Tag Archives: Poetry

A Man of White

Hanging from a tree among the trees – a man of white.

Such blue surrounds us.

Leaves gently move on a soft breeze.

.

I look to him.

Hard, dirty suffering – when will it end?

Comfort comes, comfort of a human solidarity now divine.

.

You draw my attention inwards to you.

Gently and wonderfully I feel isolation become compassion within.

You make the death of suffering a new life thing.

.

A Crow lands, bearing witness to change.

Black is mind accepting its place.

Black is the light of your presence.

.

This man of white hangs before me.

My master, my brother, my friend.

He asks that compassion become an energy of loving embrace.

.

He is love in my deepest place.

That ‘no-place’ that intellect tries to claim

But does not understand.

.

The white man, hanging, claims this ‘no-place’

Gives it freely to me.

It was there all along.

.

Live from that hidden place

Where the white man hangs no more.

Let his compassion be yours.


The River and the Bridge V

The inner movement from head to the heart often requires an outer journey. For many fear can keep us in our heads, while the God of our hearts invites a journey downwards. This journey can take our whole lives. On this journey we are drawn, more fully and deeply, into our hearts – the place of connection, relationship and longing. On this journey to our hearts we can encounter Love and experience something of Love’s divine character. We discover that Divine Love is the profoundest Love.

On this journey of our consciousness into Love, God respects our freedom. God never forces. As awareness journeys downwards deeper into our hearts, we experience a God of gentleness, tenderness, and infinite patience. This Love respectfully and faithfully heals us into a clearing vision and true experience of who we really are.

Love wants to move within us, unrestrained by fear, to sweep us ever deeper into the Love life of God. It is us who limit God and all that God would want to do. All we need do is ask Love ever more fully into our lives – into our hearts and into our conscious minds. As this happens we come to truly understand that fear is not divine.

God would have us experience the liberty that is the absence of fear, a liberty in which we are re-introduced again and again to our own hearts. Love knows our hearts and would never act in ways contrary to them. God keeps our hearts safe. We reveal God as Love when living out of the liberty of a human life that is being love-filled and growing in fearlessness.

V

And so I walk again and I curse You!

‘Who are You, what do You want of me?’

‘I thought I knew what I wanted. Answer me!’

Tears of anger and longing flow,

Enough to ease the tension in me.

The walk is now prayer.

Awareness moves downwards.

I come again to the valley with the river below.

Now the rocky edge is too far from the river.

The River within seeks the river without.

I know deep down what needs to be done.

Will I be faithful?

Through the cool of the Eye of the Needle I descend,

In search of the river, in search of my heart.

At the bottom of a gully I come to an expansive cave

Formed by water and wind, water long gone on its way down.

Is this close enough to Love?

I see what the water has done,

Worn down the rockface, propelled trees and boulders in its wake.

Sometimes Love can be unrestrained,

It can show its strength,

It can leave its mark.

The water has shown the way down

And feeling the River’s pull anew,

I now see a new path to descend.

As I begin again a new resolve claims me:

‘If it’s what I really want to do, I’ll do it!’

I feel the force of this resolve, it is real

And I embrace it.

Prayers form my descent:

‘I am a man of courage! Help me not to run from myself, from You.’

‘Help me to see what I really want.’

‘Please uncover what might be hidden.’

‘If I really want it, I promise I will do it!’

The going down takes its physical toll,

And all the while I feel the River’s draw.

On and on I push engaged in a Holy Quest,

A task of faithful endurance,

Of faithfulness to Love and to myself.

I see it emerge from behind the trees: the river.

I come to its bank.

It is smooth, engaging, graceful.

Light reflects on its surface.

I feel the movement of the River within me.

I lay on its bank, far from the bridge, and I wait,

Too exhausted to think.

Time passes.

I feel like a kid again.

Down the river people jump from Tower Rock and into the water.

Playfully I entertain the same idea.

I feel like a kid again.

‘I would’ve done it you know’ I say.

‘I would’ve done it if I really, really wanted to.’

Love knows and Love revels in my faithfulness.

Peace and joy flow from the gut.


