What have I done with the food you gave me?
The bread of life grows mould where I left it.
The leaven of self sickens and spoils.
Puffed up by bread alone, no Word, I am fat and famished.
In the desert of abundance,
Lord have mercy.
All the kingdoms of the world dangle before you.
Only a bend of the knee will give them to you.
I bend at the first offer of reprieve.
Forty days can only show my nest of callow vipers.
In the desert of my failing,
Christ have mercy.
You flap your dove’s wings above living water,
Yet I am bent on brackish wastelands.
I draw brine and bile from my spirit’s well.
I vent spleen upon your ever-flowing fountain.
At the oasis of contrition,
Lord have mercy.
We travel through cosmic debris.
All the time a war wages – starshower missiles,
The mayhem is our doing.
Harmony – meant to be sung –
ended with us.
Begin again with us.
From ashes we stand,
cupped hands opened to receive,
to re-enter Your orbit.
(Inspired by this translation of Nelly Sachs: https://nellysachsenglish.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/whoever-comes-from-the-earth/)
What warmth I hide in will soon grow cold.
All Peter’s false fires, Adam’s cloak of leaves,
will burn out, fade, and leave nakedness in ash.
Clothe me. My shame is always before me.
Nothing hides from Your sight
what should be white, yet’s stained like blood.
O God. I stand –
You are enough. You are enough.
Newness declares itself in broken hearts:
old ruts are vast and carry dust
yet penitence cleans fathoms deep
and always makes anew.
What yesterday made shame your song
today is fading into silence.
Listen: polyphonic hope arises,
gentle, soft, yet sure.
The old has passed, yet still can yell;
The new has come, and comes each day.
In humble ways and hopeful praise,
sing to the Lord new songs.
Sing to the Lord a new song –
The old song is tired; it has no breath.
Love and faithfulness have kissed;
sing their song and live.
Make way a path for righteousness –
a level path where knees won’t strain.
Sing body parts into new joy;
watch new steps form for feet.
O search my heart. O listen, song –
the old is dead. The new must come.
Before your feet, set righteousness;
let bodies learn His hymn.
When morning bright awakens eyes:
awaken tongue; awaken mind.
When birdsong sounds the new of day:
sing, soul and heart; sing new pathways.
When yesterday creeps back to minds:
awaken, spirit; transform flesh.
When patterns threaten, dead songs groan:
listen, heart, to Spirit’s song.
Turn the sounds of self to silence;
lift up selfless praise.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth!…Tell of his salvation from day to day.
(Psalm 96:1, 2b)
Old songs rot in dead ears;
Old ruts of thought declare:
That was not me I will try harder
I had no choice
That’s just the person that I am…
To fudge is human; to change is divine.
The former things are dying;
Listen to this newest song,
The freshest song to sound in years:
All your dead deeds will crumble, fade,
yet there’s a God who gladly saves
and in the stars’ ancient dust He calls forth light…
Turn; sing to Him from your dust heap
your morning Son,
your great Ancient of Days…
J.S. Bach: Motet BWV 225 ‘Singet dem Herrn’ – Vocalconsort Berlin