I pray today

Posted Leave a commentPosted in funeral, parish, poetry

A beautiful and powerful poem for the funeral of a daughter.

I Pray Today

I pray today
in all earnestness
with all my heart and soul
for those whose hands
have reared me
and held me close
for those who have caressed
and eased my pain
and borne the suffering with me;
for those whose hearts
have wept in grief
and yet
sung happy songs to me;
for those who show
the patience rare
and help me
to keep my cool;
for those who dwell in my bruised heart
and keep me wrapped
with the warmth of their love.
How can any harm
come to me,
when I am protected
with an armour of love?

Rev Paul Hockey

Wedding Prayer

Posted Leave a commentPosted in liturgy, parish, poetry

I was asked to include this wedding prayer in a forthcoming service, but I have declined because it merely repeats vows and prayers already said. It is lovely and profound because it echoes the lovely and profound things already covered in the Marriage service. I think it is a lovely prayer to treasure, and perhaps would like to encourage you to say together on your anniversary, to remind you of that vow and covenant.

 

Lord, bless our love;
Bless our promise
To have and to hold,
To love and to cherish
Each day and always.

Protect our marriage,
And keep us faithful,
So we can support and
Encourage one another
In sorrow and in joy.

Watch over our lives,
Over our home, over our family
Over our hopes and dreams.

We give you thanks
That you make us one
In a bond of love so precious
That through it
We can know your love
Today and always.
Amen.

Divine Presence

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry, teaching

 

When did God become fully human?
When an egg was fertilised?
When cells divided?
When Mary felt her first kick?
When Jesus took his first breath?

When did God become fully human?
When he entered the kingdom as a child?
When he chose to resist temptation?
When he fought, by not fighting back?
When he hung with us; for us?

Here is a gift of authentic hope: divine presence.

Amid the white noise of a world surfing the airwaves;
amid the narrow casts,
broadcasts and podcasts;
embedded in the WIFI and the 4G
the twitter feeds and the status updates;
up with the static and the crackle of interference
one simple signal still pulses from ages past, like a
heartbeat: Are you receiving me?
Are you receiving me?
Are you receiving me?

(not sure of the author, stolen from the 42Cdo Padre, Dec 2017)

Names – Wendy Cope

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry

She was Eliza for a few weeks
When she was a baby –
Eliza Lily. Soon it changed to Lil.

Later she was Miss Steward in the baker’s shop
And then ‘my love’, ‘my darling’, Mother.

Widowed at thirty, she went back to work
As Mrs Hand. Her daughter grew up,
Married and gave birth.

Now she was Nanna. ‘Everybody
Calls me nanna,’ she would say to visitors.
And so they did – friends, tradesmen, the doctor.

In the geriatric ward
They used the patients’ Christian names.
‘Lil,’ we said, ‘or Nanna,’
But it wasn’t in her file
And for those last bewildered weeks
She was Eliza once again.

UA Fanthorpe – Getting it across

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry, scripture, teaching

‘His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things.’

St. John 16:29-30

This is the hard thing.
Not being God, the Son of Man,
—I was born for that part—
But patiently incising on these yokel faces,
Mystified, bored and mortal,
The vital mnemonics they never remember.

There is enough of Man in my God
For me to construe their frowns. I feel
The jaw-cracking yawns they try to hide
When out I come with one of my old
Chestnuts. Christ! Not that bloody
Sower again, they are saying, or God!
Not the Prodigal fucking Son.
Give us a new one, for Messiah’s sake.

They know my unknowable parables as well
As each other’s shaggy dog stories.
I say! I say! I say! There was this Samaritan,
This Philistine and this Roman…or
What did the high priest say
To the belly dancer? All they need
Is the cue for laughs. My sheep and goats,
Virgins, pigs, figtrees, loaves and lepers
Confuse them. Fishing, whether for fish or men,
Has unfitted them for analogy.

Yet these are my mouths. Through them only
Can I speak with Augustine, Aquinas, Martin, Paul
Regius Professors of Divinity,
And you, and you.
How can I cram the sense of Heaven’s kingdom
Into our pidgin-Aramaic quayside jargon?

