Thambos Books

9th March 2017

Lost Sight

                                                                                       

Like the cat, blind in her late evening, 
light has been as darkness to me.
As she, stumbling, bumping into lifeless things, 
makes her weary way around and seeks the comfort 
of the fire, warmth that she can feel but cannot see, 
so for me collisions in the dark have been showing a way through night, pain indicating that I can, at least, feel something.

The old pitiable animal doesn't know nor mind that she has no sight and never will have now.
It is enough that she can eat and sleep in curled comfort.
She is content and uncomplaining.
But for me in depression the memory of light is a tantalising false dawn, 
a life belt waving at me just beyond my ability to believe, 
a hope that is as unreal as clutching at emptiness, 
a blight of the mind that is new and lamented every morning.

But then, mercifully, wonderfully, daylight does arrive or, 
rather, night somehow dissolves. 
I accept the invitation to look again, and I see that I can see.
This darkness has passed. It is time now to look beyond it.

Top of Form

 

 

 

 

 

19th March 2017

Lego Cathedral

 

Brick by brick and patiently,

laid-down love of majesty,

the model describes a shape

and the shape points beyond.

 

Week by week and gradually,

as time once carved eternity,

the model describes a life

and the life points beyond.

 

Step by step excitedly,

completion speaks of momentary,

and the model describes an outline

and the outline points beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20th March 2017

 

Cuthbert's Day

 

In your day, unencumbered, you kept your gaze on eternity

so that you could look on life and see glory.

 

Your voice was heard telling the praise

of the intervening, incarnating, embracing power

that stretched love to no limits.

 

In your day you led in your doing

and were transparent in your bearing.

You wrote no book but were yourself the illustration

from which Christ leapt from the page.

 

You loved all that you saw in your day

even as, having looked widely,

you put it all into the upward gaze.

 

Today on your day we honour the presence that continues to bless.

 

 

 

21st March 2017

Blamed, Named, Shamed, Redeemed

Called by name; "You are mine".
Israel, wounded in the hip and limping,
a numberless tribe yet also me and mine,
known in all my need and my sinning,
but seen as complete in what is yet to be, 
and what was sealed at Calvary.

Martin, Christian-named, dead today, 
detested, respected, full of sins and turning,
to grave and beyond takes the part he played, 
like Israel a killer with a mission of serving.
The vilest offender who truly believes 
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Reviled, rejected and mocked for his name 
but 'God Saves', our Jesus, lived up to his calling.
A scandal, a nonsense, a symbol of shame, 
yet he alone, the means of reconciling
us to God, ourselves and all others,
he alone turns foes to lovers.

 

 

22nd March 2017

Good Moaning

If you know Depression you will understand 
that, within it, hope is just a baseless rumour, 
fake news propagated by a foreign land 
seeking to damn reality with a malignant tumour,

this nonsense that there is more than dread and darkness.
For doors must be shut and borders guarded
to prevent the lie that Winter ends. And so, bleakness, 
the cruel but safe refuge of the deadened-hearted,

will never end. This is all that there is.

But I tell you that for me always Winter has fled, 
melting like ice chased by warmth, blasted away, 
prison walls broken by hope risen from the dead,
seeds scattered giddily like confetti or bouquet,

Scented with joy and growing as wellness.

But don't preach it to me when Winter returns,
the ice sheets wrap like a shroud round the dead,
and hope slips away exhausted, and drowns.
Yes, send search parties. Treat where I bleed,

And be hopeful.

 

 

26th March 2017

The Cathedral is A Recording

It has been an echo chamber, this place, over the years.
It rose from the ground to describe the same mystery 
that gave it shape. Glory made it what it is, 
and cold protest carved scars that still remain.

It was stripped, once, of Christian meaning, 
put to use as a space to confine and not to liberate 
body and soul. But how to silence the soaked-in 
surround-sound of God's praise? Look around

With closed eyes. Look above with bowed head.
Lay down here whatever weights may press on you.
Add your voice to the soundtrack, your real voice, 
what you feel just now. The Cathedral is a recording.

