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Songs of the Spirit





Linda Marshall



© Linda Marshall 23/10/2017













Contents

Part One Meditations on Life

Why?

The Seeker Asks

Inner Space

Fear and Trembling

The Caves of Old

A Journey through Life

The Seasons of Our Life

Verse and Freedom

Shadow and Light

Time the Puppet-Master

Remembering the foreign country of the past

Cloudy Imaginings

Fields of Dreams

Outsider

Ether the imaginary

The Universe

Part Two Meditations on Death and Eternity

All flesh is grass

Fields of Poppies

The Passing of a Great Soul: For Jim (Jumbo)

Elegy for Anna

My going

Love, death and the sea

A Prayer

The Purgatory Scam

The Love of God

Peace on Earth

Away in a Manger

The Birth of Our Lord

A Good Friday Reflection

What Easter means to me

For the Risen Christ

God's Saving Grace

The End of Days

Last Judgement

Thoughts on the Resurrection of the Dead







Why?

What, so many ask, is the meaning of life?
Why are we here at all?
Why do we continue to struggle
In spite of the certainty of failure?
Why do we even exist?
So many tell us the answers they prefer:
Priests, psychiatrists, teachers, politicians,
Even the poets and artists.
To ask these questions
Is I suppose human,
But only deluded fools
Expect an answer

The Seeker Asks

Is there an end

To all our journeying, making our way through life

As if in search of retribution,

The footsteps of time

Fading into the sand of our brief presence?

Here, back again

At the starting point of life

All our endeavours struggling into the light

Of the great darkness that contained us

And nourished us while we grew

All around

Sighs, tears and groans

Chisel away at the air

With their pent-up weather

Seeking release

Where is our direction

With the formerly fixed stars

Spinning and weaving

Like tops, heading inexorably

For a fall?

We remain turning

Endlessly on this insane roundabout,

Motion – for what? We on this carousel

Every bit as much imprisoned

As behind bars and walls

What is it we seek

On this unending treadmill?

Ourselves? Others?

Are we looking for freedom

Or perhaps a more hopeful future?

Die, we shall perish;

Is that our final frontier

Left to explore

Or only the falling of leaves

On the harsh earth?

Shall we fly off

To some celestial castle in the air,

Make happy pies out of our mud,

Chase scattered images

As if they held the key to wisdom?

We are all islands,

The infinite waves of life and the universe

Separating us always

From what we imagine to be

The permanence of land

Still waters may run deep

But do they keep

Within their stillness more than simple quiet?

The fish that swim below that watery sleep

May see the world around them as constant riot

Night fills us with its invisible thread

As our magnetic centres rotate like the earth,

Attracted, repelled, no gravity for stasis,

No solidity for building blocks

Even for our temples to shattered dreams

Is all our faith in vain?

Is the cool judgement of reason

The path we should follow?

Should we go with the flow of the waves,

Merge into the cool shining waters?

In our ending

Is also our beginning,

In our desires and fears

Does there lie the possibility

Of some solution?

Heart, you call out,

Under the moon that bathes us,

Showering silver streams upon us,

Music ringing in our suddenly open ears,

Perhaps a new conception of conception?

Inner space

in our journey through existence
we are weightlessness, waiting
for gravity to pull us to safety
entering other worlds
(whether through multidimensional tunnels
or perhaps a wormhole)
we encounter the paradox of mirrors
what's important isn't what we've been taught:
it's what we've learned;
the things that we find,
the experiences we endure
are all that is real
our upside-down perception
takes its inverted view of the world
as concrete, real
those who try to fly on the astral plane
are apt to make unexpected crash landings;
it is the thirst we crave in life,
never its quenching

Fear and trembling

where we stand in silence

the imperceptible pulse of life grows,

building gently to a river that flows

across the unprepared land with subtle violence

all that was formerly still

bounds and surges out of its hiding places,

and we, astonished, gaze upon their faces

in wonder mingled with a sudden chill

for the first time we listen; the rough notes

fly unexpectedly from familiar throats

all we believed in, desire, proves false;

across the empty dance floor we idly waltz,

intent on evading the horror, the sudden knowing

that all fields lie fallow now, however rich the sowing

The Caves of Old

A time ago we dwelt within the caves,

And lit our fires against the bitter cold,

Far from the sea and its eternal waves

We huddled by the fireside. Few died old.

