Father’s face, etched with years,
set in a wistful look as he sinks back
into rich Oxblood chair
behind the deep mahogany, leather topped desk.
Hands curled, weather worn and frail
clutching at papers from the Bishop.
No longer ‘My Lord’ but simply John, or Jim or Jill,
the informality of friendship extended to all,
but to Father, a reminder,
they don’t know him.
Glossy documents and bright young things
and diocesan strategies in language unfathomable,
no matter how hard he might try.
When he does muster the resolve, to ask,
to seek counsel, it is returned.
A wry smile, a hand on his shoulder;
“I don’t need to explain to YOU Father,
with your many years.’
And he feels a fool,
not for Christ,
just a fool.
Parish boundary erosion, relief of the ‘burden’,
new Bishops Mission Order
‘to reach those not in church.’
He reads the words again,
so cold in black and white.
Isn’t that what he’s been doing
for forty years…
Father rises, as he always has
stepping from study to sacristy,
heaving open heavy oak to let sunlight in.
And that is where they find him,
kneeling, before the altar, when they come.
Knelt in prayer, as he always has,
knelt in prayer for his people.
Now no longer his.
Keys placed in outstretched palm.
Once his, given in full ritual,
retuned without ceremony.
Father arrived in a flurry of bright colour,
swelling organ, joyful voices.
Quietly he slips away, as the architect,
finds space for another new flat.