Lent: The Wait, the Weight 1

Waves drag, anchor fails –
my God my God why

In this torpor, what lifts?
The heart, bird-like, hovers –
an albatross, a vulture?
Yet a dove dives deep and holds;
it coos what cannot be cried.

My God my God why
– too heavy for words, yet hands can be raised,
barely, above the waves.
This is enough. Moan, wail, cry.
Words are not needed where the Spirit has flight.

Trust, and open your drowning arms.

Lent: Man of Sorrows 5

I cannot stop the tide of life:
                                       it moves
at speeds I cannot calculate;
                                            it twists
and turns and undulates. It thwarts
my best paid plans, my stern-set goals.
         Nothing in
this life bends to my will;
my trunk is buffeted too bluntly by these waves;
my fists smart from clenching at the sea.
                O take me –
      too sure of my own currents, too
   accustomed to storms – take
my drifting self-assurance; pilot
headlong all my debris and
    the flotsam, jetsam of my days
        into Your streams of praise.

Luke 1: Zechariah and Mary

Portrait de Zacharie et d'Elisabeth - James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, Wikimedia Commons)
Portrait de Zacharie et d’Elisabeth – James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, Wikimedia Commons)
No surprise, perhaps,
    that the impossible’s not
a boundary    for the one who lit stars
and sculpted the mountains,           watered –
drew water from –    our rock.

Yet unexpected now, this figure
in temple,       in dreams,
beholding and saying
what’s seldom been said, more seldom believed:

The barren with child?
     A new way prepared?
        The virgin a mother?
           The hearts of the parents
                turned to their children,
        and souls taught to thirst after justice?

Behold –
these microscopic miracles of everyday grace:
Life folded in             zygotic life,
            faith found in anguish,
the courage of obedience,
speechlessness turned
to vocal trust,

     all caught up in
the moment of saying,
       “I am His servant.
    Let it be so with me.”

Fourth Candle: Advent is Trusting

image

See clockwise how the candle-steps arise,
New wick ablaze as old wicks stand beside.
Some rise in hope with freshness in their eyes,
Some simply stand; His Nonetheless abides
In hearts that quicken, hearts of smouldering wick.
Though Zion is not tall, though nations scoff,
The small, the humble, now are tall. Come quick!
The way’s made plain, though faint, though still far off.
Come, come: let’s walk. His house beckons us in,
And joyful songs may fill our hearts today.
The hope is sure, though hope sometimes burns dim;
A beacon star still flicks to show the way.
Advent arises; knees unbend to find
This God-with-us, this brother of mankind.

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)

Lent 40: Palm Sunday

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

 

This is the day that the Lord has made:

My soul is weary; my heart is faint.

 

This is the righteous gate of the Lord:

I hear the slander of many.

 

The Lord has done this;

it is marvellous to our eyes:

My life is consumed in anguish.

 

O Lord, save us. Grant us success:

My times, O God, are in Your hands.

 

Blessed is he who comes in the name –

To the Lord I lift my soul.