long enough.
First the Pharisees and their questions,
then the intruding children,
then the camel and the needle's eye,

so that, when they cried out,
"Who then can be saved?" it was
as much from the weariness of the day's
debates as the thought that riches
could keep an earnest man from heaven.

And so, right when
all their careworn sandles seemed
not worth the effort, He looked
into eyes and said, "What's impossible
for man is possible for God."
What then? Could God lift
the labour-sick soul, and write
new possibility on its nature?

In the midst of the burden
and the striving, this truth:
Be small. Be like a child.
Be less so I may be more.

Acedia

“… how we perform these often dispiriting duties, from the changing of a baby’s diaper to the bathing of an aged parent, reveals what kind of God we worship.”

Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me
Weary, yet itching for greater things,
Longing to change the world while
my own heart lies stony and stagnant,

I turn
from the trifles of significance and
grand Calls to the small,
the smallest of things, and seek

as I sweep scattered breakfast,
wipe porridge from grabby fingers,
to loose
my fingers from my own feeble Self

and mop
away the dregs of my torpid ego
and make a hole fit
for footwashing Christ
to call home.

God in all this: For St Ignatius of Loyola

"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,

even now
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?

Even now.

As yet untitled

As the changing but constant expectations
of a year that no-one chose keep knocking
and the day of the Lord lingers and tarries from my watch-post,
I long

to take this one quietly, on the bench,
with Saul and the others who couldn't run the race.
No shame in being worn out when
the swift themselves are flagging
and the flags
are all at half-mast or lower.
No prizes for laps of honour, least of all in a mask.
Preserve breath, preserve what
energy you have left, I say.

I say.
Though my words burn and I
would be better served not to speak
but to hear.
A voice like a whisper, like fire,
like a victor:
My yoke is easy. My burden is light.
No shoulders strong enough for burdens today;
even then, there is grace.

Mary Martha

Can I sit
attentive to the voice of many waters
and yet
move, serve, respond?

Can I act,
responsive to a world of burning rubble
and yet
listen, stop and breathe?

Full of many things,
I forget
to choose the better part.
Caught in mindless bustle,
I catch
eternity in the friction that grinds
to a hault.
O bless the failure
that drives me kneeward.
Bless the gravel that stirs up
my knees to stretch and rise.

Face-to-face: After Emmanuel Levinas

My brother's face is not my face;
His eyes see things mine do not see,
And when I try to take his place
I'm stuck in his alterity.

I do not know what he has known.
I do not think his thoughts with him.
His father is my father. Though
He is not me, he is my kin.

Each other face I daily see,
Each gaze that pierces into pride,
Each face is still a mystery,
A space I cannot climb inside.

And yet I must begin each day
Before my brother's other face,
And hear my unknown sister say,
"Thou shalt not kill" with silent gaze.

And I must stand before a One
Who is not seen, with unseen face,
And yet is like all-knowing Sun
And stands in hated Stranger's place.

And who is my neighbour?

Love, sensing Self flex muscles,
Circumvents the question, takes a detour
Along a Jericho road,
A thoroughfare often taken, seldom observed.

Love stretches the story out,
Beyond expectation, beyond our trust,
Defeats its stock of righteous men,
Then surprises with a foe.

Love befriends the enemy,
Gives face and heart to the hated one.
Love helps us up the donkey's back,
Carries us safe, far from home.

Love takes flexed muscles, unflexes them,
Unwinds Self's tautly wrought syntax.
Wrong question, Love says. True question is:
Whose neighbour am I?
Van Gogh, The Good Samaritan

Silence

If words fail, being only breath,
Look to the one who was himself
The Word, though many said not.
Look to the one whose last
Breath, crushed by Satan's
Knee, was "Forgive."
Look to Him
And keep
Faith.