 

 

 

3rd April 2017

 

Grave Blunder

 

Stupid of Jesus not to go to his friends 

and prevent the sick man from dying.

Silly of Jesus to say he was sleeping 

when he knew the man had been dying.

 

Useless of Jesus to stand and to weep 

when he could have just stopped the dying.

What sort of God is such a foolish Christ, 

what sort of Lord just stands crying?

 

But a man decomposing, shut in a cave, 

is unwrapped from his chrysalis, set free to fly, 

and death’s stark reversal signifies life

and points to the I am who’s always I am.

 

Lazarus lived again so he could die

belonging to life with the ever-wise God,

and Christ is the clever one, not a mere clod,

and his sign says to seers, die, live, fly.

 

 

 

9th April 2017

We Are Rememberers

Some memories imprint. 
You have clear recall of when, where, 
what, and who, sharply detailed.

Other memories blur, 
fade, lose precision, merge with other details.
It's as if it now takes more and other ingredients 
to bake the same cake!

To my mind, in my experience, 
the blurred but true memories catapult into the freshness 
of the present reality, truth freshly expressed, 
light more sharply drawn.

So, different memories are one; all are singular, all true.
As when the dead was raised incorruptible, never again to die.
And life made sense of, gave significance to the death, 
still does now. Everything falling into place makes 
the wonder of it complete. We are rememberers.

Be clear, will you, that each remembrance of it 
takes us further into mystery and wonder, 
as its truth, known by the mind, 
makes the heart pulse with the beat of joy.

 

 

21st April 2017

 

Eastering Elsewhere

 

“Come, see the place where he lay”.

 

I’m sorry I couldn’t get there this year.

I always have done before,

and joined your faithful in the breath-taken joy

of your risen presence.

 

In hospital, it seemed like any other day

except that I was still floating my way towards recovery.

Yet there was an energy upholding me;

your energy at large in the world and channelled for me

into skilful, dedicated, loving nursing;

your resurrection game-changer is the engine for all to be well.

I knew on Easter Day that it is. I saw you risen.

 

 

 

26th April 2017

Out of Darkness

Long since I came out as Depressive;
surprising myself if not others, I named it, 
gave it a shape, a shade, called a spade a spade.
I held up the pill bottle to the light.

That was before the even darker nights,
the smothering of carrying on as if normal,
the death of life and then the life of death
and so sheer bloody awful.

Each illness stops when it runs out of darkness,
surrendering at last to persistent light
that heals and restores and gives permission to live
until the next slide into the grip of night.

Ach! Don't you ever platitude to me, 
do not dare to try to cheer me out;
all you can do is bear some of my weight 
and stop me crying the final shout.

I want you to be real; "victory" here is a lie.
It is deep down dark where God's blood meets mine;
only the dead God is any use to me.
Resurrection is pure moonshine.

But after the damage, Alleluias if he lives.
If he can, so may I break out of this hell 
and sense again excitement and beauty.
Just never say I must always be well.

 

 

 

 

27th April 2017

 

Ah, Silence!

 

Ah, Silence! How I welcome you!
You're putting into me the orchestration of birdsong and breeze and the backing music of the sighing world all around.

 

I'm tuning into God's melding speech, the preparing of my soul's hearing so that I may hear him.

 

The Word, in his many forms but in what he's said for ever,

is my main attention seeker, stopping my mouth so that first I listen,

then respond.

 

In the silence may I hear the shout, take into my heart its power, say yes as I digest.

 

Let me brim over with praise.

 

 

 

29th April 2017

 

Helplessness

What is it? It is, for instance, when your lower body is paralysed, so a team of people has to move it.

And muscles which used to work automatically now have to start from scratch.

And you foul your bed and the nurses get on with changing you with no reaction except it's one of their jobs,

as when they clean your bottom while you concentrate on your struggle to stand up.

You are fresh from the womb again, they know, and they know your strength is in waiting.

