A garden is not made overnight.
There are the thankless tasks to do,
Little by little
Planting and pruning and sweeping and plucking and digging
Watering and supporting
Pointing towards the light.
And then there is so much waiting
Just stepping back and letting your creation grow, change and get on with its living
And then 10 times out of 10 it dies anyway.
What was the point?
That’s I bet what Mary thought
Both the one who grew the seed and the one who by the fruit was drawn.
The former saw her treasured sappling snapped;
Felt a stake through her heart.
The latter wept at the waste
Of a life force that had sought her
Under whose leaves she sheltered
And who gave her a reason to go on.
Some say there is a conspiracy
That Mary carried his seed
And in a way they are right.
Not of his flesh but news
A rumour more persistent than a weed
and a hundred times harder to kill.
That somehow the Gardener lives.
They tried to kill us, Mary
But they didn’t know you were a seed
And today I’m restarting my Garden.
*Sometimes suffering teaches you to live
I said to God
Give me the gift of prophecy.
I wanna prophesy.
(That sounds cool)
And then I get to be right.
You wanna be a prophet?
You can be a prophet.
Off you go.
Dream dreams. See wrongdoings.
Get mad at injustice and do crazy things.
Fall in love… With those who don’t reciprocate
Who disregard or exploit your affection
and cause you unrevealed depths of pain.
That is what it means to be prophetic.
It’s not about crystal balls
unless you mean in terms of courage
It’s being deliberately impolite
a deliverer of uncomfortable truths
and it’s certainly not glamorous.
But when you get fed up
what happened to Nineveh
even contrary to your expectations.
I look down at the stars on my jumper
as I sigh
And I think of those Peruvian skies
Just northeast of Huánuco.
The entire sky was sprinkled with silver
Like molten metal dripping through a colander –
And yet you promised Abram that many children.
I run my fingers through my hair
as I try
to grasp that what I am reading is happening.
It grows back in patches where I’ve stress-pulled it,
kinking awkwardly beneath my curls –
And yet you know every strand.
I scale down my hopes and dreams
as I cry
at the million ways this world is dying and unkind
and really wonder how I’ll keep going
when the going is so bloody tough.
And yet you gave me my life and have kept me growing.
God the stranger who makes his home with us –
Help us keep on loving
and come quickly, Lord Jesus.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest…
– Isaiah 9:2-3 (NIV)
Bare birches stand out like
Anorexic zebras on a savannah
Just outside Sunningdale…
And I am thinking of you again.
The year is nearly ended;
The darkness has reached a zenith;
The world still reeling at such pain…
But I have started to sing again.
I hear soft playing in the evening
Like prayers coming out through a piano.
Our treasure we hide in our junk rooms…
And I have started to dream again.
People in this city can be terrible
Delaying confirmation for a better invitation
When you reach out to make connections…
Yet I have started to hope again.
‘As long as there are people…’
People kind like you,
I’ll believe in hope and fight for love:
For what I trust is true.
“As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbour, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘God is in the Manger’
In this video of a (very good) talk by theologian Paula Gooder about bodies and Christianity, Canon Mark Oakley summarises things nicely and poetically when he suggests that Jesus, in healing people, wanted to change people’s ‘full stops’ (e.g. bodily disability, mental ill-health, anything cutting them off from community and society) into commas – making them not the end of the story but a break, to allow them to start something new.
“It seems that Jesus spots a person’s hard little full stop…and he turns it into a comma, and there’s a new chapter.”
Jesus makes our full stops commas,
Bringing new life out of old.
Better, he writes semi colons;
longer stories can be told.
He can hear our exclamations:
understand our colon’s fear.
I myself continue mortal;
all the same the Lord is here.