Friday, March 30, 2007

They took him down

Before Him shall bow all who go down to the dust
and he who cannot keep himself alive. Psalm 22:29
They took him down
His crumpled, pierced body, destroyed by the world
to which he came.
Beyond hope
Beyond life
Sentenced to the dust that rose up to meet him.
Did they cry for him? Did wailing fill the air?
Were breasts beaten and clothing torn
as minds and hearts struggled to comprehend the ending of what had seemed to be a beginning?
What does the heart do when hope is extinguished?
Where does the mind run to when all the answers are removed?
There was nothing left to feel...nothing left to think...
They took him down
His crumpled, pierced body
And took it for burial.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Father Forgive

Father forgive them: they know not what they do.
They do not realise that the choices they make have such repercussions.
They do not know that it is easier to end a war than to begin it.
They do not recognise the moment when their words slice into flesh.
They know not how to raise their children without expectations weighing heavy on the shoulders of the young, so that each generation is burdened with the unfulfilled desires of the last.
Father forgive them; they live
as though unseeing, as though unhearing.
They do not recognise the song of the planets
They do not open their eyes to the specks of stardust floating in the air.
They act, they react, they pretend
that they understand, that they have comprehension of the voices
that reach out to them from across the wastelands of time and understanding.
The voices of those who have made the same mistakes, time after time,
and spent aeons in regret
that no one listened out and learned from them.
Each generation failing to know, failing to recognise the moment
when God put himself at our mercy
and stretched out his hands to break bread
to take the pain and not to rise up against it
to touch and not to harm
to accept and not expect
to know, and not be known.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Psalm 22:14 : I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; it is melted within my lay me in the dust of death.
Luke 23:33 : When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals.
Three years have I toiled in the dust and the heat of this land.
Thirty-three years of walking amongst this beloved and recalcitrant race:
Now there is nothing left to do
but endure, and count down the moments
until I rest my head and body in death.
I, who held newborn stars in the palm of my hand
and trod the galaxies in my pursuit of beauty;
I now stretch out my arms to receive the blows of metal on metal, driven
through my very flesh. I surrender
my hands, my feet, to a different pursuit; they are no longer mine to control
but are abandoned to the whim of evil.
My flesh is not my own; it belongs to this place now,
given over to the pain and degradation of punishment,
keeping company with those despised or forgotten by polite society.
I will be raised up
stretching wide my arms to embrace even this -

Monday, March 12, 2007

Stripping bare

John 19:23 : ...they took his clothes and divided them...
Philippians 2:5-8 : ...he emptied himself...
To Strip: To take or pull clothing off. To denude, lay bare, to empty completely.
To deprive, despoil, divest, dismantle.
To loot, pillage, plunder, rob, ransack.
They have stripped you bare, Lord.
They have robbed you of your covering, even the mocking robe. You stand
quietly, dignified even, despite the little dignity afforded you.
They have taken away everything they can - your respectability,
your status, your security. Perhaps they were never there to take.
you emptied yourself, long before these representatives of humanity
laid their hands upon you. An offering, not a ransacking. Your choice,
Not ours.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Women of Jerusalem

Luke 23: 27 - 31
Dear hearts, do not weep now.
Let me whisper it: there is pain to come.
To live is to suffer. To be human is to know loss,
and dark days, and darker hours before the dawn.
Hold me now, for a moment; cling fast
and do not let go. Whisper it again
to your children, to yourselves:
There is pain to come. That much is inevitable. Do not pretend otherwise.
But remember this: I know it too.


Matthew 27: 32 : As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.

I cannot pretend that I come willingly.

I imagined myself as a spectator, perhaps cheering, maybe jeering. This participation isn't me.

Now I have blood on my hands, splinters and callouses; the war wounds of a kindness that I did not choose. The pounding relentless noise of a thirsty crowd in my ears. The overwhelming weight upon my shoulders, the weight of a sentence that isn't mine.