You have no alternative in so many ways but to have things done to you.
But they encourage you, cajole you, bully you a bit.

"Try doing this today. See what you can do now".

Being helpless is not humiliation but it faces you up with necessity.
And for the lucky whose helplessness is only for the while,

it is the gift of weakness as well as the fact,

because this is like infancy but you can know it

and be more ready when strength fails again.

For better not worse, helplessness was all we had

when Christ took it on and died for us.
At our death, helplessness will be our gateway not our end.

There will be unimagined strength ahead and we will know it.

 

 

 

1st May 2017

 

The Transforming Story

 

Fallen so far, so deep, from Original Union

with Him who so loved that He created,

and made us humans the crown.

 

The rift that resulted disrupted the cosmos,

broke up love’s unifying harmony and

plunged all creation down, down.

 

Over centuries He spoke and led and gave

and called out a nation as a sign and a light

to mark the way back to healing and union.

 

Yet the same nation corrupted and tarnished

love into hate, pride, warfare and waste

sowing seeds of fear and confusion.

 

His Word took our flesh, as always he would,

and by sign, wonder, speech spelt the way of love

right to the end on the God-killing tree.

 

Silenced for once, he roared back in glory,

handing back humanity from the prison of Hell,

removing the scales so again we might see

 

The unspoilt beauty of eternal co-unity

penetrating time and transforming darkness,

accessed by dying like God on the tree,

 

Inhaling the Spirit bestowed by new breath

and spreading earth-wide in worship and love,

telling the news and incarnating the Word.

 

This story, unfinished, when spelt out and told,

converts and re-forms into original health,

its mission to bring all to be one with the Lord.

 

Dedicated to the memory of the Rev John Waddington-Feather,

great story teller.


5th May 2017

 

Eastering Slowly

 

That morning, they didn't half rush: 

the women to tell the Apostles, 

they to see for themselves, 

the guards to the Bosses who told them to hush.

 

Cleopas and his companion hurried back from Emmaus,

stumbling out their story as quick as they could.

The Evangelists hurry to tell their story: 

what does that actually imply to us?

 

Not to rush over the Resurrection accounts.

Why don't we dwell there longer than we do?

We know them, actually, from yearly repetition 

instead of reflecting on how it all counts.

 

So what I'm simply saying is, wait and see.

Jesus, after all, left Thomas a whole week.

And perhaps, like Thomas, our response will be deeper,

a deeper awareness of risen Deity

 

 

 

6th May 2017

Autumn in Advance

Planning for it begins way earlier, 
if you are a party conference organiser, 
book launcher, 
new clothing range promoter, 
syllabus writer
TV exec or the like.

Anyone else gets caught out, of course.
You find the barbecue at last, too late.
You finally achieve your beach body look, too late.
Your campaign to catch those weeds in your garden was a great plan, but too late.
But you can now swim in the North Sea.

You've reached a significant age.
Have your pension plans got off the ground?
How are you coping with your third leg?
Aren't you glad that you can hand back your little grand-darlings at the end of your shift?
Yes, you may find it sensible to have your main cooking adventure earlier in the day.

Autumn brings splendid colours in nature and on head.
There is often an Indian Summer.
Coolness in the prevailing weather can be a relief.
Perspective is good. There is enough of the current year to make a judgement on as well as tentative guesses.
It is a preparation for, a warning about and a gathering in of fruit that will stand in good stead for Winter.

Welcome Autumn. If you're spared, 
there may be another one next year.
If you're not, it's because seasons will no longer be of any concern to you at all.

 

 

 

7th May 2017

Dawn Chorus

 

With sounds recorded far away yet ringing as near as breath itself,

I feel as if I am there, hovering over the flooded peatlands

that have become a wetland habitat for once absent flocks.

 

I wish for something profound to come to my mind,

but it is what I am hearing that is carving so deeply into awareness,

as dawn becomes day now and birds whose names I so quickly forget

prepare for business as the chorus subsides.

 

This spectacular, surging, receding wonder contradicts

all mechanistic accounts of life on earth.

