As the sun rises, again,
a little sheepish, over
this hesitant day,
prepare the way
for my often straying feet.
May my yesterdays not repeat
except in the way Your grace has of giving
every new day for new ways of living.
Keep me. Make me new:
I have not loved
as I ought to have loved;
I have not taken the good as gift;
I have not said Yes to all from Your hand.
Whatever day holds - to sit, walk or stand -
may it be You
in every breath - You.
World without end,
and if world should end.
Father, Son, Spirit: Amen.
What the day brings is anyone's guess:
Students in masks, temperature checks at the front gate,
But what else? Prognoses and rules change by the minute;
What yesterday was harmless today may destroy.
Brave new day that has such features in it.
And so, the day lying open
Like a box, like a question,
I rejoice to see vermilion horizon
That smiles on the locked-down and the risen alike.
Even in new homes, morning has old narratives
formed by other mornings,
by schedules, by delays.
So I approach the day as though it’s been before,
its parameters are fixed,
its possibilities known.
Adam beheld the first sunrise,
called himself inventor. I
almost ignore the miracle, too entangled
in strands of ground to see sky,
a scattering spool
of morning-pink cloud-thread
entwines my eye.
Not a word, as such,
but a message nonetheless,
a promise in this time of dust:
If this is how I hold the clouds,
then how much more…
And I am caught:
a moment between ash and new birth.
New Adam knows dust
and I am consoled in this knowledge.
Acknowledgment sounds with our morning yawn:
We have been in need; we have been held safe.
And the quiet of the dawn routine declares
That we are weak, are strangers to this day.
Awaken slowly. Infants in the world,
What will you do now? Fresh from the night’s grace,
Will you shake your horn’s fist at the first sight
Of anguish lurking at the silent light?
Forgiven much, enrage. The open space
Of day defies you. If all now unfurled,
How would it be to wait, to be, to say
Yet not my will? Grace’s true cost lies there
And we are not prepared. Our kinship chafes
As we seek love, reluctant, through the dawn.
When you are able, bend your knees, when you cannot, make intercession in your mind, ‘at evening and at morning and at midday’.
(St Ephraim the Syrian)
From the rising of the sun –
whatever morning reveals –
to the setting of the same –
What ruins lie at our feet –
whatever looks safer in darkness –
what night fears have haunted us –
And when we cannot, Lord, for aching –
when the ground kicks against us –
when the rising sun scalds us –
Turn our minds to the breaking of Your dawn.
The sun today blinds us –
history wounds us –
yet Your dawn is sure,
Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
To the untrained eye, nothing has changed:
smoke still billows from chimneys;
mornings are dark; alarms wake too early;
the mad prince still fools the diplomat with his madness,
the sane with his sanity.
To the untrained eye, all these clouds look the same
and cannot be seen for the smog.
Brakes still wail; billboards roar;
by afternoon, relax your tie –
yet it is not like it was before.
This flesh-and-blood normality
denies this Nonetheless which sits
beside us and inside and knocks
us sideways with its shock of grace.
Everything is rent in two;
these clouds are never still, and all
these forms we fill will not contain
what lies before our way.
For every indifferent sigh, repent;
as the lie falls away,
falls the Day.
I journey between factories and billboards and trees;
needles of light pierce the morning sky,
and in the east the vermilion city wakes.
Spanning the distance, birds fly in sequence,
sweeping sheets, kites, giant gulls across the horizon.
When I arrive I will be static, and spark at friction
from those who start their day unawares.
If I cannot have flight, O God, let me kneel;
we deny You with every passive grumble,
each scant refusal of Your song.
Early on Saturday morning, the fire brigade was called to my church – a 150-year-old heritage-listed building on the corner of one of Melbourne’s most iconic streets, and the building which my fiancée and I recently booked to celebrate our marriage. That day, the Bible reading my church family was looking at in our devotional times was Luke 12:22-34, a passage which I, by pure coincidence, found myself writing about in my poem for that day. No-one could possibly have known how pertinent that passage would be to us. Our church still stands, but we will not be able to worship together there for a year at least. It is a time of mourning for all of us. Yet, when we gathered together yesterday as a whole church community in St Paul’s Cathedral and read Luke 12:22-34 again, we were reminded of the glorious truth of God’s promises to His people. This world’s treasures, even church buildings, will all be destroyed one day. But our Father has been pleased to give us the kingdom. Today I am posting two poems to reflect on this truth. Here is the first.
After J.S. Bach, “BWV 69: Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele”
I awoke to a harpsichord of birdthrum,
the air alight with strings, a wall
of horns against the trees
and phoenixes in
the distance praised in trumpet-hope.
Toices twirled and twined around
the fretful day, where fire
(and moth and rust)
destroy the treasures of our day.
Singing like the newly born, the birds
cared nothing for death.
Every day new,
they promised what no night will tarnish:
a day of every harmony resolved
and hope that fire cannot take.