The Christian Plummet

After Prayer Book CoverDown into the icy depths you plunge,
The cold dark undertow of your depression,
Even your memories of light made strange,
As you fall further from all comprehension.
You feel as though they’ve thrown you overboard,
Your fellow Christians on the sunlit deck,
A stone-cold Jonah on whom scorn is poured,
A sacrifice to save them from the wreck.

But someone has their hands on your long line,
You sound for them the depths they sail above,
One who takes Jonah as his only sign
Sinks lower still to hold you in his love,
And though you cannot see, or speak, or breathe,
The everlasting arms are underneath.

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Heart In Pilgrimage

After Prayer Book CoverI start with Dante in a darkened wood
Well past the middle of my mazy way,
My beating heart sustains this flesh and blood,

A sounding drum that will not let me stay
Stuck in the sluggishness of middle age.
For here are April showers and a new day,

As Chaucer joins me in my pilgrimage;
The mottled glory of his company,
With all their tales to tell, gives me new courage.

And now a Bedford tinker comes to me
And sings: Here little, and hereafter bliss,
Death where’s thy sting, where grave thy victory?

So, pilgrim heart, keep beating, fierce and free,
Your last beat brings me where I long to be.

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The Soul in Paraphrase

After Prayer Book CoverA fledgling hidden in an ancient tree,
Singing unseen and darkling to the stars,
The fount and spring of meaning, just upstream
Of every utterance, unsullied, free,
A prisoner who grips and bends her bars,
The one who begs to differ, dares to dream,
A child astray, still calling to your heart,
A pattern, personal as all the swirls
In fingerprints on hands that hands have held,
Wholeness that knows itself within each part,
A flag whose emblem every breath unfurls,
A chasm bridged, and an old heartache healed,
A new day at the end of all your days,
A mystery you’ll never paraphrase.

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God’s Breath in Man Returning to his Birth


Breathe in and in that breathing be created,
Wake from the dust, be conscious, and inhale,
Fresh from the Word and Light of God, delighted,
You find you have become a living soul.
But soon you must breathe out. What’s to be done?
Who will be with you then? And will you dare
To trust the breath of life back to the one
Who breathed it into you? Christ comes to share
Your letting go; you hear him sigh and say
Father into your hands receive my spirit
And find that he has opened up the way
For you as well. He takes your breath to bear it
Deep into heaven with him in his death,
That you might be reborn with every breath.

 

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Angel’s Age

How might my prayer partake the angels’ age
Theirs is no age at all, but all in one;
My moments pass, as steps in pilgrimage,
But they begin where my dark journey’s done.
They see all things at once: each point in time
For them is radiant with eternity.
Mine are the twists and turns, the long road home,
Theirs is the over-view, and flying free
They brush me with their feathers, with the rumour
Of their flight, and something in me sings
Into their passing light, till my prayer-murmur,
Circled in the slipstream of their wings,
Is lifted up in grace to join with theirs,
Who sing a Sanctus into all our prayers.

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The Church’s Banquet

Not some strict modicum, exact allowance,
Precise prescription, rigid regimen,
But beauty and gratuitous abundance,
Capacious grace, beyond comparison.
Not something hasty, always snatched alone;
Junkets of junk food, fuelling our dis-ease,
Not little snacklets eaten on the run,
But peace and plenty, taken at our ease.
Not to be worked for, not another task,
But love that’s lavished on us, full and free,
Course after course of hospitality,
And rich wine flowing from an unstopped flask.
He paid the price before we reached the inn,
And all He asks of us is to begin.

 

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