Three loads I carry

Three loads I carry as I walk,
Three packs I balance on my back.
Each one I meticulously packed,
Each I carefully stowed and strapped down hard.
Not one I felt I could leave behind,
Not one could I do without.
Three weights I feel dig in my shoulder,
Each one present and distinct,
Pulling me in different directions,
Making my way harder than it seems,
Causing me to miss my step and trip,
Yet often they feel as one,
So tightly are they bound together,
So long have I carried them.
At times they feel alien jabbing and ripping me,
At times they are part of me.
They are things of great value to me,
Things that make me who I know I am,
Things that give me place and time,
Things that though at time they give me pain,
Are me.

One great sack carries all I hold of worth,
All that I think I love,
All that I hope never to lose.
How could it be possible to leave this bag?
I could no more cut off my arm or leg!
This I bind closest to me,
I wear it next to my back,
This load gives me stability,
It sures me when I feel feeble.
It is my frame, yet still it is heavy.

One carries all my certainty,
That which I have no doubt is ordained.
In each part a word or thought,
A prayer or poem which gives me purpose,
It is what keeps me on.
It holds my map, my itinerary.
How could I abandon all this,
For whom should I walk,
Which way should I go,
How would I know, how could I be sure?

One load binds all three,
It wraps around the other two,
At times holding them,
At times pushing them sharply into my skin.
My fears I carry in this last bag,
My fear of losing the others,
My fear of walking alone,
My fear of being lost.
My fear of being pointless,
Of going nowhere, of being no-one.

But,
All this speaks of me; my loves, my faith, my fears.
My scale of what is valuable,
My sense of what is good and right,
My insecurity.
I am content in each step and yet I count each mile,
I want to pass, to savour each view,
To go the places I could not plan to visit,
I want in each to leave something of me, something good behind.
Somehow, I don’t know how,
I know I must risk leaving parts of me by the road.
I must give up my load,
Lay down my pack.
Not in wild abandon,
But in faithful surrender.

Photo from https://unsplash.com/@tychoa

Dwell in me

Great God,
who constructs the cosmos, dwell in me.
who sets the stars, dwell in me.
who paints the planets, dwell in me.
who separates the seasons, dwell in me.
who dictates the days, dwell in me.
who times the tides, dwell in me.
who made mankind, dwell in me.
dwell in all my being,
dwell in all my walking,
dwell in all my crying,
dwell in all my loving,
dwell in all my thinking,
dwell in all my living.

Pentecost

Poem

Waiting, Waited,

Flame Breather, Life Teaser,
Sweet Essence, Hard Presence,
Pulsing Blood, Sweeping Flood
Storm Force, Water Source,
Deepest Kiss, Draining Bliss,
Motivator, Love Creator,
Hearts Gripped, Conventions Ripped,
Fire Poured, Winds Roar,

Whisper, Whisper,

Blown Upon, Blown Away,
Burning Up, Burning Out,

Baraka, Ruach, Shanti, Shalom,
Life Spirit, Holy Spirit, Spirit.

Prayer

Kindle in us a love for the wild beauty of the creation of God.
Fan the flame of passion for community.
Heat us to white hot with yearning for culture to be transformed
And people to know the God who breathed life into them and the world they walk upon.
Spark in us a fire which rages with all consuming heat against injustice, oppression and evil.
Bright flame, for whom Aidan of Lindisfarne was named,
Passed on from generation to generation,
From winter to winter,
From day to day,
Set alight in us the love of the Christ who walks in the world,
Blow on us with the wind which filled the sails of the Perigrinati and spread the Gospel throughout the world.

Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash

Lamentation

A liturgy for lament from ‘Opening the doors’

Walter Brueggemann wrote, “Jesus knew what we numb ones must always learn again: that weeping must be real because endings are real; and that weeping permits newness. His weeping permits the kingdom to come… Only those who embrace the reality of death will receive the new life. Implicit in his statement is that those who do not mourn will not be comforted and those who do not face the endings will not receive the beginnings.” Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic imagination (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 57.

Lament is an important part of worship, the Bible is full of lament, from the cries of the Psalmist to the words of Jesus praying in the garden before his arrest and crucifixion. We need to recognise that sorrow and death are part of life and speak out our pain in faith. If we do not mark our losses and grieve it is hard to take the next, forward steps in faith and life.

MAY OUR TEARS SPEAK (LITURGY) God of all, we stand at the door and weep. The world around changed as we watched from our homes. There is much we have lost, loved ones and people we may have come to know, brothers and sisters, friends and family. We have lost some of our freedoms, our way of living and many of our hopes. We have lost security, purpose and role, many fear for their livelihood and that of their families. We have grieved in silence and solitude, we have watched our departed become statistics, our mourning displaced by daily charts and unfeeling graphs. May our tears speak where our words cannot.

