Spring 2000
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Devotional Verse

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After T S Eliot's Macavity the Mystery Cat

Christianity's such a mystery that I wonder more and more
How I really can accept its bizarre mix of love and law.
I've tried to chuck it in, because it frankly drives me spare,
But when I turn my back, I find that God's still standing there.

Christianity, Christianity, there's nothing like Christianity;
It's often served with trite cliches of saccharine banality,
And though narcissistic nonsense is my poor excuse for prayer,
However weak my words, it seems to be that God's still there.
I may say that God is love, and then complain He doesn't care
But it seems to make no difference: ipso facto God is there.

Christianity's preposterous with its petty segregations
And increasingly seems powerless with its dwindling congregations.
Where faith's concerned, we think that to use reason is an obstacle;
It seems a contradiction to put 'theo' before 'logical'.
And now I have no need for creeds, and worship has no place;
The materialistic rat-race has replaced my sense of grace.

Christianity, Christianity, there's nothing like Christianity:
Its teachings often drive me to the brink of rank insanity.
Scripture readings and my proud conceit are rarely found to square,
Yet despite my contempt for His church: it still seems God is there.


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What happened that nine-month before His birth?
The ribbons of ornate Latin scrolling from
Renaissance paint, like multimedia texts
In waiting, tell so little - yet so much:
"Gratia plena" - but full of what else?
Was abstract 'grace' able to fecundate
A living ovum without human seed?
Or did the Spirit deign to be a cell?
Did cytoplasm, mitochondria
Flagellum, fuse into a gamete: God
Covered by a mother making God;
Divine and human zygotically yoked.
Is the quickening we feel a shade of that,
When the annunciation comes to us:
"The body of Christ"? And then we swallow Him
In gluten, starch, in alcohol and grape,
The fruit of her womb become fermented fruit
And milled, baked wheat: a God that we can eat
Returning then into the flesh he made
Which makes, in turn, incarnate, very God.



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The sleeping flesh of their fingers cannot feel
The shattered loving guilty touch of mine
As I palm and thumb one little hand then move
To the next room and do the same again.
They fell asleep waiting for the cuddle
That didn't come. The one that was to be
Given "Daddy, when you've finished all your work."
But it never is finished and they always
Go to sleep eventually, after coming
Downstairs half a dozen times at least
Looking for attention I should give
But feel I can't.
                                And will it make
Such a difference that I gave this mark
Rather than that? And will the bark
I snapped at Jack, that made him cry
Be offset by the paper that I've pushed?
And will this drudgery be made divine
If I but see it as a sacrifice?
And if indeed I learn to see it thus
Will those I love be likewise sanctified?

Sometimes we can't do right for doing wrong;
We certainly can't do everything, and so
Dear God, Oh God, please let us know
How long will this go on, Oh God, how long?


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The chapel's empty of people, but the book
Open on the table prays for us
Like an Eastern temple prayer wheel. The words
Radiate from the page, diffuse and meld
With atoms of real presence, hang in the air
Like swirling motes of dust in rays of light.
A momentary gust, or a diffusion
Only, takes the sainted air into the hall;
It's sucked into hoovers, spewed out again
To mix with gathering voices, and the sweat
And sickly spray of milling kids in cloakrooms.
It passes into classes, and silently,
Invisibly, like warp threads supporting
A riotous tapestry of multicolour,
This diaphonous divine essence
Gives, intangibly, a Godly form
To all the good that goes on in this place.


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For Joseff Dylan Smith: born Friday 31st March, 2000

For the long Lent of labour is now done:
Mother's day is here! And the father too
Can proudly dote on his creation's share.

For this spark, struck from the divine flint of life
Has kindled into flame. His flickering limbs
Course with the blood that yesterday was mum's.

Mothers and mothers to be everywhere,
With Mary our mother, rejoice in the life
That gave us life, and that you give life to.

And be exceeding glad! In joy, rejoice.
Now join we all in joy; in joy and praise,
In thanks. And now, new life - just live. Amaze!