When life itself cries Glory,

mind in humankind must allow its heart liberty to worship.

 

 

 

8th May 2017

When Weak

Power turned into weakness when Jesus 
was captured in the Garden, 
bound and falsely accused, 
spat on, humiliated and whipped, 
nailed to the cross and killed.

In unprecedented humility he allowed it to happen.

In his own utter weakness God displays his power, 
as when, having made the crucifixion into a triumph,
he descended into the lower parts of the earth, 
then ascended far above the heavens 
that he might fill all things.

In my weakness and delirium, someone told me I had Pneumonia. Pneumonia killed my Dad. 
I did look death in the face and I wept 
when I remembered my loved ones.

But he who fills all things filled my lung. 
By his grace medicine and love cured me.
They brought me round, and showed me 
Christ on the ward on Easter Day.
He sent me home to prosper, 
and bodily weakness turned to strength.

How may I now serve? May I continue to know 
his glorified presence in my body and soul?
May I play my part in the one body, his body, 
to whom the gifts that he distributed are 
for building us up until we reach his own stature, 
united in the love by which we shall see him?

God grant me to continue in his weakness.

 

 

 

10th May 2017

On Psalm 135

Always good, unchangeable in what he is, 
tender and compassionate to all his creation, 
God yet shows himself to his chosen people as a killer.

Yahweh God, the ground of all existence, 
drowns the enslavers in pursuit by tsunami-like force.
He uproots the pagan tribes from their homelands, 
kings and warlords, idols and savage practices,
their women and little children, 
in favour of the rag-tag, straggling strangers
who have yet to prove that they are faithful.

 

Their story will unfold and display extremes of
adherence to and desertion from the ways of God.
Their prophets, priests, Judges and Kings 
will model and disfigure the image within them.


Time and again they will be called to account, 
rebuked by those God sends to them,
called back to their first love, 
but time and again it ends in tears.

 

So it goes on, hearing and disobeying, 
seeing but blurring what he shows of himself.
They accumulate Psalms of praise and worship, 
but their lives tell a different story.

 

Such is the sorry tale of a people who, 
chosen as they are, clutch the God of all 
as their tribal superhero.

 

 

 

 

11th May 2017

 

When I Write I Live

 

Oh, I am stymied!

The writer says: Depressed?

Then write, be healed.

But, depressed, I cannot write.

I cannot hear the music,

listen out for the rhythm.

There is silence, nothing revealed.

 

Sure, the horrendous squeeze

of the deep dark pressurises:

there is hidden pearl-making

by the irritation of the grit.

It spills out later, but is made then, I realise. 

 

Poetry makes me live.

I agree with her here: poets live as they write.

When I am dead in the dark I am dark and dead,

but the first new word spells the end of that night.

 

The long silence is the pause between breaths,

the wait in the grave, then the call to rise.

And, like resurrection, newly-taken air is me made new,

seeing again with fresh-made eyes.

 

I am writing, so living.

It pulses like the beat.

This is the heart of me,

this is my call.

To hear and to learn is as good as to eat.

 

 

12th May 2017

 

Forty Years On

 

Lena from Sweden was our honoured guest.

Bishop Victor gave her a cuddle.

And everything was so simple then.

Only others could be in a muddle.

 

There was no sex in Church in the seventies,

and certainly never a Raffle,

but much reproduction as people were saved,

and Synods were causing kerfuffles. 

 

What a great Church it was to train a green man,

What friendships which still give us joy.

That life still goes on in a much changed world,

and Jesus still saves this old boy.

 

 

 

15th May 2017

 

Notes from the Upper Room

 

The way to the Father is the journey back home

to complete oneness, wholeness, lack of lack, absence of need.

Light that has never darkened will be our light,

and will open our eyes as never before. 


But there in the upper room hearing Jesus announce

that he was leaving, not knowing then what I know now,

my heart was troubled.

I had a panic attack, unable to imagine life without Jesus.

Going away? How could he? I shook, trembling.

