Damascus 1

Conversion_on_the_Way_to_Damascus-Caravaggio_(c.1600-1)
Caravaggio, “Conversion on the way to Damascus” (c.1600-1601

Something ends here:
paused mid-threat, flung groundward,
the man called Saul can breathe no more murder
while the horse kicks up its hooves and he points
his arms half-desperate at heaven.

Something begins here
yet it looks altogether like dying:
the fall, the pervasive dark,
the eyes failing to see, and yet
the spirit cognisant like never before.

I will show him how much he must suffer.
All this awaits, after the falling of scales;
now is the dying; the blindness preceding sight.
Must resurrection look like this?
With groans of creation, Saul will rise,
and Paul will live anew.

Chiaroscuro

unnamed
Caravaggio, “The Supper at Emmaus”, c.1606

To Cleopas and his friend,
the revelation and its impact no doubt stuck.
Their paradigm, irremediably shifted, could hardly go back.
Such things as resurrections we don’t
forget in any hurry.

Yet for those serving at table, I wonder:
did the light dawn so quickly, so decisively?
More or less a normal night’s work,
and that constant attempt not to eavesdrop
or at least not be seen doing so.

And then, some vague but growing sense
that here was a light altogether different in quality,
such that everything else was jet in the background,
that here was a customer who transformed the meals he ate
and left behind more than he took.

Perhaps, on the table,
after he left, as though spirited away,
in place of the customary tip a piece
of bread leftover, and a cup of wine,
and with the skeleton of the fish course lingering on the plate,
a parchment asking silently,
“Shall these dry bones live?”

Open

And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.
(Luke 1:64)

No good unless used for you:
only death, only a swallowing tomb.
No sweet grapes from a rotten vine;
no figs budding from a cursed tree.
When speaking, we curse; when silent, bones waste…
Until the words, He is risen. Why seek
the living among these yawning tombs?
Run. Tell the mourners.
Doubt has died.
This tongue has life to speak.

Catechism 50

image

What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?
Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.
(New City Catechism)

And so, like the first fruits, He shows us what will be,
like the early fig I saw when winter had ravaged the tree:
hopeful, I return every day, expectant of the taste.
So it is for the spirit.

Sometimes its workings are invisible
yet it is firm, this life which grabs you, arrests you.
Step out and see. Today is not like that first garden.
That day we clutched onto life that was not ours
This will not end. Though it linger, wait.

First you ate the fruit of death; now life’s fruit is on the tree.
You sow each day; tomorrow, reap
what life or death may bring.

Break O’Day

Written Easter Sunday in Pyengana, Tasmania
Dedicated to the people of Break O’Day Parish, St Helens

Drink from the brook. The day sparkles the hills in their joy.
Look to the mountains: there comes your help.
Springing forth from caves with rolled-away stones
breaks the day, breaks the day.
Singing in haze, this resurrection joy
breaks away the old death;
drink the life.

image

Expectation (The Cornucopia of Heaven)

Resurrection

Expectation

After J.S. Bach, “Mass in B Minor: Et Expecto Resurrectionem”

 

We              begin           small:
a kernel        dropping        to soil
a weak          and fickle      seed
a broken        passing         moment
                                      dust
                         expectantly,
                                  expectant…
of what           breaks forth
                              in trumpet-shower,
            in polyphonic spring,
                        in vibrant alleluia
                            voices thrumming, harmony
                                     bursting
                  from these broken chords
                        in joy!
           What we sow now,    broken,
                        soon we reap
                in harvest plenty,
                        singing where
                            our tears once fell:
            Alleluia!
                        Alleluia!
                                    Alleluia!                   Expectantly.

Imago: For David Malouf

Who knows by what mysterious means the body moves to its ends?
(David Malouf, An Imaginary Life)

Half right, Ovid: we metamorphose, yet
Not so wildly. There are leaps which we may
Never take, gates which bar the backwards way.
Infinitesimal, our movements, but breath
Charges with possibility each step.
We perish like beasts, to the same dust as they;
Yet chasms stand between us. We contain
More than flesh, though spirit’s shackled by debt.
Is this our freedom: that in dying we fly?
Or that we throw off the deadweight of skins?
Such thoughts become not poetry, Ovid.
Look to the kernel, dying in a field;
The body will know healing from these sins,
Glorious, in the twinkling of an eye.