Dark and dim the rooms in which we lived,

Only the flickering fire's flames for light,

And stalactites and stalagmites shone bright

As the cold ice slowly the weak ones sieved.

Here, in our world of caves, we made our home,

Eating what food we found, dressing in fur,

Fashioning tools to hunt with from our stone,

And struggling on in our half-Stygian blur.

We fashioned candles made of fat and bone,

And made our brushes out of hair and wood;

Inside this cave where water dripped on stone

We made our home as pleasant as we could.

So one day we drew pictures on the walls

Of our poor home, and we were proud;

It was such fun, and gave joy to us all:

We sang aloud.

Now, in our cave, we paint the world we know,

And even paint the dreams inside our heart.

We shall all die, but when at last we go

I hope a future time will love our art.

Our paintings sprang from laughter and from love,

And praise of God who dwells high up above;

We dwellers in the cave see all things true:

When the ice melts, what great things we shall do!

A Journey through Life

when our eyes first open after birth
we witness all the world around ourself
in a state of radical innocence
later, we learn
not everyone can be trusted;
some are even cruel
as we flesh ourselves
and the eyes within us glimmer
we quiver into life as rose and thorn
how shall we bear ourselves proudly,
knowing within this living world
to survive we must sometimes lie, even be hard?
our lives are soon lost
in the whirling currents
of unceasing events
only much later
do we begin to swim
rather than floating or even drowning
happiness no longer
a natural act,
rather, a play we perform
our expected audience offers no salvation
beyond at best massaging our fragile ego,
which at that stage in our lives is enough for us
though our eyes are open
we remain as drowsily slumbering
as any lulled to false rest by morphine
to respire is also to inspire,
to expire also to fade into nothingness,
the circle still unsquared
so it is at least we learn to give up
the fripperies we prized;
generally this realisation comes too late  
true wisdom does not lie
in arrogance or shouting frenziedly;
its voice is never louder than a whisper
The Seasons of Our Life

Youth is the spring of life, in which we grow
Out of our dark womb into fearful light;
The world's a simple place, full of delight,
Which we stride proudly, braggadocio
Emboldening us. When summer shines his bright
Glittering warmth on us, in gaudy show,
We're in full bloom, our loveliness the height
Of all the beauties in the seraglio
Of nature. Then our looks begin to fade,
Autumn creeps on us, and our leaves are shed:
Time wrinkles us, and we prepare for death.
Winter is change: we should not be afraid
As our hair's capped with snow. Within the bed
Of earth we rest, till spring brings us new breath.

Verse and Freedom

I wake at night, reach out and hope to find
Someone, or at least something, by my side,
But only empty vacancy
Greets me, and only silence
Tidies away all my uncertainties.
Words have tried to seep out of my brain
And in the past I penned them in behind
The formal fence of rhyme. Now I prefer
To let them go their way upon the page
And stain it with the blood from my cut heart.
The cold salt of my tears helps to moisten
The inner dryness nagging at my soul,
And as my pen slips through a narrow channel
Of undeveloped white paper, I imagine
Myself an explorer, words my ship.
Though in my mind I travelled every ocean,
Each continent, even the stars and planets,
When I must shape half-formulated griefs
And cloudy visions into brittle words,
I etch them on the page, death-cold.
I long for light to wake me from this world
Of gathering clouds, shadows that strangle me
And nullify the flesh. Like widow’s weeds
I wear the words I carve upon the page
Unwillingly, longing for absolution –
Seeking a freedom I cannot find in life
To paint the animal of me on this thin canvas,
Be through my words only a breath away
From whatever is, and lives.

Shadow and Light

In deepest shades of black shall I dress,

To match my hair that the wind's caress

Tousles and blows all about.

Around my eyes and on my lashes

The dark mascara and shadow flashes,

A gushing waterspout.

Dimly I see in the faint glimmer

Through the tall trees to where the sun's slow shimmer

Is still in doubt;

The cloak of dark is lifting slowly,

Leaving a vision of things unholy

That flicker about.

Thinking of jet, and wishing that I wore

My necklace dug out of the darkest shore

Our souls can scout,

Or of the miners, deep within the earth,

Labouring to bring the coal to birth

And fetch it out.

The dark within me and the dark outside

All come together, both resolved to hide

From those who'd push their greedy snout

Into our lives and make us live their way,

Not freely as we may,

But prisoners of the overly devout.

Now let the dark and light become as one,

And let us celebrate, not shun

The dark within us and the dark without.

We who remain alive

Must always strive

For shadow and light to become one throughout.

Time the Puppet-Master

Our lives are wound in by clock-master time,
From birth to death we lie within his power,
Not only years and months, even an hour -
A second even - for some unnamed crime
We're taken from this earth on which we live,
Either to feed the worms or burn in fire,
Or to be raised out of the earthly mire
Into a heaven above. Can we forgive
The sentence of eternal death upon
Each human, from the moment that we don
Our fleshly garb? Goodness and truth may save
Us from the fires of hell, if they exist;
But nothing can prevent us from the grave
Seizing us in its cold unwelcome mist.

Remembering the foreign country of the past

I once lived within you:
emigration set me free
are there regrets?
yes, of course;
but only
of the negative kind,
the wish that what had been
had happened otherwise,
the shame of things done
better left undone
and of course
your eternal absence
the present is much better
than the unforgotten but left-behind
past, choked with weeds,
rotten with the stench of murder,
gang-rape, drugs, two near murders
now I live
with a man who loves me,
we have a son and two daughters
in spite of the unseasonal cold
sun shines through my welcoming windows

Cloudy imaginings

once I wished upon a star

who knows how many light years away

in a galaxy whose name I never knew

and felt a frisson of fear in a handful of cosmic dust

wishes are never mares or stallions

or even mules or donkeys, nor are stars

capable of granting our desires

like the moon’s surface, we are scarred

with craters of pain, loneliness, abandonment,

separated from any hope of language

or the friendliest and gentlest touch

we have filled the seven seas

with hosepipes of tears, yet all our Saharas

remain perpetual unwatered deserts

without even a mirage serving as an oasis

life bleeds out of us not only monthly

but second by second as we are dragged ever closer

to the precipice of inevitable death

and there’s no bandage or plaster that can save us

high among the clouds my yearning mind

floats, seeking the world and a prospect of heaven

even the mountains hardly visible now

as my breath thins almost to a vacuum

riding the clouds I surge across this space

that, for all its features, seems so empty

though peopled, so unalive, so full of stasis

like a vapour trail I am scrawled

across the sky, seeming no more than effluent

from a passing jet plane, nothing remarkable

the swirl of me evaporates, passing

out of the realm of aerial graffiti

into a more distant emptiness

all I am now is a half-remembered dream

Fields of Dreams

when I woke
I wondered why;
I held your hand,
I touched your face,
brushing your lips, silent in sleep
with my own
2)
had I truly dreamed of drowning,
or was it only another of my nightmares?
at times it's hard to tell my visions
from unwanted dreams
3)
there was a barn,
a stable for horses,
and woods around us
as if to camouflage
our unseen selves
from prying eyes
4)
the power isn't a gift,
more like a curse;
I remember seeing
death in her face when we met,
I even knew what she would die of
5)

damn prophecy - I feel like a tourist
intruding on secret ceremonies,
and though I try to be close to the spiritual world
I'm not keen on being involved with the spirit world
I can read cards, sure:
but what Roma can't?
so can gorgers with an open mind
6)
we keep getting pushed
further and further away,
the West doesn't want us,
and we don't particularly want it
don't get me wrong:
one day I'd love it if our weary footprints
somehow made their ancestral return
7)
there are too many deaths between us now,
too much insincere braying by asses,
too many spectators at new Roman games,
indifferent to suffering, even applauding it
8)
oh, as I kiss your lips,
lap my tongue inside your mouth,
I feel you stir, I feel your hands reach out
to touch the twin rocks of my breasts,
and your suddenly firm rod I gently coax
to enter my aching tunnel
9)
love is always a warm jacuzzi,
chasing away dark demons from my heart
go away, beng!
I cast you out from me with the glow of love
(Beng is the Romanes name for the Devil - it's also what we call a frog)Top of Form

Outsider

cast out, cast away, rejected,

sinking into water, dejected,

falling into earth,

evaporating into air

I have become

fish, badger, eagle,

at home nowhere and everywhere,

alone yet one with all that lives and breathes

rebel yell out of my mouth

fists clenched against the world

invisible fins and wings

despised as I am

I have the power

to remake the world

in my own image

not only in dreams

can I shift shapes;

elusive as quicksilver

I escape you always

Ether the imaginary

after Michelson and Morley

the whole idea of the ether

passed out of fashion

  instead

the new substrate became

curved space-time

  ethereal means unworldy

spiritual even

  what could be less earthly

than a universe

of mathematical symbols?

