Desert Food

They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.”

2 Samuel 17:28-29
Mid-crisis, after yet another narrow escape,
the fugitive king rests, and this ordinary, abundant fare
pausing somewhere -
a plateau, perhaps where the enemy, his son,
can still be seen? Or tucked away
in the cleft of some rock, like Moses spared
from judgment's full daylit face?
There will be a time and place
for judgment, and for the essay of souls,
a time to examine heart's motives, to ponder
the chance that maybe the rebel son's It.
Yet in this middle point of crisis
there is time even for kings
to strengthen with grains, with lentils, with cheese,
to eat honey and curds in the desert breeze.

Improvisation: Rain

In these days of lockdown (my city, Melbourne, is experiencing the toughest restrictions of anywhere in Australia so far), I have been finding myself drawing increasing inspiration from the small things that I notice in my local environment, looking ever closer and closer to the consolations of the everyday. This video poem came from a moment of stillness while walking my children along the Werribee River, persevering through intermittently heavy rain. May we all keep noticing the small fingerprints of God in the easily missed details of our lockdown lives. Stay safe.

Sabbath

This afternoon, though I’d planned
a much-needed rest, many tasks overtook and
somewhere amidst assembling IKEA furniture I found
the afternoon gone and dusk charcoaling the sky,
so instead I walked
my toddler to the compost heap and there
we shredded paper scraps to balance the mix
and pulled weeds from the side garden while
my son trialled his latest words and declared “I want!”
as the evening air bristled and my fingers let go.

Being There

It lies
entwined with the gull’s wing
in pink seastring
among polished shellflakes
where the dog inspects the ocean’s rip
and the children tag along.

It sits
beside you with the waves’ murmur
as ever-renewing current speaks
of voices long ago which said,
Here shall you go; no further.
And it hums
in the morning wind which blows
skeletal details
like tumbleweed over
the criss cross of the sand.

A gift.

Before we save the daylight

image

Settle.
The city is quietly occupied, the day protected –
as though something must be done.
Watch a screen by all means,
but first gather friends,
and walk to the shops to lubricate the day.
Or hit the streets, if you choose –
to enjoy unexpected sunshine, and the hum,
like a ball hissing through the sky,
of a city in agreement.
Deeper meaning is lost, yet perhaps we still glimpse Sabbath:
a quiet acceptance that today we need not be boss.
Whatever sport we make, however we will spend
the lost hour of this night –
rejoice now in daylight,
in a moment which can neither be bought nor saved,
yet beckons the endless holiday,
the game that can only be won.

Nocturne

     Give –
at the bending of the knee,
at the turning-down of the sheets,
at the folding of the hands in sleep –
    give, receive and rest.

    Give the day:
its unresolved agonies,
its fragments, its drafts
and all the things we’d best forget.
Give, and let it sleep.

    Receive:
the table lies open.
Feast as the night declares:
Sufficient to itself the burdens
and stresses of the morn.

    So rest:
the creek bids you lap, unweary.
Your enemies will not dare come
within an inch of where you lie.
The night is now your friend.

    And watch:
in tender mercy,
the dawn from on high
will break in fold of light and bring
new truth to bear on all.

Psalm 131: Humility and Submission

"Le Sommeil" by Alphonse Eugène Félix Lecadre vintageprintable.com
“Le Sommeil” by Alphonse Eugène Félix Lecadre
vintageprintable.com

Yesterday I posted a poem based on the beautiful Psalm 131. It is one of the shortest psalms in the Bible, yet one which I have found particularly comforting at times of emotional and psychological distress. Today I am posting a recording I have made of a new musical setting of Isaac Watts’ hymn based on the same psalm. Here are the words to Watts’ hymn so that you can read them along with the recording. May it be a reminder of the stillness that we can have in the arms of an infinitely loving God.

Is there ambition in my heart?.
Search, gracious God, and see;
Or do I act a haughty part?
Lord, I appeal to thee.
I charge my thoughts, be humble still,
And all my carriage mild,
Content, my Father, with thy will,
And quiet as a child.
The patient soul, the lowly mind,
Shall have a large reward:
Let saints in sorrow lie resigned,
And trust a faithful Lord.

(Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts)