Lent: Emmaus 2

The heavens are telling the glory of God –
    (tweet tweet, like like, instant message)
His voice goes out to the ends of the earth –
    (I fast, I tithe, I pray twice a day)
Heaven and earth will pass away –
    (Lord, let me sit at your right hand)
Before His law will fade.

In wilderness, make straight the way –
     (I thank you, Lord, I’m not like him)
The Son of Man must suffer and die –
    (O surely Lord not I?)
Heaven and earth will pass away –
     (Anti-ageing cream for sale)
His promises remain.

Burnt-out Prayer: For Ash Wednesday

King: I cannot come to You however I choose
yet all I am is a bundle
hurriedly put together,
no sack cloth, no ashes,
hair still mussed from slumber,
limbs dragging,
soul flat,
feet not yet expecting to walk…

Can I come to You as a stowaway,
scarcely awake, found among cargo,
hiding like Jonah while the waves ravage?
I bring no grand promise,
no sufficiency,
only the startled eyes of one caught unawares
and the knowledge that, when before kings, I must bow,
and, when cast in oceans, to swim.

Though forty days are hardly enough
for the numbness of limbs to distribute itself
and for fingers to learn, once again, how to pray –
I come to you, King, in dishevelled dismay
and declare my all dross at Your feet.
If my Amen burns faint now
or my wick dwindles, short,
may You be my prayer’s substance,
its fire,
its fuel.

My Jonah Heart


Recite this catalogue of wrongs:
I loved this tree   –   if you loved me
I always knew    –   I told you so…
And all the while in Ninevah
the people weep in ash.

Uphold your cause; God may forget
the hurts you hold, the wounds you bear.
The tree’s shade is your natural right.
Shake fists; see God reply…

The merciful, the good, the just:
perhaps He lost, amidst the dust
of Ninevah your noble case.
You must bemoan your tree.

Or turn your eyes to kings in ash
and rags. See hearts turn round.
You know His name; you know the truth.
Turn, Jonah, and arise.

Kyrie (Cornucopia of Heaven)

Image: Score of Palestrina's Kyrie Eleison myartprints.co.uk
Image: Score of Palestrina’s Kyrie Eleison myartprints.co.uk


After Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, “Missa Papae Marcelli: Kyrie”


From earth, from soil, from hearts, from fractures
             Kyrie               Kyrie
From death, from fire, from quake, from anguish
                          Kyrie               Kyrie
From drought that blocks, from self that locks
                                    Kyrie eleison

From sin, from toil, from pride, from hate
            Christe             Christe
From plenty turned to nothing, starving
                          Christe             Christe 
From world rebelling, fair made foul –                                                                                                                      Christe eleison
Sing, creation. Sing, dead bones.
            Kyrie               Kyrie
Long for what has died to live
                         Kyrie               Kyrie
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy –
Long for when He comes again –
                                 Kyrie eleison.

Lent 5: First Sunday of Lent

So bones, built to follow, ache

When trapped inside guilt’s cave.


Tongues, carved to praise, grow numb

When, dry and thick with sin, they lie in silence.


And hearts, taught to turn upwards in trust,

Grow ashen when no light has space to shine.


Open, heart. Untangle, tongue. Bones, rejoice.

Redemption light shines into every hoping heart…

Gerard van Honthorst, "King David Playing the Harp" http://commons.wikimedia.org
Gerard van Honthorst, “King David Playing the Harp”

Lent 2: Thursday After Ash Wednesday

The soil says that we are dust;
In dust and soil we stand.
A voice from in the wilderness
Calls out, Prepare the way…

In dust a child lays its head,
In sawdust whittles wood
And takes on ash and dust for us
And washes in the sea.

In ash and dust we wait for you;
Our soiled souls now wait.
You take our ash, you take our dust
And wash us as you bleed.