The Universe

Watching you, the dark night spangled with stars,

The indifferent air still breathing, whether or not

Our own lungs inhale and exhale. In a world of things

No individual person has a value, and our tears,

However real and deeply felt

Mean nothing in this cold unfriendly universe.

Our tiny words may rage like hammers

Against the vast unfeeling space of you

But can change nothing. As if stranded on cliffs

Our tangible selves float in eternal numbness,

And true awareness comes when selfhood dies,

For at the summit of every mountain we find

The solitude of unsheltered freedom, standing

In a brave but futile gesture of defiance

Against the utter nothingness of everything.

Part Two Meditations on Death and Eternity

All flesh is grass

Farewell, earth's loveliness,

And all our earthly bliss;

What gives us pleasure

Is vain beyond measure,

All diamonds and pearls

Simply toys for the girls.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

Beauty with time will fade,

Friendship may be betrayed,

Even love falters.

Teach sons and daughters

Their dreams are in vain.

Only death ends all pain.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

No worth in wealth,

No promise in health,

However you strive

You cannot survive

When the grim reaper calls

We all must fall.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

No hope lies in strength

For we all at length

Must weaken and fade

Till in time we are laid

In the safe care of death

Who steals our last breath.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

No strength lies in power:

The grave will devour

The high and the low

Wherever they go.

Hide from the reaper?

You'll still be a sleeper.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

O, are you clever?

Still, no one whatever,

No matter how wise,

Can cheat death of his prize.

Brains cannot save

Anyone from the grave.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

Since there's no hope to stay

Death's scythe that swings our way

All we can do

Is to be kind, loyal and true.

As we ride in our hearse we

Must all pray for God's mercy.

All flesh is grass,

All life must pass.

Fields of Poppies

So many poppies bloom,
Pointing the way to where the dead
Lie, covered by living earth, their tomb,
Quiet at last within their bed.
Once the peace of these green fields was broken
As bombs and guns assailed their ears;
Now these poppies stand as their token,
Watered by living tears.
The carpet of poppies, spread out in a line
Is the colour of blood,
The living fruit of a human vine
Lost among sand and mud.
The wind is still above the poppy fields,
A bird in flight hardly troubles the air
With its swift passage. This bright landscape yields
Itself forever to enshrined  despair.
In a calm, sedate, processional sea
Of red, the poppies flaunt their prid
Across these fields of misery,
These monuments to those who died.

The Passing of a Great Soul: For Jim (Jumbo)

Larger than life in every way, it seems
Impossible for your great frame to be
Neutered in death, all your heaving volcanic passion
Silenced at last. How can it be that you,
So full of life, so much the warrior
Should be laid low by the foetid assassin cancer?
Yet you lie dead.
You kept your secrets well, both good and bad,
Yet there were some of them you shared with me,
Others that I discovered for myself.
For all your faults and sins, I loved that big
Heart that blazed out from you always, the true
Passion and sincerity that always surged
Out of your man-mountain frame. Loyal and true you were,
Yet you lie dead.
For all that you, like me, had a chequered past,
Your soul retained a radical innocence,
A fierce belief in what you saw as right,
And though at times your dogma shackled you
So that you spoke and walked with handcuffs,
You kept your faith, lived in a world of absolutes,
Certain that you were right. The love you gave
Shines up to God, even beyond the grave,
Though you lie dead.
Too many deaths crowd in upon me lately:
Anna has left us; now charismatic Jumbo
Flies off, like Elijah or Enoch, in a whirlwind
Whisked straight from earthly realms to heaven above,
And all the broken flowers of the world,
The strangled sobs, the poisoned fish, testify
To the sad passing from us of a great soul,
Ash and earth’s bones pulled upwards in sheer shock
Now you lie dead.
Dear Jim, dear loyal friend, dear sweetie-pie,
I told you more than once that I saw you
As my ideal man. In another time and place
We could have been a couple, joined in love
And mutual respect. Farewell, dear Jim;
Each of us remnants of a dying tribe
But resolute to hold on to our heritage.
Though you lie dead
At any moment I expect
You to rise up, a big grin on your face,
And, laughing, say: ‘I fooled you there!’

