God and Jesus

My poems sometimes include experiences of the Buddha, or of George Fox, or of who knows what other mysterious aspects of the previously unknown spiritual life. My relationships with God and Jesus have also manifested in this period in different ways. Here are some poems that explore aspects of those relationships.

On Chesil Beach

If God’s first language is silence
his second must be the soft shift of the shingle
on Chesil beach
as early morning waves
fall lightly upon the pebble shore
and swish a little up and shush a little down
and swish a little up and shush a little down.

And if God’s first form is the earth
then a good place to realise this is
on Chesil beach
where you can prostrate yourself at sunrise
burrow your face gently into the shingle
breathe the air through small stones
pull your tongue through polished stones
taste the faint tang of salt
and kiss the delicious earth with your lips
and kiss the delicious earth with your lips.

And if God’s first instinct is love
then a good place to realise this is
on Chesil beach
where infinite waves of energy
roll towards you through the sea
and, leaving the water upon the shore,
roll endlessly on through you
and into the world beyond.
On Chesil beach
love rolls endlessly on through you
and into the world beyond.

 

If you’ve been in contact

If you’ve been in contact with God
and then lost touch

then nothing
not food nor drink nor fun
not nature nor sea nor sun
not people nor love nor sex
will touch the gloom of loss.

Only God can substitute for God.

Invite God back in
let God smile and return
and then even the dust has meaning.

 

In this lemon light of a winter dawn

In this lemon light of a winter dawn
make me an instrument of your love.

Shape me as a vessel of your compassion
fill me with love till I overflow
flush from me the dregs of my fear and shame
make of me a jug with a true lip
so that my outpourings may stream
so that the subtle bliss of my happiness may flow
wherever knots of suffering are in need of ease.

In this lemon light of a winter dawn
make me a vessel of your love.

 

Culbone

I entered Culbone
tiniest of churches
and sat within, consenting to God, to all.

I saw how each thing we say
however stumbling
also contains all that is unsaid.

We may enter any statement
however stumbling
and, listening carefully, hear all that is unsaid
and from there know perfect wholeness
smile-bringer, joy-bringer.

At a certain point in the month we see
low in the darkening western sky
the sliver of new moon
containing in her arms
the faintest reflection of the old moon.

I entered Culbone
tiniest of churches
and found not a space of inadequacy
but an opening to all.

 

Heart

I said to God,
‘I long for your love so much.
Even though I am a poor soul
if I give you all my heart, will you give me yours?’

And God said to me,
‘I cannot give you my heart
for heart is all that I am
and all that I am, including you,
is heart.’

 

I wandered in your woods drenched in autumn colour

I wandered in your woods drenched in autumn colour.
I walked a long way then found your door open to me.
I recognised your voice of welcome
calling me in, calling me in.

In your oratory of simplicity and rounded walls
I was bathed in the sweet voices of your sisters
devoted to you, devoted to you.

I recognised your voice of wisdom and was at home.
I sat within your peace, within your peace.

When your bowl of mystery came round
I ate your bread and tasted the sharp tang of your wine.
I took them into my body and my blood.
I know nothing about you, nothing about you.

I wander in your woods drenched in love.
I give myself to your embrace, your embrace.
I wander in your woods drenched in love.
I give myself to your embrace, your embrace.

 

Here is the fruit of my lips

Here is the churchyard
with the remains of those from this village
who have gone before.

Here is the path, past the huge beech-tree
through the morning sunshine and the birdsong
to the church door
which is open
which invites me in.

Here is the simplicity of a small English church
a space of solitary silence, of peace
with plaques on the walls for those who died
with a list of incumbents going way back
some of whom spent their lives here
one of whom became Archbishop.

Here is a wooden pew at the front
in which I sit
in which I lean forward as though in prayer
resting on my arms, my mouth close to the wood
in which I realise an unlooked for sense of belonging
of being at home
and here at once come the tears
that will not stop
running from my eyes
soaking the handkerchief dragged from my pocket.

Here is the lost boy grieving for his father.
Here is realisation that you did hear me
all those years ago
when I prayed so hard for his return
and that you loved me with infinite sadness
even as you said “No”.

Here is the compassion of the Buddha and of God
looking down kindly on another one who weeps.

Here are more tears at your generosity
at your love and immediate acceptance
of one who has been away so long
cut off and rational, irritated and contemptuous.

Here is the sweet little tiled chancel
with the stained glass window
with the simple cross
the silence and the presence of love
and the step on which I kneel and sway a little.

Here are the coloured tiles which call to me
on which I lie prostrate
spread out before you
below you, above you
within you.

Here is the soft solid coolness of the tiles
holding me at last
holding the body which I have carried alone so long
accepting the heat of my passion
drawing it from me
cooling me, soothing me.

Here are delicate lips with which I so tenderly kiss
the tiles of your ground.

Here in the soft solitary silence
is love in you, love in me, love.

Here in the end is movement
back to the pew.

Here is an afterthought
as I’m leaving
a bible beside me on the pew
opened randomly for guidance:

Repentance to bring blessing.

Return O Israel to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously
that we may offer the fruit of our lips…
… for in you the fatherless find compassion.

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