20 Contemplations #19: Sleep, Wake

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Anselm Kiefer, “Falling Stars”

I slept, but my heart was awake.
A sound! My beloved is knocking…
(Song of Solomon 5:2a)

The world sleeps, but still some wise men gaze out
unto the beckoning sky, and some
still wake to hear the door pounding, night humm-
ing in active grace of years. No doubt,
the gentleness of the stars will not shout,
yet the song of the angels ever thrums,
always beauty, until mortals must come
to the end of ourselves, our hearts, our mouths…
Lie awake, lie empty. You long because
that which you long for cannot be grasped:
not now, not while this perishable stuff
can only defer your hopes, caught in chaff.
Lie awake, lie longing. Dwell in the pause
between the now and not yet. Never lapse.

20 Contemplations #8: The Heights

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Marc Chagall, Detail from "Starry Night", stained glass

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
(Psalm 148:3)

Though He is lowly, they recognise Him,
For He commanded and they were made.
As they burn, they can still hear the hymn
He sung to create them at the Father’s side.
One is elected to proclaim, yet choirs
Sing to herald Him, silently glistening.
The night is coming; if mankind enquires,
What child is this? the host will be listening,
Ready to answer with all heaven’s angels:
Gloria! Gloria! Yet where are they now?
The kings to bow down, the dancers and timbrels?
Herod searches, yet breathes a fuming vow.
But if people ignore Him, rocks will cry out;
Now heavenly fires sparkle and shout…

20 Contemplations #2: The Colour of Light

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He also made the stars.
(Genesis 1:16)

No twinkle. This is something terrible:
Flaming gas, explosive with bright thunder.
Scan the night sky, make a wish and wonder;
Yet it can destroy galaxies at will.
At will, He directs it. See it twinkle
Before Him, docile, obedient under
His hand. It knows His voice which flung unto
The farthest reaches, blazing, blazing, until –

He beckons in; He ushers out. All time
Is planned, is held in hand. And now He holds
That star – yes, that resplendent ball of flame,
From countless blazing sentries known by name,
From centuries, millennia untold,
And places it just so within His rhyme.

No turning

I dreamt a ferryboat dream where,
crossing some unknown stretch of deep,
we struck another time and you
were lost into the depths of There,
and, Orpheus, I wandered far
where loss and past commingled in
faint glimpses of your head – behind
only, never quite your face.
And when re-united, by those turns
that dreams sometimes have when full known,
I wondered where within the tale
we stood – if I had turned behind
and lost you, only now to have
you back again, in some sweet form
of ancient woe retold with joy,
or if the worst was yet to be.
All dreams will pass, and I awoke,
the ferry gone, and all of our
dark passings-by now still.
And in the stasis of the night,
I looked up to the ceiling, through
the roof, to stars – white-bright, though dead –
and still were all night’s ferryboats;
no shadow turned, or clung onto
the glimpse of dreams to be.

Astronomy

"Kepler-452b artist concept" by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle - http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/soaking-up-the-rays-of-a-sun-like-star-artistic-concept.
“Kepler-452b artist concept” by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle – http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/soaking-up-the-rays-of-a-sun-like-star-artistic-concept.

…the dread of something after death –
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns – puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of…
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

What dreams may come when we set out for stars?
What will we find when, solar systems pierced,
We gaze beyond the reach of looking-glass?
That our Sun has a cousin much more fierce?
That Pluto’s a planet after all? That we
Are not alone? That man’s an errant knave?
That, mirrored in Kepler 452b,
We see our fate: as rock without any wave?
Still, wave; don’t drown. Light millennia stand
Between us and our twin; no cheap flights
To suss out greener grasses. Best-laid plans
Must prove themselves or else be caught in light.
Hope makes a fool of missions to other spheres,
Always ready when true land appears.

Lent: New Song 1

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
      and praise
your morning Son,
your great Ancient of Days…

J.S. Bach: Motet BWV 225 ‘Singet dem Herrn’ – Vocalconsort Berlin

Confessional Hymn, After Gavin Bryars’ “Cadman Requiem” (Cornucopia of Heaven)

Pan-Am

 

Confessional Hymn

After Gavin Bryars, “Cadman Requiem”

 

We were not there when stars were flung
           wide, wide,     across the vast expanse.
We were not there when hearts were knit,
            when breath was breathed inside.

We were not there when plans were made,
            when laws      in hearts were broken.
Yet we were there to feel death’s sting
            and feel          the plan’s undoing.

We were there when sparks flew up
            and fire scorned        the fickle ground,
when sound was lost and wings spun out
            and everything          was falling.

Ours were hearts un-tuned to sounds
            of life             and perfect leading.
Ours were rebel schemes which blew
            the hope         out of the sky.

Though stars may fail and hearts implode:
            still, still          Creator God, uphold.
        O kyrie  eleison,                Christ –

            have mercy    on us all.