Wherever the wind may take you now
I know your cloud blossoms with fiery love.

Elegy for Anna

millions of dead festoon this earth of ours;
even among the ones I know and love
too many have since passed beyond my sight
though I, like you, believe and trust
in God's great mercy, promise of eternal
life, still, the absence of you in flesh
troubles me
the illusion we imagine
to be the world we strive to inhabit
belongs to both of us. You touched my heart
with your warm kindness, often made me laugh
with your cartoons, your images, your sayings
your death broke on me like a snapping wire,
a tumbled-down pylon. How was it possible
that you, so seemingly indestructible,
amazingly cheerful always, should be laid low
by the assassin cancer?
have you abandoned our world of make-believe
for the solid realm of eternity?
are there new dreams to delight you in that world?
I am bewildered that you, such a solid thing,
should be removed from us. Surely gravity
will pull you back into the living world
again, so we may laugh and disagree
about politics, race, religion, Irish history,
and the conspiracy theories popping out
from under your tinfoil hat?
a lady, prudish even, sometimes shy,
yet full of mischief, not above implying
you swung both ways in your relationships
the thief of death stole in to your pure soul
and robbed you of your precious life
the end of all our wrangling, all our flirting,
the river of affection suddenly silted up,
your sudden absence an aching vacuum
inside the blackest hole of the universe
I hope and pray and trust that God will lift you
high up, among the sparkling stars
illuminating the sky above our night-time world
with your radiance, your passion, your sincerity
a part of me has died along with you;
it is always so when death claims one we love,
and the remaining soul must try to navigate
their course, with one less familiar trusted landmark
by which to steer our mortal ship of fools
perhaps your fragrance lingers on the air;
if so, I long to breathe in that perfume,
spray it upon myself, so that at least a fragment
of the scent may linger on, even in your absence
just as death gathers up life
within its net, so too we live
in both sides of the looking glass,
the inner and outer world
which (if either) of these worlds is real
we cannot say;
all is illusion, every self-portrait
a study in artifice
if you would come again
we'd need no words to cast their shadows
between us
each of us knows
there can be joy even in pain,
love and empathy even in separation
we have both raged
against the things we saw as unjust, evil,
even if they were not always the same things

I have wrapped around myself
the sheet of your laughter
to form a kind of keepsake
you have been torn
out of our world of bodies and desire
into a landscape with infinite curved space
and at most the mass of a neutrino
now your sundered selfhood
charges itself with the energy of the universe,
the broken fragments of you fashioned
into the kaleidoscope that is the cosmos
in the midst of life, in  the midst of death,
your giant heart spills out its life blood
more powerful than millions of seeds
planted in loamy soil
can we make the return journey
from death to life to conception,
travelling back into the womb
and be again no more than the swimming tadpole
or receptive egg, that once we were?
you wove your tapestry of dreams and hopes
out of words and images, carved out upon the world
your thoughts, desires, threading into life
your vision of the world you longed for
I have shed tears for you, dear Anna, said prayers for your soul in three languages -
German, Romanes and English -
yet all my tears
like the fountain of words
flowing from me, now that I write of yu,
are dancers at a wake. Te soves misto,
may you sleep well, meine schwesterlein,
du, wie Heine sagt,
bist sowie eine Engel
if I could call you back again,
breath on the embers of your extinguished fire
and blow it back once more to radiant heat
I'd gladly do it
the glittering stars
possess you now
schlaf wohl, pislikurja!

Author notes

I wrote this tribute for a friend of mine who died of cancer. I’ve used a few foreign words in here - 'te soves misto' means 'may you sleep well' in Romanes; 'meine schwesterlein' means 'my little sister' in German; 'du, wie Heine sagt' means 'you, as Heine said, 'bist sowie eine Engel' 'are so like an angel; 'schlaf wohl' means 'sleep well' in German and 'pislikurja' means 'darling' or 'sweetheart' in Romanes.
Anna was German though she spoke brilliant English.

