What if I had stayed awake?

I could have comforted my saviour
or wiped that blood-stained sweat from his brow
and held him as he strove.

But no, I who had but hours before
leant against his breast in love,
and with the others, declared undying loyalty to the grave

now I lay, with stomach full,
befuddled in a happy - if puzzled - state of mind
and let my wine-soaked brain
drop my weary eyes to sleep.

How could I sleep,
when he had just declared he was distressed to the point of death?

‘Overwhelmed with sorrow’ he had cried.
Yet only sleep overwhelmed us.

And so I missed the torment of the one I loved.

Only to hear about his lonely travail
much later, on the other side of death.

How alone, he had wrestled with his will
How alone, he'd vanquished temptation
How alone, even then, he had prayed for us.

All this he later recounted,
with no sense of accusation.
He always understood, always forgave, always restored.

But I am left to wonder
‘what if I had stayed awake?’
Light of the world
Shine through this canopy of darkness
Lift my eyes to see your glory
Your hand is close by
Lift me up
Let me behold your glory
God all around
The God who dances
And sings as he creates

Love came

My head does not easily separate Christmas from Easter. Christmas – the season of giving – reflects that he came to give himself, both in life and in death, and therefore is viewed in the shadow of the cross. The open stable foreshadows the open tomb. He emerged from both of these hidden places, very much alive. So no apologies for a Christmas poem that sounds more like Easter:

Did love ever look so real?

Yes, there it is in carefully crafted creation
There it is in a mother's eyes when her baby is born
Seeing the riches born in poverty.

There is love
In grandparents eagerly awaiting their children
in anticipation of embracing the newborn.

There is love in gifts given, in friends, in words spoken, in acts of kindness

But did love ever look so real

As it did on that hot hill of agony
As blood fell from your broken body
Weighed down willingly with my sin
As you relinquished life just to bring me -  and you - and all mankind who were willing to come -  home for ever?

Did love ever look so real

As you whispered to those who killed you
Father forgive them, they do not know what they do?

As you promised to a dying man
Today you will be with me in paradise?

As you cried
It is finished, that cry of love which echoes round the world, breaking the power of darkness?

Did love ever look so real
As you reached out your crucified arms
To embrace the world?

Did love ever look so real as Jesus?

Love Came Down by Helen Robinson

This Christmas I have the joy of sharing a poem written by a lovely friend, with her permission. Helen says she was contemplating the  artwork she had done (below), and the words just followed.
Thank you, Helen.
Love came down
Drew close through the chaos
and darkness.
The light shone
Illuminating our need for love
For healing
For life
Exploding into our world
Resetting time and eternity
Making all things new
Millions of fragments of life,
freedom and joy
Penetrated the cosmos and
showered into our world
Everything changed
The day 
Love came down.

A Song

There is a 🎶 song 🎵 over you
Lift your head
Incline your ear
Open your heart

Golden notes swirling in an embrace around you, enfolding.
A song that heals
Comforts, inspires

A reminder
That you are not alone
The Singer sees
and reaches through eternity
To touch your heart. My heart.

And be

The Queen

The view of her kingdom dimmed
A last breath sighed, and her spirit left this earth.

In another kingdom, trumpets sounded, and flags unfurled
As a King stepped forward to greet a queen

Even as sadness rolled over these lands
Rainbows were placed by a King’s scarred hands
Gracing her palaces, her homes no more
But honouring that life so faith-filled and sure. 

A blessing from Jesus
A reminder perhaps 
Of his honour and promise
that never fails. 

That resurrection life
Follows death.

And a first breath is taken
In a new kingdom.
Eternal love greets you, Elizabeth

Worry (Isaiah 26:3)

I’m a Christian so I’m not worried.

This weight on my shoulders is “godly concern”
“a Christian burden for world suffering” 
“desire for my loved ones to have a good future”

Or perhaps they are nicer sounding words for ‘worry.’

But then the world is burning, or drowning
and how will I afford to eat or heat
with food and fuel prices sky-rocketing.
And what of sickness and frailty?
The NHS is broken,
how can I care for loved ones?
What of the depressed and desperate?
What of wars?
Some problems are unfixable even with riches.
What can I do but worry?

Oh Lord 
This mind that tries to fathom mysteries
This heart that wants to fix all pain
This desire to control
or at least see the future - prophetically, of course!

All these things vie with simple trust.

Help me trust
like a child, knowing their loving parent has the answers
and will fix all things when the time is right.
Like a child who does not fret
about past or future
but plays, lives and loves in the moment.

Your words
“consider the lilies…”
echo across the world
past stoppered ears who prefer cash in hand
to trusting your bounty.

Be still, my frantic mind.

Teach me to breath slow
to live in the moment
and set my mind on you.

that the promised gift
of Peace
may come. 

Beauty Calls

‘See me’
she cries in all her glory
as sunset glides through golds and pinks
leaving purple haze and peace.
“I’m here” - a whisper
her voice barely dusting the still lake.

Beauty calls
through artists, poets and kind deeds
of broken humanity.

Hear her voice, or his, 
through enduring love 
and sacrifices, great and small.

She calls us to He who made it all.
Magnificent Creator
who painted the greatest beauty

in the ugly-skull-place
Blood dripping down roughly hewn wood.
Hatred unable to stifle Love
pouring from the broken body,
the ultimate sacrifice

given to draw us into the eternal dance
in divine union
past visible horizons.

Beauty calls...
Take the outstretched, scarred hand
and join the dance
and the kingdom, where unending beauty dwells.

A Necessary Darkness – by A. Perennial-Plant

How I hate
This necessary darkness.

It is even worse
than those days in mid summer 
When I am gasping for just a drop
Of water.
When the earth around is cracked and dry
Scraping against me.
I cry out:
“I cannot keep going, sustaining life
Without something to quench my thirst.
I can grow no more.”

The response: silence.
I try to rise, but only meet a hotter place
a drier place.
The only option is to stretch
to reach out my roots
Tentatively pushing down until 
- bliss!
The earth grows damper
I stretch out more.
Damper and wetter with each centimetre
until I am quenched.
I feel my flowers opening
My leaves becoming glossy
And I know I am beautiful.

Bees visit and spread the good news of my glory
With every grain of pollen that clings to their feet
And is spread near and far as they fly.
My scent declares all around that I am good. 
I am oh so tasty.

Those days are long gone now and I am nothing.
Hidden in this necessary darkness
Flowers, scent, leaves but a memory.
I have been razed to the ground.
I look lifeless
No one even knows I am here
and there is nothing I can do.

Except wait. 
And wait again.
A long, cold waiting in the frozen ground.

But I know one day - and I hope it is soon -
A bud will form.
A sliver of green reach out
and start its fragile journey towards light.

I know I will grow again
Bigger, better, more beautiful than last year.

But meantime I wait
Replenishing the core of my being
As I rest
In this necessary darkness.