I envy Moses, who could choose
The diuturnity of stone for waymarks
Between man and Me. He broke the tablets,
Of course. I too know the easy messages
Are the ones not worth transmitting;
But he could at least carve.
The prophets too, however luckless
Their lives and instructions, inscribed on wood,
Papyrus, walls, their jaundiced oracles.

I alone must write on flesh. Not even
The congenial face of my Baptist cousin,
My crooked affinity Judas, who understands,
Men who would give me accurately to the unborn
As if I were something simple, like bread.
But Pete, with his headband stuffed with fishhooks,
His gift for rushing in where angels wouldn’t,
Tom, for whom metaphor is anathema,
And James and John, who want the room at the top—
These numskulls are my medium. I called them.

I am tattooing God on their makeshift lives.
My Keystone Cops of disciples, always,
Running absurdly away, or lying ineptly,
Cutting off ears and falling into the water,
These Sancho Panzas must tread my Quixote life,
Dying ridiculous and undignified,
Flayed and stoned and crucified upside down.
They are the dear, the human, the dense, for whom
My message is. That might, had I not touched them,
Have died decent respectable upright deaths in bed.

Just A Common Sailor

Posted Leave a commentPosted in parish, poetry
by Anon (brought to my attention by Fr Andy, with much thanks and condolences)

He was getting old and paunchy, and his hair was falling fast,
He sat around the table telling stories of the past,
Of a war that he had fought in, and the deeds that he had done,
Of his exploits with his oppo’s, they were heroes every one.

And tho’ sometimes to his family his tales became a joke,
His wife she listened carefully, for she knew of what he spoke.
But we will hear those tales no longer for [name’s passed away,
And the worlds a little poorer for a sailor died today,

He’ll not be mourned by many, Just his family and his friends.
For he lived a ordinary, quiet , life. until the very end.
He worked to raise his family, till to old to earn his pay,
No the world won’t know his passing, tho’ a sailor died today.

When politicians leave this earth their bodies lie in state
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that were great.
The papers tell their histories from the time when they were young,
But the passing of a sailor goes unnoticed, go unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
Someone who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary sailor who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Jacks of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a sailor, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common sailor and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the sailors part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,

Our Country is in mourning, for a sailor died today.

A poem for Dzhokar

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry

you don’t know how it felt to be in the womb but it must have been at least a little warmer than this.

you don’t know how intimately they’re recording your every move on closed-circuit cameras until you see your face reflected back at you through through the pulp.

you don’t know how to stop picking at your fingers.

you don’t know how little you’ve been paying attention until you look down at your legs again.

you don’t know how many times you can say you’re coming until they just stop believing you.

you don’t know how orgasmic the act of taking in a lungful of oxygen is until they hold your head under the water.

you don’t know how many vietnamese soft rolls to order.

you don’t know how convinced your parents were that having children would be, absolutely, without question, the correct thing to do.

you don’t know how precious your iphone battery time was until you’re hiding in the bottom of the boat.

you don’t know how to get away from your fucking parents.

you don’t know how it’s possible to feel total compassion in one moment and total disconnection in the next moment.

you don’t know how things could change so incredibly fast.

you don’t know how to make something, but the instructions are on the internet.

you don’t know how to make sense of this massive parade.

you don’t know how to believe anyone anymore.

you don’t know how to tell the girl in the chair next to you that you’ve been peeking at her dissertation draft and there’s a grammatical typo in the actual file name.

you don’t know how to explain yourself.

you don’t want two percent but it’s all they have.

you don’t know how claustrophobic your house is until you can’t leave it.

you don’t know why you let that guy go without shooting him dead and stuffing him in some bushes between cambridge and watertown.

you don’t know where your friends went.

you don’t know how to dance but you give it a shot anyway.

you don’t know how your life managed to move twenty six miles forward and twenty eight miles back.

you don’t know how to pay your debts.

you don’t know how to separate from this partnership to escape and finally breathe.

you don’t know how come people run their goddamn knees into the ground anyway.

you don’t know how to measure the value of the twenty dollar bill clutched in your hurting hand.

you don’t know how you walked into this trap so obliviously.

you don’t know how to adjust the rearview mirror.

you don’t know how to mourn your dead brother.

you don’t know how to drive this car.

you don’t know the way to new york.

you don’t know the way to new york.

you don’t know the way to new york.

you don’t know the way to new york.