My Going

My eyes, that loved to gaze on Nature,

One day will close. My ears, that love music

Shall be as stoppered shut as wine that’s corked.

The fragrant flowers whose scent I so adore

Will never again be smelt or touched.

All will be dark and silent in my life

Once I have left this earth.

Above my dead head the stars will glitter at night

And the sun still shed its rays when day awakes,

And the sea will wash against the land

Over and again in perpetual refrain

The sun will be a crown for my silent head

Shining in splendour far beyond my power.

The stars will cast their pearls around my neck,

And the sea lap my intangible feet.

All that I am is a vanished speck of dust

In this innumerable universe.

Love, death and the sea

the sea has enfolded you
into its moving quilt of waves,
washing you with its spume.
and out of it grow strange flowers:
perhaps of green or cerulean blue,
and it darts within the caves
sculpted out of the rock; perfume
of ozone fills the bitter hours
now among the ruins of the ocean
only flotsam still remains
out of the sudden stillness a quiet voice
sounds in my head, roaring a flood,
a gale, a storm-tide of demanding motion,
a constant repetition of our pains,
lost as we are, whichever choice
we make, cursed to oblivion by our blood
we might as well be dead; hearing the drone
of endless thunder, lightning's dazzling flash,
and the salt rain beating on us with its tears,
the weeping of our wounds across the earth,
and all that's left of us a whispered moan
crying against the clangour and the clash
of ignorant armies shortening our years
as, hour by hour, more hatred's brought to birth
the stars above glitter in cold display
of remote, indifferent brilliance; from this chill
I try to wrestle love and warmth once more
out of this barren, sea-wracked land,
so that somehow we'll live another day,
turn back the horror, somehow find the will
to fight against the rape of our proud shore,
stand firm, be at last able to withstand
the pounding beat luring us to our doom,
presaging our habitation in the tomb
A Prayer

Lord, I'm no angel, nor have ever been;
I don't know if there are such folk as saints
But if there are I won't be in their number
When they go marching in. My mouth is foul,
I'm told so often, and although I mean
Well on the whole, too many just complaints
About the deeds I've done will surely sunder
Me from all hope of grace. A willing heart
Is not enough to save me: though I howl
In penitential tears, I stand apart
Forever from your glory and your grace,
Unworthy to approach your dwelling place.
I who am nothing, worthless, dirty, low,
Ask nothing for myself, deserve to go
To an abandoned state, not Paradise,
My life too full of perfidy and vice.
Yet I remember how your guiltless Son
Died on a Cross: the sins of everyone
He took upon Himself. Can I believe
That through Him even I can find reprieve?

The Purgatory Scam

Purgatory
is just a scam
a myth invented
to make money
for the Bishop of Rome
God is love:
He'd never treat
His children like that
(or send them to hell)

The Love of God

Dear God, some see you as incarnate wrath,

Judging us sinners with a vengeful mien,

Doomed to damnation, torment; so obscene

To your pure gaze, we are some noxious weed,

Spewing our poison and our sin around,

Void of all virtue: hope for us is none,

Our striving vain, our every plan undone,

Our planted seeds falling on stony ground.

  No, Lord, I trust in you: Your great love gave

Christ to our sinful world, through Him to save

Souls worthless as my own: His sacrifice

Is an eternal answer to all vice.

  God shows us mercy, tenderness and love

On earth below, as in the heavens above

Peace on earth

Earth's mountains, streams, even the glittering sky
studded with stars and planets whirling round,
all in their different fashions testify
to what for me's God's grandeur. I have found
beauty in such strange places, just as I
find kindness in unlikely people. Crowned
with magnificent colours, rainbows fly
their pennants high above our mortal ground.
the birds and bees and beasts are part of all
this woven tapestry that gives us life,
fitted for purpose, if our choice is right,
and we prefer to turn towards the light,
rather than pass our days in ceaseless strife,
forgetting how we, truly, are so small

Away in a manger

Born in cold winter's night,
You lay in straw, a manger for your bed,
Straw born like me, yet in your infant head
The wisdom of the universe shines bright.
Who could have dreamed your destiny,
A king, not seated on a throne,
Crying your first mortal breaths alone,
No shadow yet of tragedy?
In this humble place you lay and slept,
While over you the angels kept
Good watch. Wise men and shepherds came,
Following the celestial flame.
Two thousand years have passed since then,
Yet, upon the lips of men
Your praise resounds, your fame renowned,
Your love for us is without bounds.

