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Down in the Depths...

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I'm heading off on sabbatical to Holden Village in Washington State at the end of this week, where I am speaking about Jonah among other things. I was asked to preach at vespers there this coming Sunday. Foolishly I said I would do a responsive version of the set Psalm for that Sunday Psalm 42 or 43, which seemed appropriate in that Jonah found himself literally "down in the depths..." Unfortunately I now don't have time to prepare that together with everything else I have to do, so I slightly reworked this paraphrase of Psalm 42 and 42 that I wrote some time ago when I was in a particularly bad place. Thankfully I am no longer in that place and part of the means of escaping there was this discipline of lament and rehearsing the goodness of God. Today I have been with others who are in a bad place, and there will be many others there too... I hope these words help:

As a wanderer in the desert gasps for water, so my soul is gasping for you, O God, My heart thirsts for Go…

Prophet Poets

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Some words prompted by the sermon of my friend and President of the Methodist Church in Great Britain Michaela Youngson at today's Ordination Service in Cork.


With words shaped by the Living Word
Prophet poets become
Incarnate poems
Offering new possibilities
Metaphors of the metaphysical
Windows into the eternal
Enabling others
To become more
Than they had ever imagined
But everything they have always been. Selah

You're Welcome

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It's strange what cocktails of things prompt the things that I write. They are frequently just word doodles. Yesterday's poem was, as I said, prompted by the death of a friend and colleague, but what I didn't say was that Christy Moore's "Ride on" and the hymn "For all the saints" were also a bizarre musical mash-up in my head as I wrote.  In this case the following short reflections were stirred up not only by Jesus' dealing with Simon Peter in John 20 from last week's lectionary,  but also reading stories of politicians that I would bitterly disagree with, a response by a colleague to a comment I had made about a political commentator that I dislike, seeing a church notice board (not this one) on my way into work that says "All Welcome" when I don't actually think that all would be welcome in that particular church, except on their terms, and listening to the gospel song "People Get Ready" on my car playlist on the s…

Ride On

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A poem for a colleague and those who miss him, for now... 

Ride on brother, ride on  You’ve had a tough climb  You can now fill your lungs  Lift your head and ride on. 
From the start you set the pace Showed us what needed done  Encouraged those less able  And inspired all those around 
You always cheered on others  Now your brothers and sisters  Of all generations and nations  Applaud your run for home 
The victor's crown awaits you  We feebly struggle in your wake  But you never sought the glory  You just did what needed done 
So now you’ve crested the hill  We’ve lost sight of you for now  But your example spurs us on And we’ll see you at the finish 
So ride on brother, ride on  You’ve had a tough climb  You can now fill your lungs 
Lift your head and ride on.  Shalom

The Song of the Fish

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Still on a bit of a Mary Oliver kick, I remembered this piece I wrote for an event I wasn't able to deliver. It's inspired by (stolen from) The Ballad of Amergin, Colossians 1, John 1, Genesis 1, Belfast’s Big Fish and the city in which it stands
I am the fish: that leaps the weir, I am the river: from moor to mouth, I am the cloud: that lours above, I am the rain: the tears of the sun, I am the gull: soaring and strutting, I am the seedling: in crack and crevice, I am the hillsides: embracing the city, I am the Word: bringing all into being In whom all things hold together.
I am the car: rushing on by, I am the bike: crossing the bridge, I am the lights: dictating the traffic, I am sun: looking down on all, I am the boat: bound for abroad, I am the waves: on which it sails, I am the wind: blowing where it wills, I am the breath: bringer of life Hovering over the chaos.


I am the fire; of every hearth, I am the roof: for every head, I am the bread: on every table, I am the queen: of every hive, I am …

The Thief of Other Sounds

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Reading Mary Oliver's "Mockingbird" this morning prompted this thought/poem, which is somewhat chastening as I had set aside this morning for some more focused "creative writing.." Of course this is not a patch on Oliver's and in itself illustrates the very point I am making in it... Ah well...

The thief of other sounds
the poet's description of the mockingbird could apply comfortably to me a magpie of shiny thoughts  because even when I am speaking from my true self I am only ever  a complex amalgamation of ideas, influences and inspirations a recombination of generations of genes  with only defunct or deleterious mutations likely to be remotely original and even then they  and everything else are  at source recycled stardust yet even in my unoriginality I am as the internet meme says unique just like everyone else.

Is that it? Finished?

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The third and last of my monologues for Holy week from the perspective of Simon Peter.

He was right… Everything he said would happen happened… And everything that I vowed I would do were only empty words… And I have cried myself empty in the time since… After the confusion of last’s Passover meal, it at first felt like a relief to get out of that room and head across to Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives… We’d gone there before with him this week… it’s there that he talked about the troubled times to come when the temple would be torn down… But we didn’t expect our world, our hopes and dreams to be torn down in a similar way… He went there to pray and had asked us to pray with him… but we were exhausted, and full of food and wine, and so we nodded off… three times he came to wake us up… And he was wound up in a way I had never seen him before… But the third time, while he was still speaking to us we saw a mob coming up, through the olive grove… there were temple guards among them and Juda…