God of community, we stand at the door and weep. We have lost time to learn and explore, friendships faded through absence, celebrations long dreamed of missed and forgotten. Hard worked for ambitions and personal goals handed to strangers to determine. We have watched as pixelated grandchildren took their first step and connections dropped at crucial moments. We have distanced ourselves from friends and neighbours, waved from behind fences and shouted through windows. We have lost the casual connection, the supermarket aisle catch-up, the unexpected conversation. We have watched as friends and neighbours turned on each other, as frustration and indignation tore families apart. May our tears speak where our words cannot.

God of the church, we stand at the door and weep. We have missed each other, we have tried to hold it together, we have zoomed and skyped but as good as they are, we have missed the way a smile infects a room and the sparkle of the spirit in each other’s eyes. We have longed for the handshake and the hug, the hand on the shoulder and the clap on the back. We have been so desperate to sing songs of peace and joy, to break bread and share words that we have clung to what we can stream. We have become fixated on return when you call us forward. May our tears speak where our words cannot.

God of peace, we stand at the door and weep. We offer ourselves as peacemakers, as healers and lovers. We do not have the answer, but we share the tears of those around us. We have still more to lose, because things will never be the same, we must find a new way to be, your way. A way that may mean letting go of all that we longed for as you gift us a new calling to a new world. But in this moment, we stand at the door and weep for what we have lost and will lose, We weep for those whose passing we have not been able to mark, for those whose grief we have not been able to ease, for those whose lives have been ripped apart and whose future feels shattered. God all we ask is you hear our cries in the silence, our tears in the stillness, our prayers in the gap between what was and what is to come. May our tears speak where our words cannot.

God of creation, we stand at the door and weep for what has ended and for what there is to come. We weep for endings and beginnings, we weep for a church that is changed, a world that is hurting and for the kingdom that is to come. May our tears speak where our words cannot.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. 19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. 20 O guard my life, and deliver me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:16-20

Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

Unlocking

Unlocking, seeking, push my fingers through the gap,
searching for a surface on the space that is emerging,
listening for a rhythm that the life beyond is turning,
Morning
Mourning
Passing in the crack that now chases round the birthing,
Straining to a place where the edges fight the blurring,
To prey
To pray
Holding to the difference of a heart beginning beating,
Rushing to embrace what may be only fleeting,
A piece
A peace

Night Rain

The sound of rain falling in the deep night is a reminder that every now and then the world needs washing. The dirty streets littered with our selfish striving and strewn with the harshest words, dropped casually during the day, need to be cleaned. Hopes forcibly squeezed out and dreams stolen wait to be washed into drains, longing to be recycled and fed back in sleep’s stories. Prayers of the ones no longer here descend to rattle against our walls and fences, some seep through gaps and splits to water shoots of memory. Fall night rain fall.

Prayer for personal peace

In the turmoil of life, in the chaos of the storm, when you lose your sense of direction and place… in the dreams you have that seem too distant and out of reach… in your self doubt and feelings of failure and being an imposter… in your addictions and the needs that dominate your thinking… in your deepest pain and brokenness, illness and heart ache… in the emptiness of being alone and the incessant noise of the crowd… May you find still and rich peace, peace that is beyond measure and understanding, peace that cuts through the collected crap and soothes your soul.

We are only people

We are only people,
We tie our hands to straining beasts,
That promise only stretching goals,
Elastic expectations, Self imposed.
We cannot reach, We are no good.
We fail at what we set ourselves,
We cannot measure up.
So stop and sit and be.
And hear the voice inside release.
Let go the ropes that pull,
The one tied to what was,
The one tied to what won’t,
The one tied to the other you,
That whips the fear within.
Sit and share the tears and tears.
Stop and sit and be.
We are only people.

Peace

Peace is an action, it is not what is left when the noise stops.
Peace is a choice, it will not materialise miraculously from nowhere.
Peace is a struggle for change, not a passive acceptance of what is.
Peace must be made by the willing and the heartbroken.
Peace must be built by lives of grace and determination.
Peace must be grown from deliberate acts of mercy and justice.
Blessed are the peacemakers.

Margins

Ripping and shredding,

Torn from the top,

Wilfully separated,

On the altar of “Us”.

Sinfully split.

Painfully parted.

Barriers bolted and raised to the roof,

Lines strongly marked in the dust of the floor,

Cemented, constructed,

dividing, defined.

We built the walls,

we tore the flesh.

We pushed them over and slammed shut the gate!

We raised the flags.

We sang the songs.

We became us,

So they became them.

And now as we wane and struggle for breath,

We open the gates and we wave,

And we “save”.

We sure up our towers,

We repaint our walls,

We gild bright our faces,

And say, “look what we’ve got!”

I dream of contrition,

Of bloody, bent knee.

Of humble demolition,

Fading power released.

Father forgive us,

We know not what we’ve done!