Monthly Archives: December 2011

Ordinary Time

In the winter after Christmas,
the night after the lights come down
In the barrens after feasting
the silence when the music ends

This is when it really matters
this is when we need to believe
That what has come to pass in us
is stronger than January.

That daily He abides within
the dirty stable of our hearts
to wake, and live, and die with us
to go down and to rise with us.

Christmas (2011)

Glory to God in the highest,!
And on Earth peace, good will to men

For when the hammer of winter fell
And we wept in the trenches of ourselves
He came stooping like a falcon down
To pluck us from our last cold ending
With talons that smelt of summertime.

Thanksgiving (2011)

By the brightness of the trees
In the last warmth of the year
By the lighting of the leaves
We come and are gathered here

In this world we have been blessed
So we feast with thanksgiving
Though this world is wilderness
With the winter on the wing

Yet we give our thanking where
Summer falls and brightness lies
For we shall be gathered there
To the land that never dies.

Thanksgiving (2010)

In the evening we will praise Thee
For the arch above our heads
for the shoes upon our feet
for these candles in the night
and the sun tomorrow
For the fulness of our selves
and for coats against the frost
For good works allowed us
and dark ones forgiven
For the midst we live in
For rooms full of loving
For our smallness and our need
For our hunger and our weight
For our longing and our lack
For thy rod and thy staff
and thy deep dark blanket self.

You the light in the subway
You the feast in the night
You the kindness in my eyes
and the last, best breaking of my heart
For all the things we are, and have
and have been given by Thee Lord
One more thing may Thou give us
The being in our hearts
the knowing in our heads
the speaking in our mouths
of thanksgiving.

Good Friday (2011)

Oh Lament,

For the sun has left us
and crept beneath the earth to weep.
For the earth sobs beneath our feet,
and she will not be comforted
For the sky is black with mourning
and weeps down night for grief
For the grieving rocks cry out
until their hearts are split
For the trees of the field
have cracked for wailing
and all created things cry out
“they have taken away my Lord
and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Spring Runoff (2011)

It was Wednesday, and the season of fasting
and the ice was black in the corners of the world
It looked like winter, and felt like winter, and smelt like winter
and winter eternal

but that night there was a movement in the air
a breaking in the silence
and a wind came up
warm and deep and wide low

and in the margins of our sleep
we heard it roaring in the pines,
and felt it shake the roof
and the old house of our flesh was set to groaning.

And we awoke, and forsook roofs and walls
for love of the wind
we left our blankets and our sleep
we left our very clothes

and went out like children
naked in the wind
though it was winter
For all we knew.

And the wind rose roaring to meet us
it poured in our eyes and ears and down our throats
it swept up through the soles of our feet
and bled in through the palms of our opened hands

And down, down into the deep of us
into the glacial dark of us
to shake the ice as old as man
to warm the winter in the heart of the world.

And when we could speak again
it was as the sound of rushing water
and we ran down all the ditches of the land
in a brown and joyful flood.

Ordinary Time (2011)

O Father in the ordinary time
in the sleeping of the green
in the heavy of the sky
in the silence of the water

You the roaring beneath the ice
You the spark in the middle night
You the star in these black woods
You the word after dying

Be vital and near
and heavy and pure
loud and strong
and never-ending

And rush in our veins like sap
at the secret smell of spring.

Words (2010)

A word has been
The frailest thing that ever was.
The hooting ghost of thought
wind pushed over muscles, through mouths
faint pencil on paper, ink on internet
symbols drawn on air
writing on water.

In the world of feet and hands words are
Sounds warding off bullets
thoughts spoken against shrapnel
a poem to halt the booted feet
a phrase to break the power of money
stories of warmth and providence
against literal cold
and literal hunger
Books against beasts and bombs and cold steel bumpers

An idea for a home
the wind for a meal
Nouns for a shield

but they land, these little things
these sounds and shapes on paper
they slip into ears and eyes and hearts and minds
like ghosts
and hope
and filter in and dance about,
warm and glimmering
and filled with light
and they warm the cold places
and soften hard things
and succour weak things
and makes steady the wavering
and give bones of steel to half-held hope

And the eyes look once again to the horizon
and the shoulders set
the hands grip the tool
and the tool is lifted
as the heart remembers why
and oh God, Oh God,
the world is changed.

Advent (2010)

This is the season of evening
This is the dark of the year
Under the hammer of winter
When night is heavy and near

These are the days of the burden
The snow is deep on our hearts
For morning comes too late to us
and daylight too soon departs

This is the dying of the year
frost heavy on our bones
Our hearts beat slow within us now
and all creation moans

This the season and these the nights
we come to gather here
a little flock of candles come
to burn away the drear

A fire is lit, the door is shut
Against the howling dark
but night is long and deep and old
An ocean ‘gainst a spark

So while it beats against the door
and winter rings us round
we reach down into fastnesses
and bring out what we’ve found

The dearest and most sacred thing
brought forth at greatest need
the story that has rescued us
we’ve gathered here to read

To speak it and to sing it out
and to smell and taste it
wear its warmth and see by its light
and to be raised by it

That He who spoke all worlds to spin
And bade the heavens be
Came down into the winter dark
To live as one of we

To know the width and depth of night
To bear the weight of life
To lead his creatures into spring
to know dead winter’s bite

For now its jaws are broken
And now its strength will flee
For now the dying of the year
is made nativity.

Church (2010)

We are not hungry
we are not cold
we are not naked
on the earth

We have warm clothes
we have books to read
we have walls around our cities
we have money in the bank

we have sight in our eyes
strength in our arms
speed in our legs
shoes on our feet

we are armed and well-fed
we are safe and well-read
we will not be murdered
and we will not starve

but when we leave the house it is in disguise
but when we move it is under cover of darkness
and we take our meals as the deer
ready to be far away very soon

Because we are happy and in love
well-fed and taken care of
but we are not at home
and this land does not love our kind
our souls are seeking home
and our bodies are not safe here
and our hearts will be pierced by a sword

and so each week we meet here
and say hello, and I love you
and the Lord bless and keep you
but also we say “Look, I am still alive.
I have not fallen in the week.
My heart is still beating,
and the arrow has not found my breast.
And while I live I will be Church with you
And when I die I will be home with you
For many have fallen
and many will fall
before we reach the walls of Zion.”