My fists clenched in rage, fear, grief and confusion.

Come here, he said. He took my hands in his

and placed one over his heart. I felt its steady beat.

I myself am the journey you are taking.

Where you will be going, right as far as death

I will have been first, and beyond.

Trust me now as you have before.

I am life itself and I am true,

and as you feel it, believe it.

So much went on to happen, in his life and in mine.

Descent into the pit and the unimaginable display

of eternity's victory over the worst that evil can do.

I have discovered that He is the way to the Father,

and living and true, and the way goes back home.

 

March 2017

Lost Sight

                                                                                       

Like the cat, blind in her late evening, 
light has been as darkness to me.
As she, stumbling, bumping into lifeless things, 
makes her weary way around and seeks the comfort 
of the fire, warmth that she can feel but cannot see, 
so for me collisions in the dark have been showing a way through night, pain indicating that I can, at least, feel something.

The old pitiable animal doesn't know nor mind that she has no sight and never will have now.
It is enough that she can eat and sleep in curled comfort.
She is content and uncomplaining.
But for me in depression the memory of light is a tantalising false dawn, 
a life belt waving at me just beyond my ability to believe, 
a hope that is as unreal as clutching at emptiness, 
a blight of the mind that is new and lamented every morning.

But then, mercifully, wonderfully, daylight does arrive or, 
rather, night somehow dissolves. 
I accept the invitation to look again, and I see that I can see.
This darkness has passed. It is time now to look beyond it.

Top of Form

 

 

 


 

19th March 2017

Lego Cathedral

 

Brick by brick and patiently,

laid-down love of majesty,

the model describes a shape

and the shape points beyond.

 

Week by week and gradually,

as time once carved eternity,

the model describes a life

and the life points beyond.

 

Step by step excitedly,

completion speaks of momentary,

and the model describes an outline

and the outline points beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

20th March 2017

 

Cuthbert's Day

 

In your day, unencumbered, you kept your gaze on eternity

so that you could look on life and see glory.

 

Your voice was heard telling the praise

of the intervening, incarnating, embracing power

that stretched love to no limits.

 

In your day you led in your doing

and were transparent in your bearing.

You wrote no book but were yourself the illustration

from which Christ leapt from the page.

 

You loved all that you saw in your day

even as, having looked widely,

you put it all into the upward gaze.

 

Today on your day we honour the presence that continues to bless.

 


 

21st March 2017

Blamed, Named, Shamed, Redeemed

Called by name; "You are mine".
Israel, wounded in the hip and limping,
a numberless tribe yet also me and mine,
known in all my need and my sinning,
but seen as complete in what is yet to be, 
and what was sealed at Calvary.

Martin, Christian-named, dead today, 
detested, respected, full of sins and turning,
to grave and beyond takes the part he played, 
like Israel a killer with a mission of serving.
The vilest offender who truly believes 
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Reviled, rejected and mocked for his name 
but 'God Saves', our Jesus, lived up to his calling.
A scandal, a nonsense, a symbol of shame, 
yet he alone, the means of reconciling
us to God, ourselves and all others,
he alone turns foes to lovers.


 

22nd March 2017

Good Moaning

If you know Depression you will understand 
that, within it, hope is just a baseless rumour, 
fake news propagated by a foreign land 
seeking to damn reality with a malignant tumour,

this nonsense that there is more than dread and darkness.
For doors must be shut and borders guarded
to prevent the lie that Winter ends. And so, bleakness, 
the cruel but safe refuge of the deadened-hearted,

will never end. This is all that there is.

But I tell you that for me always Winter has fled, 
melting like ice chased by warmth, blasted away, 
prison walls broken by hope risen from the dead,
seeds scattered giddily like confetti or bouquet,

Scented with joy and growing as wellness.

But don't preach it to me when Winter returns,
the ice sheets wrap like a shroud round the dead,
and hope slips away exhausted, and drowns.
Yes, send search parties. Treat where I bleed,

And be hopeful.