 

Amanda F. Palmer

This beautiful, complex, anguished poem was written in response to the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013. The reaction of the Internet was one of outrage, many people saw it as an apology for the terrorism. I don’t see that at all in this. There is no apology for the perpetrators of terrible acts, but rather an anguish of humanity, a cry of empathy and a reaction to senseless violence committed by all kinds. It is a beautiful work. It should be treasured.

Journey of the Magi – TS Eliot

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

TS Eliot

If Jesus was born today…

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry, scripture, teaching

A poem by Steve Turner

If Jesus was born today

If Jesus was born today
it would be in a downtown motel
marked by a helicopter’s flashing bulb.
A traffic warden, working late,
would be the first upon the scene.
Later, at the expense of a TV network,
an eminent sociologist,
the host of a chat show
and a controversial author
would arrive with their good wishes
-the whole occasion to be filmed as part of the
‘Is This The Son Of God?’ one hour special.
Childhood would be a blur of photographs and speculation
dwindling by his late teens into
‘Where Is He Now?’ features in Sunday magazines.

If Jesus was thirty today
they wouldn’t really care about the public ministry,
they’d be too busy investigating His finances
and trying to prove He had Church or Mafia connections.
The miracles would be explained by
an eminent and controversial magician,
His claims to be God’s Son recognised as
excellent examples of Spoken English
and immediately incorporated into
the O-Level syllabus,
His sinless perfection considered by moral philosophers
as, OK, but a bit repressive.

If Jesus was thirty-one today
He’d be the fly in everyone’s ointment-
the sort of controversial person who
stands no chance of eminence.
Communists would expel Him, capitalists
would exploit Him or have Him
smeared by people who know a thing or two about God.
Doctors would accuse Him of quackery,
soldiers would accuse Him of cowardice,
theologians would take Him aside and try
to persuade Him of His non-existence.

If Jesus was thirty-two today we’d have to
end it all. Heretic, fundamentalist, literalist,
puritan, pacifist, non-conformist, we’d take Him
away and quietly end the argument.
But the argument would rumble in the ground
at the end of three days and would break out
and walk around as though death was some bug,
saying ‘I am the resurrection and the life…
No man cometh to the Father but by me’.
While the magicians researched new explanations
and the semanticists wondered exactly what
He meant by ‘I’ and ‘No man’ there would be those
who stand around amused, asking for something
called proof.

 

Steve Turner

"Please de-baptise me"

Posted 1 CommentPosted in parish, poetry, sacraments

“Please de-baptize me,” she said.
The priest’s face crumpled.
“My parents tell me you did it,” she said.
“But I was not consulted. So
Now, undo it.”
The priest’s eyes asked why.
“If it were just about belonging to
This religion and being forgiven,
Then I would stay. If it were just
About believing
This list of doctrines and upholding
This list of rituals,
I’d be OK. But
Your sermon Sunday made
It clear it’s
About more. More
Than I bargained for. So, please,
De-baptize me.”
The priest looked down, said
Nothing. She continued:
“You said baptism sends
Me into the
World to
Love enemies. I don’t. Nor
Do I plan to. You said it means
Being willing to stand
Against the flow. I like the flow.
You described it like rethinking
Everything, like joining a
Movement. But
I’m not rethinking or moving anywhere.
So un-baptize me. Please.”
The priest began to weep. Soon
Great sobs rose from his deepest heart.
He took off his glasses, blew his nose, took
Three tissues to dry his eyes.
“These are tears of joy,” he said.
“I think you
Are the first person who ever
Truly listened or understood.”
“So,” she said,
“Will you? Please?”

Brian McLaren

“The six most important decisions you will ever make, for yourself or on behalf of a little one” I tell them. I mean it. The baptism of my own son was my conversion. “Blimey, I believe this” I thought, and you can’t just ignore that revelation. Now look, see how much of a sense of humour He has…