The Birth of Our Lord

Out of the thorn grew a rose,
In Bethlehem in olden times,
Born in a world of countless woes,
Into a land stained red with crimes
  A little baby boy was born
And drew His first harsh breath of pain,
Out of the womb on Christmas morn
Emerged, that we might live again
His brightness lit the world around:
Even His tears bled love;
We heard the singing sound
Of angels, saw the dove
Later His rose became a thorn,
Bloody and butchered on a cross
He who was born on Christmas morn
Saved us with His own loss
  God of our parents, known of old
We reach out across the years and praise
The baby born in winter cold
Until the end of days

A Good Friday Reflection

1)

Choked on the endless degustation
Of blood and pain, unable to resist
The feeding frenzy of the amoral media
With its relentless determination to exacerbate
The woes of the world, its superlative
Depiction of a living hell, an abomination
In which no one sane would live by choice,
So, in its cult of death,
It makes our eyes become unfocused
And our hearts incapable of empathy
2)
The endless grifting with which they aspire
To shuffle through our senses, rob us blind
Of any vestiges of joy, compassion,
Hope, love, or laughter, reduced to nothing
But gangly, desensitized automata, responding
Only to their Pavlovian stimuli,
Making our eyes incapable of seeing
Anything but the shadow play they invent,
And so we become conditioned only to witness
The lies, the pain, the filth they throw at us,
Till their subliminal advertising hems us in,
We have become no longer human,
Simply another brick in their mental prison
3)
The carnage they celebrate is of course real,
And equally to any sensitive soul
The sight and sound of the beleaguered victims
Of death and cruelty, oppress us all
Christ hung upon a cross,
Two thieves on either side,
That was on Good Friday;
Today Christ still hangs
On an eternal cross they call the world,
And on each side of him the human race,
Brainwashed, oppressed, exploited, raped, abused,
Tortured and murdered, all in the media's eyes
An educational and informational process,
The grifter's excuse, not honest enough to admit
Pain and misery are entertainment to them
And from the endless cross of Calvary
Christ still looks down with love and pity

What Easter means to me

 Out of the egg of life
You became flesh;
Like any other baby
You nuzzled at Your Mother's breasts.

But You were special:
Human, yes, but also (through a miracle
And mystery) God Himself made mortal
Upon this earth of ours.

  And so You tried to teach us
The ways of righteousness
But hardly anyone wanted
To listen to the words you spoke.

And then they nailed you on the cross
To hang there till you died;
  Oh, the cruel death you suffered there
And all because we sinned!

  Laid in the tomb, wrapped in a sheet,
Even the ones who loved you desolate;
It seemed that you had gone away for ever,
Mortal as the rest of us.

Inside your tomb of rock, even the stone
That held your body, wept with tears.
  Oh, then the women came,
And went to enter in.

Oh miracle of miracles! The stone before the tomb
Was rolled away. The women stared in horror,
Thinking that his enemies had come
To ravage even his dead body.

  They saw a man dressed all in white,
The gardener so they thought;
'Sir, where is He who lay within
The tomb whose sealing rock lies open now?'

  The man in white smiled serenely at them:
'Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not dead, but living;
Did He not tell you He would rise again?'

  Then the stunned women recollected
How He'd said just those words to them,
Promising that He would die
But be reborn again.

'Oh, Our Lord lives!' cried Mary Magdalene,
Gazing in gratitude and rapture on
The angel's face. 'He lives, His words are true!
Christ Our Lord has conquered even death!'

And quickly she ran out to tell the others,
Those close disciples who had heard His words
When He still lived, and yet who'd fled away
When it seemed He had tasted death like other mortals.

  The mystery of death, of life, of life in death,
Of life, then death, and then eternal life,
Was shown us all on Easter Sunday by Our Lord.
Oh Christ, You are our all in all;
Without You we are nothing,
Can do nothing.
Creatures of sin,
We wait upon your grace.

