Our Monk

For fifty years
the arm has rested
that grasped the pen
once so prolific
but now,
with in stagnant.
No new thoughts are born
that once tumbled so freely
from gargantuan intellect.
The heart that swelled
so large
to embrace the world
beyond the cloister, beyond the border
beats no more.
And yet,
the truth echoes
down the ages
attracting seeking souls,
drawing them in.
They meet
in recognition that this man
this contradictory,
rebellious spirt,
still speaks
not through dusty tomes
or time aged papers
but through simple truth
of prayer, of love, of God.
The poet, the prophet,
the universal monk.

SJMC+
(Written: 13.VI.18)

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Lourdes

 

Crude cavern,
stone worn smooth
by a million pilgrim fingers,
groping in the dark,
reaching for the divine.
Illuminated lady
shines forth
from pitch black,
hands clasped in prayer
that innocent eyes,
eagerly seeking Him,
may emulate her.
Her piety,
her devotion.
May we, with
the thousands of beating hearts,
racing to reach eternity,
be endowed
with even a fraction
of the love she has
for Him,
for her Son, her Saviour.
When words fail
through pain or complacency,
her whispered prayers
for the banished children of Eve
reach His ear
and warm His heart.

SJMC+
(Written: 22.V.18)

Good morning, Good Friday

The day dawned
but darkly.
As though struggling
to cut through the darkness
that descended the night before.
The darkness of betrayal,
that evening the light went out.

As Truth falls
into the barbaric grip
of those who would distort it,
disfigured with each lash,
each blow, each word.

Condemned as a criminal
for daring,
daring to oppose misplaced power,
and for the challenge
of privilege.
Evidence by their response
far easier to murder another
than to sacrifice oneself.

And yet.

In response,
in perfect response
He shall say
‘Father, forgive’.

And to us,
who profess to follow,
who claim Him
as our own.
‘Love one another,
as I have loved you’
Even unto death.

SJMC+
(Written: 30.III.18)

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

I – Pilate condemns Jesus to die.

What is truth? he asked
and yet he could not see
that truth stood before him
Son of man, God incarnate
the most complex question
with the most simple answer
The baying of the crowd
the fear of loss, preservation
of his rank and station
sends another man to his death
almost nonchalant
like he has so many times before
yet with one striking difference
this man, this quiet, unassuming man
is not just free of any crime
but innocence personified.

II – Jesus accepts His cross

Wood on flesh.
Rough grain drags over
already tarnished skin.
He who was there
As words were whispered
over the deep, in the beginning
in the darkness of creation
now looks small
beneath the heavy tree
of His own making.
It is not just the wood
that weighs Him down
but me, and all that I have done,
He takes up His cross
And mine

III – Jesus Falls for the first time.

My Lord,
My God,
knees bent and legs buckled
under the weight of the wood
and my own transgression.
He, who with a word
brought all we see into being,
He, who with his breath,
sustains all life.
But He falls,
not because He is weak,
not because He cannot,
but because He is humble
and He is love
and He knows, if it is not Him
it will be me.

IV – Jesus meets his mother

With arms outstretched,
fingers curled,
toward the boy she knew.
Now a man
beaten and bloodied
pulled from her grasp,
ripped away from the bosom
that once cradled Him,
swaddled,
vulnerable and small
her tears match His
a mothers nightmare
to see her son so
and yet, powerless to help.
A mothers love
carries Him on.

V – Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

The pressed man,
the passing stranger,
the secret follower
clutches the wood that
the Saviour carries.
Their eyes meet
he speaks, as if to apologise
for his part, his sin,
his cowardice.
The silent, knowing reply
that says Our Lord
has already forgiven.
This momentary relief
allows Him to steady,
to carry the world
upon His shoulders
once more.

VI – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

A courageous woman
overwhelmed
with compassion, with love
compelled to act
presses through the line,
past the iron clad soldiers
supervising state ordered murder.
Unveiling her head
ignoring shouts for modesty
to relieve the shame
far greater than her own
of an innocent man, condemned.
The sweat, blood and spittle
that marred His face
casts His visage on her scarf.
A relic of mercy.

VII – Jesus falls for the second time

My Lord,
My God,
those bent knees
and buckled legs
now give way again.
It is as though the sand
reaches up
grabs his robe
and pulls Him down.
Pressed upon the stones,
hauled over the grit
that finds every open wound,
every sore, every bleeding crack
and reminds Him,
viscerally,
of that inner pain.
Beaten again by guards
who see only the cross
and know not what
He truly carries.

VIII – Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

They gather on the sidelines
they weep, they wail
but this is more
than cultural conformity.
They gather around His mother
and weep for her,
with her.
Witnesses to unspeakable horror.
Yet they do not flee
but draw closer
not to gawp at His broken body
unable to be balm
for those wounds
but offering more,
a dignified solidarity,
a recognition
of innocence stolen.
That paradox,
snatched but offered
by all, for all.

IX – Jesus falls for the third time.

My Lord,
My God,
not just a stumble,
not a momentary pause.
Exhaustion grips
His now wretched form.
Skin retreats further
from the wounds
that are cut deeply
into frail flesh.
Like marks made
by a mason
hewn in rock
as a monument
to suffering.
Shoulder wrenched,
dragged to His feet,
soldiers battle the ground
that draws Him to itself.
Limp between two forces
the cross now a scaffold
to keep Him alive,
just long enough to die.

