Rite of Passage

His Light Material

Rite of Passage (Durham 2017)

There are still some things only life can let you know

Time is a classroom with no conferring

In the cloisters, the ghosts of Celtic saints have worn the floor

Adulthood is the painful art of letting go

The bridge is a widened gate to self-improvement

To towers of learning established above the trees

Where centuries of earnest minds have pushed the doors

Time is a classroom with no conferring

Place is the settled form and bend in the river’s flow

Adulthood is the painful art of letting go

Rowers learnt to sculpt and steer the current’s turning

There are still some things only life can let you know.

The beech trees are shedding this year’s brittle mast

Striking the shaded paths around the river’s course

There are still some things only life can let you know

Love is the painful art of letting go.

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The Gardener

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.


If a tree falls, or Modern Existential Philosophy pt. I

If a brunch happens in a cafe

and nobody there Instagrams it

Did it really happen?


If your friendship is not enshrined online

alongside a line gushingly praising mine

are we even good friends?


If you ask me how my day was

standing unmoved, face downwards, tapping at your phone

would you notice if I said anything strange?


If I say I am a Christian

but in no way behave differently in public from any other Clapham yuppie

(bar maybe not sleeping with folks unmarried)

am I really a Christian?


If you claim to know Good News(TM)

that is life-giving and exciting

but you do not get round to telling anyone

as you are too busy socialising with others from your holy huddle

Is it really good news

and do I believe it?

If someone complains about a problem that threatens people’s lives

inattention to which is clearly selfish, but also easy and cheap,

and I decide to ignore and disregard it,

does the problem go away?


If a woman walked away from a church

and nobody paid any attention

was she ever there at all?


The Grenfell Tower Beatitudes

Just perfectly said and summing up my mood.

His Light Material

The Grenfell Tower BeatitudesIs this the moment? Is this the hour? When all our ungerminated seeds of justice flower?Is this the day our myopic consumer bubble finally bursts?Is this the moment the sublimated cry of those whose voiceIs stepped on, stopped up, silenced, sidelinedBreaks through and slakes its thirst? Might this be, for all its visceral, pain and lossAnd all its tears and grief and monumental human cost, All the hideous detailed traumatic tales and horror stories, All its blackened, choked up smoked infernoOf misery, cheap industry, colonial history, ignominy,All its horror at the thought of flames rising rapidly on those       who never had much choice, Might this be the moment where people of poverty, dignity       and community find our voice? And when we do – clearing our collective lungs, Coughing up the blackened phlegm, Crying past the…

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Manchester Monday

Just another

Manchester Monday.

Children with their families

enjoying themselves.


Just another

tragedy breaking.

Could be here or



Just another

mother mourning.

Broken hearts and

empty beds.


Just another

opportunity to reach out.

Go offer free lifts, blood,

holy hospitality.


Just another

reason for hatred.

But nothing ever changes

if you choose that.


Just another

explanation given.

But it’ll never make sense

whatever you say.


Just another

time for mourning.

Not a new thing

but still so raw.


Just another

Manchester Tuesday.

Today will be awful

but life WILL go on.

A veces sufrir te enseña vivir*

*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.



says God

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

remember, Jonah

what happened to Nineveh

even contrary to your expectations.

Ceasefire for the Sexes

I hate what we have become

Us siblings

Pitted against each other from puberty

Either divided and ruling

Or divisive and ruled.

Missing out on mutual flourishing

A destructive relationship

if ever there was one.


Men have blamed women always –

it was Adam’s second sin in the garden –

And then women were cursed to desire and resent them.

But we were (re)born to go beyond our ancestors

and to trust and understand what once they feared.


And we can fear to love because we think that love is unclean.

Yet surely it cannot be purity

When we distance those who give us life.

It insults the very Gospel

of the Son of Man who spent time with women

and looked to their souls not their sex.


I know of these things only partly

And often through a screen darkly, but

The way I’ve come to think is that

Sex should not be a battleground.

We are more united and

diversity is in high demand.

I don’t want to fight or fear my brothers

and we shouldn’t need to fear all attraction.


How I wish that sex would once again just mean


and not war.