The River and the Bridge IV

We are made for love – to be in it and expressing it. And so we are made for God – to be in God and expressing God. For this to happen God is always inviting us to know God. Indeed we are invited by God to be growing in conscious union with God. For the Christian this means becoming one with Jesus Christ.  This growing in union with Christ is at the heart of Christian spirituality. As this happens we find ourselves giving our hearts, our minds, our lives more and more to the Divine. In this is our greatest happiness. In this we discover how we can love, who we can be.

The movement to union, however, is a movement of trust. Many of us feel great tension and perhaps confusion when a longing for God and life is being experienced concurrently with a fear of what this God and life could do with us. Because of this tension the movement towards union with Christ can at times be filled with uncertainty, fear and anxiousness. We move back and forth between experiences of fear and experiences of Love. This is an understandable dynamic in the dance of human deification. God wants us with God. We struggle and resist. We long for God and are afraid. But God knows our heart and never forces. When we trust enough to say yes, having been worn out enough by our own struggle, something happens: God can show us the desires of our heart and offers saving help so that we may live into them. As we accept God’s saving help, we can grow in relationship and union with the Divine. In this way the living into our heart’s desires also becomes a living into God. And in time we may discover that the desire for God and the desire to know our heart are the same desire. Why is this? It is because the deepest desires of our heart are for a love that only God can provide. God offers this love simply by being God’s self: Love. An opening heart cannot resist the Love it was made for.

The Divine is the profoundest Love – gentle, tender, respectful, ultimate, and faithful. Fear is not divine. In the end there is nothing to fear.

IV

But surly there is logic in discerning life from a distance?

The bridge oversees all and is safe enough,

Away from the river’s murky depths.

And yet –

Is it the place from which to truly live?

Is being safe enough, enough?

What is the greater risk: distance from life or depth in life?

Where does my heart call me?

It calls me to the river below, to the River within.

Fear rises again,

Like the great concrete legs

That rise from the earth keeping the bridge far from the valley.

Fear takes me away, as it often does,

Away to the ‘safety’ of this distance.

And in the safety of the rational only,

Far away from my relational heart,

I stand on the bridge.

But how I hunger for the depths of the River,

To lose fearful awareness at the bottom of You.

To fall past Your shimmering,

And into Love.

I feel my deep longing for You.

And I fear what Love may have for me.

I fear what Love may uncover in my heart,

How life could change when lived with Love.

The experience of fear and the longing for Love

Create anxious tension in me as old as the human walk itself.

What will I lose if I embrace my heart?

Frustration builds and anger flares,

Energies that must be expressed,

Or I will lose myself to blackness.


The River and the Bridge III

If God is real and God is Love, then God lives in us as Love. In our deepest places, we long for this Love. Divine Love is stronger than fear. If we dare allow ourselves to be open to this Love it can stir a longing and restlessness that fear cannot satisfy. Fear can stop us from opening our hearts and minds, from even knowing how to open. It can contribute to a lack of trust and believe in God, ourselves, others, life itself. If God is real and God is Love, well what will this Love ask of us?

III

From grey to green, to yellow, to silver, to gold,

The river’s reflection is a welcome, an invitation to its depths.

Through its being it announces a more humble way:

Lose your willfulness,

Let Love flow gently into the cracks and crevices of your heart.

Oh River of Love what will you ask of me?

What will it cost me to flow more deeply in Your ways?

I am afraid.

What will Love ask of me?


The River and the Bridge II

Here is the second part of The River and the Bridge. This section introduces us to a nearby bridge. This bridge stands in contrast to the valley that it rises above. The bridge is quite substantial – it carries a major motorway known as the M5. While the river and its valley are about being and living with God, the bridge (standing so far above and distant) is about the times when we attempt to live without including Divine Love in our conscious lives. When we do this it could  mean ego is for some reason afraid. When I am in this pattern of fearful distance I can often become overly rational, thinking too much about questions best answered in the actual living of a human life with God.

II

Bellbirds vie with car tyres.

Straight across, up and down, and in the distance,

Stands the bridge.

