We cut banana leaf from our backyard and dress
the table with these fronds for a king.
Day is overcast; spirit drizzles with
the quiet acedia of another quarantined day.
No procession today, on this or any street;
only hearts can fling wide their gates.
Yet heart has always been best, been the most
fitting place to worship this king,
temples prone to moneychangers,
guards of honour prone to deceit.
If heart must change, whatever the location,
let us begin with hearts only;
all else is stripped away.
I have been there in the festal throng,
the waving of palms,
the shouting of Psalms:
Hosanna – the highest – hosanna.
And I have felt the surge of pride
to see my king, as prophesied,
come in, triumphantly, astride
his Zechariah-steed, and I
confess that I have hoped to find
what, in the end, was more than I
had ever bargained for.
I’ve been there, too, by the fireside,
warming my hands and telling lies.
I too have hidden in the night,
afraid of my king’s disgrace.
Messiah: my soul is a fruitless figtree.
When you come to your temple, I will wither
at the sight of your certain summer.
Cast off my false foliage, and let me dwell
in your shade when you return.
Prayer of Preparation
After Gustav Holst, “Psalm 86: To My Humble Supplication”
Teach my dullness, guide my blindness
begin small –
soon bursting, soon
out into light.
Hear strings rise. Hear spirits lift
their weary, slowing hands.
See the sun open up the day.
See the Son open up
the way –
Lord, our souls are faint.
The day is bright, the sunlight blinds
and we have little voice to cry.
Hear and cleanse –
Cleanse our hearts,
the thoughts of hearts –
Magnify Your grace in us
that we may magnify Your name.
our dullness, guide
in this blinding day.
Hear our spirits soar
for all our desperate crying out.
O Lord, our rain
in reigning drought:
in brokenness we cry, we shout –
the strings of every aching one,
the strains of breath,
the stains of death.
and long – for all
desire is laid before Your throne.
Lift our hearts:
we lift our hearts
into Your shining day.
This is the day that the Lord has made:
My soul is weary; my heart is faint.
This is the righteous gate of the Lord:
I hear the slander of many.
The Lord has done this;
it is marvellous to our eyes:
My life is consumed in anguish.
O Lord, save us. Grant us success:
My times, O God, are in Your hands.
Blessed is he who comes in the name –
To the Lord I lift my soul.
The blind, the lame, are let inside;
the cursed now are blessed.
The king in triumph rides upon
a humble donkey’s colt.
The temple tables overturned,
the mind thrown into chaos,
prophecies are rendered true
in ways that chill our hearts.
The unexpected king burns bright
with anger at the sham.
He knows the depths of truest Law
Monday Before Lent Atrophied your knees, Weary your feet, Rusty the locks of the ancient gates - Prepare the way. Cry, Blessed is He! as He comes, To save, to rule, to save. Stagnant your hopes, Vacant your dreams, Silent and silenced the voice which cries - In the wilderness prepare the way! See, He comes. The donkey's steps near, Four-centuries-dormant longing yawns... Bowing your hearts, Waving your palm fronds, Whispering your hearts - Hosanna, save...Hosanna... Open now the gates of day; Prepare the fallow way.
The moment in the Easter narrative that always captures my attention most powerfully is the story of Palm Sunday, of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, hailed as king yet his death from that moment assured. This is the theme of today’s Page CXVI song, the beautiful “This Blessed Day”, accompanied by my new poem for the day. May both help us draw nearer to our servant king this Lent.
Sunday Before Lent Sons of men: the king is here; he calls, he calls your crowns and songs – Daughters, sing: behold him come; he rides, he rides adorned in humble praise – Prepare the way: lay your crowns, lay your palms, lay your souls, your soles, your steps toward him – Behold his crown: adorned with thorns. Behold his brow, adorned with shame. Behold him ride – Hosanna, praise: the king who rides, who writhes, who prays forgiveness in His name.