For the Risen Christ

The sky shut its eyes in shame, the ground beneath

Heaved up its sighs; then all was still at last, 

  Only the wailing of the watching women

Breaking the awed silence.

  Later, in a tomb Christ was laid in a winding-sheet of white,

And a heavy stone rolled before

The entrance to the tomb  

  Three days passed, and the earth shook again,

The wind swung violently and tore the air

And the stone rolled away from His burial place,

And all around was filled with sudden light

  And Mary, come to weep and to anoint His body, found the sight that met her gaze

Like dew on a parched flower at early light,

And Mary saw the living hands and feet

And felt as stunned and awed as if the stars

Had been uprooted from the sky

And hurled down to the bottom of the ocean.  

  Stilled the crimson blood

That flowed once, yet again He breathes, He speaks  

  And out of that day we live,

Our wounds, our sins, healed by His sacrifice.  

  Through His atonement, our at-one-ment.

God’s saving grace

Lies ruled my life
I had no understanding or empathy
Caring was an utter joke to me
My world was choked with hate and arrogance
Yet even in the midst of all the grief
I brought to others, somehow I know now
That You were watching over me
Daily, with Your boundless love
Even for me, a wretched, worthless sinner
Then, in the darkest moment of my life
You brought me solace, touched my heart with grace,
Now, with infinite thankfulness, each day I praise
Your precious love, your free gift of salvation

The End of Days

so many tell me now
we're living in the Last Times,
Judgement Day, Armageddon,
rapidly approaching
well, we survived 1999,
the Millenium Bug and the Mayan Calendar,
so I'm cautiously optimistic
we can survive Brexit and Trump
harder to predict
is the extent to which gullibility and stupidity
will lead a bunch of fanatical clowns
to try and immanentize the Eschaton
in their fevered brains
scatology and eschatology are confused;
as for me, if it comes to Armageddon,
Armageddon out of the way!
Last Judgement

Lord, I kneel at your feet, sobbing with shame;
No matter how many tears of guilt I shed
None are enough to cleanse my dishonoured name,
Nor make me worthy to raise my lowered head
I can urge nothing in my own defence:
Yes, I have tried my best to be
A good wife and mother, but the rank offence
I've given so many means I'm never free
Of the weight of sin that hangs upon my shoulder
Like an ever-present, pock-marked, rugged boulder
To my surprise I have an advocate;
Christ touches me with His soft hands, and smiles:
'Daughter of earth, unworthy reprobate
Though you may be, you've been through many trials,
And though your life has much to be condemned
You've tried at least to make a sort of end
Of past misdeeds, and since your faith in Me
Knows your unworthiness, your faith shall set you free.'
Our Lord then raised me up from where I knelt,
And touched me with a love I'd never felt.
'Enter in to My kingdom, sinful child,
Your sins forgiven, though of course reviled;
I hate the sin, but love the sinner more:
Be welcome now to enter heaven's door.'

Thoughts on the Resurrection of the Dead

if the dead wake, come to life once more,

how shall we of flesh continue to live? The terror

of that most ultimate existence will surely

devour our fragile mortal certainties

we had not planned

for such encounters, could not endure

this irruption of life after life

into our presumed existence, the utterly shallow

surface of our life revealed to us

and we would break beneath its overflowing power

cries of terror and pain would come from us,

sobbing, lamentations, quick evasions,

a desperate desire to rationalize

a thing beyond all reasoned interpretation

all we have done, all our forgotten deeds

flashing before our eyes

at the speed of light

cold and dark will consume us

in the presence of that most ineffable of lights,

the newly living will touch our face

with the brightness of an extinguished star,

which is truly what we are

though we are empty inside ourselves

we can grow into the infinite nothingness

of space, drain the existence of ourselves

and breathe in whatever the world is

you, whom we thought of as withered weeds

or at best cut flowers,

have become large as oaks again

and we suddenly only a puny acorn

will you, the newly alive, receive us back

into your charged living selves, beckoning us

to abandon our fleeting existence

for whatever may be real,

casting aside our transitory joys and sorrow,

this empty, unexpected universe

for the milk and manna that perhaps shall feed us all?







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