X – Jesus is stripped of his clothes

His final footstep
as He reaches the summit.
And now,
the pinnacle of His shame
as the once seamless robe,
now ripped and ragged,
that barely covered His body
is pulled from Him
and cast aside.
He stands, barely
and barely stands
as those would be grave robbers
cast lots before He’s dead.
Celebrating their success
and triumph
as those that pass spit
or shake their heads
or jeer and mock.
They have taken it from Him
His attire, His dignity,
His life.

XI- Jesus is nailed to the cross

Pushed upon it,
that cross He carried.
Arms pulled, legs restrained.
Not that He can struggle,
strength depleted,
robbed by the death march
diminished by the taunts
stolen by the burden.
Gnarled hands are opened
fingers held back
the sharp tip scratches
a hint of all that follows.
The glint of light
hits the hammer head
as it gathers force,
strikes the nail
and pins Him
painfully to the tree.
The scream is just as piercing
agony and blood flow.
Some fall silent,
conscience pricked,
others cheer
rebellion suppressed.

XII – Jesus dies on the cross

Hoisted aloft.
Those three pins
through flesh, and bone,
carry the weight.
Crimson tears drop
falling in unison
with His mothers tears
with His brothers anguish.
Eyes aloft, He gasps,
barely breath to speak.
Behold your mother
His final act,
places His mother in John’s care
It is finished.
Those eyes close,
as the sky darkens.
It is not finished,
it has only just begun.

XIII – Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Chin on chest,
no longer moving.
Suspicious soldier,
holds his spear aloft,
thrusting callously
into His side.
Water.
Blood.
Those liquid life forces
spatter the earth below.
A hasty death confirmed.
Cross cut down,
its purpose served,
hands, feet,
pulled from nails,
pop free.
The corpse,
now lifeless,
is wrapped.
Dignity protected,
far too late,
as He returns to the ground.

XIV – Jesus is placed in the tomb.

Incoming Sabbath
prepared celebration.
His panicked followers
weep through practicalities.
A borrowed tomb
clean, fresh
a place of final rest.
If only they knew,
if only they could believe.
Spices, oils, balm,
crisp linen.
Cherished body,
lovingly cradled.
But they must let Him go.
Enormous stone, heaved,
rolled into place.
The final shafts of light,
banished from that body.
The final waft of outside air
stilled and stifled.
Desolation reigns
the forlorn retreat
unnerved, unknowing.
’til divine light dawns.

SJMC+
Written: 27th-28th Feb & 1st-2nd March 2018

In the Mourning

A solitary drop of rain
as if the heavens know
of the impending tears.
The wind whips across
the frontage of the edifice
of man, for God.
Those gathered,
huddled,
grip jackets, scarves,
clinging to warmth
mirroring the life they wish
they could tightly grasp.
The stoic priest
stands sentinel,
silently whispering internal prayers,
steeling himself to carry
what they cannot hold alone.
Black carriage creeps into view,
unnaturally slow,
toward the moment that
no one wants to acknowledge.
The toll of the bell
signals that this,
this is the end of the beginning.
Head inclined between the father
and the custodian of the deceased.
They turn and enter.
The Church.
The throne room.
The embrace of the Almighty.

SJMC+
(Written: 24.I.18)

Shots in the desert

Curled, on one side
sleep alludes me.
Huddled against artificial cold,
the tick of the clock,
a monstrous metronome
reminding me
that sleep, I cannot.
Prayers and good wishes
rises ceaselessly
‘Get well Father’,
‘Sorry you are ill’
resounding
in my self indulgent sickbed
but it is not feverish dreams
that trouble my aching mind
but a gunshot
three thousand miles away.
I cannot hear it
with ear, or newspaper
But I can feel it
as it rips through
the fractured, manmade communion.
Enduring by baptism.
They lay upon their side
curled, eternal rest now theirs,
huddled around Christ
a premature martyrdom.
The tick of the clock
a reminder
that in the West
They lay forgotten.
The Copts. Again.

 

SJMC+
(Written: 29.XII.17)

Holy Innocents

A desperate order
to cling
to vassal power.
To preserve
a reputation
build on shifting sand.
A hand waved, dismissively.
A page signed, hastily.
No less than murder
at the command
of a king.
To open the door
to death,
offering the innocent
in tribute,
that the scythe
might not swing upon him
for a season.
Yet it comes
with judgement
for those deeds.
So amidst the crying
of little lives,
potential, barely recognised
the Holy Family flee.
Sacrifice made
in deed, not will
speeds them safely.
Those children
now born by angels wings
to Eden.

SJMC+
(Written: 28.XII.17)

O Emmanuel

Emptiness,
the forced occupation
of the barren soul.
The river beds,
empty, cracked.
Once lush landscape
gives way to tundra.
The unimaginable darkness,
hostile to sunlight,
gives no warmth,
a long season
of desolation.
the beating heart
of creation, slows,
flatlines, ceased.
But this, this
is not death,
the despair of hopelessness,
this is the darkness
before the dawn.
Mountains shake,
the river beds swell,
The Water of Life begins
to bubble beneath the surface.
Clouds burst,
fresh rain of hope
spatters thirsty ground.
The soul awakes,
eyes lifted
straining for the horizon,
Lo, He comes,
Our God,
Emmanuel

SJMC+
(Written:23.XII.17)

O Rex Gentium

Eternal monarch
whose birth binds nations
drawing mankind to Himself.
Angels in bright array
singing of His glory,
announce salvation
to His fallen creatures.
Beings of dust
elevated to the highest realm
to enter the throne room.
From that child’s first breath
humanity is fulfilled
responding to
the Universal King.
His cry
pieces the darkness
O King of nations,
Father of all,
who bestows true joy
to mortal hearts.

SJMC+
(Written: 22.XII.17)

 

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