 

26th March 2017

The Cathedral is A Recording

It has been an echo chamber, this place, over the years.
It rose from the ground to describe the same mystery 
that gave it shape. Glory made it what it is, 
and cold protest carved scars that still remain.

It was stripped, once, of Christian meaning, 
put to use as a space to confine and not to liberate 
body and soul. But how to silence the soaked-in 
surround-sound of God's praise? Look around

With closed eyes. Look above with bowed head.
Lay down here whatever weights may press on you.
Add your voice to the soundtrack, your real voice, 
what you feel just now. The Cathedral is a recording.

 


 

3rd April 2017

 

Grave Blunder

 

Stupid of Jesus not to go to his friends 

and prevent the sick man from dying.

Silly of Jesus to say he was sleeping 

when he knew the man had been dying.

 

Useless of Jesus to stand and to weep 

when he could have just stopped the dying.

What sort of God is such a foolish Christ, 

what sort of Lord just stands crying?

 

But a man decomposing, shut in a cave, 

is unwrapped from his chrysalis, set free to fly, 

and death’s stark reversal signifies life

and points to the I am who’s always I am.

 

Lazarus lived again so he could die

belonging to life with the ever-wise God,

and Christ is the clever one, not a mere clod,

and his sign says to seers, die, live, fly.

 


 

9th April 2017

We Are Rememberers

Some memories imprint. 
You have clear recall of when, where, 
what, and who, sharply detailed.

Other memories blur, 
fade, lose precision, merge with other details.
It's as if it now takes more and other ingredients 
to bake the same cake!

To my mind, in my experience, 
the blurred but true memories catapult into the freshness 
of the present reality, truth freshly expressed, 
light more sharply drawn.

So, different memories are one; all are singular, all true.
As when the dead was raised incorruptible, never again to die.
And life made sense of, gave significance to the death, 
still does now. Everything falling into place makes 
the wonder of it complete. We are rememberers.

Be clear, will you, that each remembrance of it 
takes us further into mystery and wonder, 
as its truth, known by the mind, 
makes the heart pulse with the beat of joy.


 

21st April 2017

 

Eastering Elsewhere

 

“Come, see the place where he lay”.

 

I’m sorry I couldn’t get there this year.

I always have done before,

and joined your faithful in the breath-taken joy

of your risen presence.

 

In hospital, it seemed like any other day

except that I was still floating my way towards recovery.

Yet there was an energy upholding me;

your energy at large in the world and channelled for me

into skilful, dedicated, loving nursing;

your resurrection game-changer is the engine for all to be well.

I knew on Easter Day that it is. I saw you risen.

 


 

26th April 2017

Out of Darkness

Long since I came out as Depressive;
surprising myself if not others, I named it, 
gave it a shape, a shade, called a spade a spade.
I held up the pill bottle to the light.

That was before the even darker nights,
the smothering of carrying on as if normal,
the death of life and then the life of death
and so sheer bloody awful.

Each illness stops when it runs out of darkness,
surrendering at last to persistent light
that heals and restores and gives permission to live
until the next slide into the grip of night.

Ach! Don't you ever platitude to me, 
do not dare to try to cheer me out;
all you can do is bear some of my weight 
and stop me crying the final shout.

I want you to be real; "victory" here is a lie.
It is deep down dark where God's blood meets mine;
only the dead God is any use to me.
Resurrection is pure moonshine.

But after the damage, Alleluias if he lives.
If he can, so may I break out of this hell 
and sense again excitement and beauty.
Just never say I must always be well.

 

 


 

27th April 2017

 

Ah, Silence!

 

Ah, Silence! How I welcome you!
You're putting into me the orchestration of birdsong and breeze and the backing music of the sighing world all around.

 

I'm tuning into God's melding speech, the preparing of my soul's hearing so that I may hear him.

 

The Word, in his many forms but in what he's said for ever,

is my main attention seeker, stopping my mouth so that first I listen,

then respond.

 

In the silence may I hear the shout, take into my heart its power, say yes as I digest.

 

Let me brim over with praise.

 

 

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