There is hot dust underfoot. The feet of the crowd form a walkway, a tunnel towards the hill. I can see my feet, slipping and staggering under the enforced burden. I see too his feet, walking lightly towards their inevitable fracturing. Our feet fall in step; he slips as I slip, staggers as I stagger. The weight is shared now. For a brief moment of time it is not his burden, nor mine: it is ours. Then it is taken from me, and is no longer mine.

He walks off, more slowly than I; I remain, feeling light and no longer wanting to watch. I am still part of it, my thoughts remaining with him even though he has gone on ahead.

I am compelled.


The following thoughts are based on the traditional idea of following the stations of the cross, and are in some part inspired by the images that accompany them. These are the stations from Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, sculpted by Sean Rice. There are 14 such sculptures, and greater minds than mine have already written meditations based upon them. I have chosen 8 that particularly spoke to me; I hope they help you too, in this season of Lent. I will post them all over the next couple of weeks.
Matthew 27: 15 - 26
I wash my hands of you, Man God.
You stand there, unmoved by my vascillations.
Refusing to cooperate with my well-drawn plans
Denying me the answers to my well-chosen questions.
Failing to show me a way out
that would put an end to this state of doubt and indecision.
You speak of truth: what is truth?
How can I find it, when you will not speak?
You leave me no option but to deny you, to turn away,
to leave you to your fate.
How can I be culpable?
I who recognised your goodness, your innocence
I who tried to protect you.
Your eyes speak of suffering; your body seems to tense
Anticipating the pain and the indignity to come.
Yet you are silent, still;
like the ocean as it draws back
Anticipating the turning of the tide.
I wash my hands of you, Man God:
If you will not speak, then
I will no longer speak for you.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Every time I think life in the Wheelybin is hectic enough, someone cranks up the gear and we end up running even faster just to stand still.

Last week saw the performances of the play Jordan has been rehearsing since Christmas, 'Alice and the Jabberwock'. The director had very sensibly cast 2 Alices, one for part one (in Wonderland) and one for part two (the Looking Glass). Jordan was Alice two, so had to deal with Jam Tomorrow, 6 Impossible Things, and a Vorpal Sword (what is a vorpal sword, anyway?). She also had 2 solos to sing. Not bad for a kid who was, until recently, terrified to stand in front of an audience, and wouldn't open her mouth to sing.

Last week also saw Bristol Dermatology Centre hosting the South West & Wales conference. It was the first time we had laid on a concurrent conference for specialist nurses, and was an organisational nightmare. As well as that pressure, I was one of the main speakers for the nurses bit (shoehorning 6 hours of material into half an hour? Hmmm... talking of impossible things...). The conference finished with a meal at 6:30pm, I arranged with a very helpful taxi driver to get me across town to the school for the second half of 'Alice' so I turned up there a bit tired & emotional.

We have also recently started a new venture at church. Every third Sunday we are helping to run a 'Cafe Church' instead of the normal evening service (7pm St Matts Kingdown, if you're interested). Its a great opportunity to get to know people, discuss issues of interest, be a bit creative, listen to cool music (but no singing!), participate in some contemplative worship, be fairly silly, and eat lots of cake. Pretty much my favourite things to do. The last one was on healing, and we had a competition to see which table had been the 'most healed' (judged on the collective length of scars). Next week it's the turn of 'Temptation'. Perhaps we'll make the cakes, but refuse to let anyone eat them.

Other pressures at the moment? Well, I am still continuing on my quest to redicover my waistline, visiting the gym 3 times a week... we've sold our house, have had an offer accepted but are waiting on the vendors finding somewhere to go... Richard's mum is in hospital in London, finally getting the specialist treatment she needs... I've got to prepare a presentation for the bigwig managers in the primary care trusts for Friday, justifying the money they spend on dermatology nursing (this time fitting 1 hour's info into 5 minutes. Ho hum...)... and I think I may have just agreed to take on something extra at church. Because life really wasn't impossible enough.