With legs hewn deep into the earth

It spans this valley of vulnerable embrace,

Majestic lines sailing above a living reach.

The bridge is a creation of rational strength,

Strong enough it seems to out-will the strongest wind,

Dug deep enough to out-manoeuvre the river itself.

It stands apart from the embrace below.

Sometimes I stand apart from the embrace below.

Fearing the risk I think vulnerability contains,

I prefer a straight driving course,

An outward appearance of strength.


The River and the Bridge I

At the beginning of this year (2010) I went on a 9 day silent retreat to a place called St. Mary’s Towers. St Mary’s Towers is in an area on the south western edge of Sydney (Australia) called Douglas Park. It is situated on a property of 500 hectares. There are a series of bush walking tracks around the property that people are welcome to use. The whole area is a wonderful place in which to seek and meet God. St. Mary’s Towers is owned and run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

While on retreat I did some writing. This writing became a record of sorts of my retreat experience. The writing soon took the form of a kind of prose poem (if there is such a thing) and took the title ‘The River and the Bridge’. Part one of this writing record is below.

The River and the Bridge

(A record of retreat in the Octave of Epiphany 2010)

I

I stand on a rocky edge,

Where below the dead and the living mingle

In a scene that seems to have always been.

There is new life in the valley below:

Growth at the point of age,

Supple green escaping from the grey.

I took a walk to this valley

Unsure of what I might find.

I found a beauty mid-expression,

And this beauty stirred the eternal in me.

Trees fall away to the river below.

Over time this river has worked with earth and rock,

Seeking out vulnerable places.

The river does not reject the vulnerable.

It finds it in the soft earth,

The fragile rock.

The river embraces vulnerable places,

Making its home in them.

There is a River in me seeking out vulnerable places,

The River of Love,

The living water of which Jesus speaks.

Dare I let it reveal those places I hide from myself?

As the river retreats into the valley below,

It speaks of another retreat

Into my own vulnerable places

From where Love calls and in which Love waits.


Harmony Amid The Waves

For some time now I have been a member of a Christian Community here in Sydney. The community is called Josephite Community Aid (JCA). JCA provides community supported volunteer experiences for people aged 18-35. We help our volunteers experience journeying with others who find themselves ‘on the edges’ of what Australian culture calls normal living. Currently our volunteers are with refugees (arriving mostly from Africa) and also with people living in boarding houses in the Inner West of Sydney (who usually have some kind of mental illness). Check out our website at http://www.jcaid.com.

Four times a year we take three or four bus loads of people who are new arrivals into Australia away to the beach. The vast majority of these people have never experienced a beach in their lifetime. It is a wonderful experience to introduce someone to an Aussie beach and an Aussie wave. The poem below was written after such as experience. Enjoy!

 

Harmony Amid the Waves

Waves roll in and wash away the uncertainty between us.

Black, brown and white come together on the beach.

 

Boys with eager eyes snaffle the boards,

Hungry to at once feel the push of current

And the comfort of innocence.

 

Young girls scream.

Their fearful delight echoes back from the foam:

Three steps forward

Then a hasty retreat back to our arms

As a heavy set rolls in.

 

Hand in hand we face the unknown

What will the next wave do?

 

Locals somehow know that you are here at the edge of your new home for the first time.

They smile as they see you discover what they have always known: the wonder of this place.

Perhaps their hearts open to you

Just as ours have.

 

We mingle between the flags

Aussies becoming known to each other.

The refugee experience may be fresh in your lives,

Or settled into the living history of our family trees:

Our great great grandparents

Your mum and dad

You

Us

Together.

 

Together we face what is to come

Embracing the newness

Holding each other

As we support you in your new experience.

 

For that is what we do – support you in your new experience:

Of the waves, of a new culture, a strange English.

Supported amid all the unknown subtleties that can buffet and strain

Amid the trauma of a present living past.

 

We support you as this Great Southern Land takes you

Shapes you,

Makes you new and yet somehow still the same.

We know something of its flavour and power

Let us help you take it all in,

For you have helped us to see what we take for granted

And to remember the blessings we forgot.


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