Sunday, 28 July 2019

Poem: Meditation on Psalm 131

The second in a series of poems that I wrote whilst on retreat, undertaking the first stage of the Spiritual Exercises, at St Beuno's earlier this month. I shared this poem at St Bride's this morning:

Meditation on Psalm 131

‘Like a weaned child at her mother’s breast’ –
I sigh into you in contentment.
Not with the rooting hunger
Of breastfeeding, that single-minded devotion
That knows only need and turns blindly for its source –
That’s had its time, and will no doubt have its time again.

But now is for enjoying the stillness
Of knowing myself to be held;
Choosing, in simple desire,
To clamber onto your lap,
Lay my head against your shoulder,
And feel your cheek, your arms, your body
Envelop me – above, around, beneath.

Now is for relaxing into one another,
Both accepting, both offering,
This gift of presence.

Now is the time to feel my breathing slow
In time with yours;
To know that this is the Alpha and the Omega,
The beginning and the end.
This is the place I belong, the place
I have been longing for.
From here I will go out, in time,
And to here I will return.

My only prayer is an almost wordless yearning
That nothing may tempt me to forget,
To diminish this, from a distance, as a childish indulgence,
A mawkish fantasy,
That’s all very well, but has no place in the real world.

I want more than anything to always know,
In the very depths of my bones, as I know now,
That this is more real than any of the fantasies
On which I have constructed my life.

This is humility;
Not a performative fawning,
But this raw acceptance of my want of you.

This is not an intellectual proposition,
Or an argument to be won.
It is humiliating to discover,
After all my research and questioning,
After all my jealous frustration
At my inability to frame you in words,
That it comes down only to this –

My need, and my simple acceptance of my need,
To rest in your embrace.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

A Poem: Verum Corpus

There is no greater awkward joy
Than to celebrate communion one-handed,
Clasping a child in your other arm.

Feeling its small, warm body
Conform itself to your curves; feeling yourself
Move that one side of your body
Into the universal jig that all flesh
Doesn’t know it knows 
Until a baby is put into its arms.

One hand splayed against the soft heaviness of head and neck,
The other outstretched in prayer -
You make God real 
in flesh and blood, 
bread and wine -

Tangible, fragile, consumable.

(One small corner of your mind concerned to do this with all possible dignity
To placate those who may feel the baby detracts
From the seriousness of the occasion –
Another, wondering if dry-cleaning would remove
Baby sick from the shoulder of the antique chasuble,
Should need arise)

In that moment, you are both the baby and God.

Feeling all God’s fierce and tender protectiveness
As these tiny, fragile things are held in your hands –

Feeling all the infant’s fierce and needy grasping
To be held, protected, loved.

Clasping a miniature fistful of chasuble
Against being dropped.
Offering a mere handful of bread,
Against being alone.

Afterwards, I know, I will hear
Both complaints and sentimentality.

But this moment is neither sentimental nor profane.

If I had a spare hand, I would take off my shoes.
For here God is speaking ‘I AM’ into my very body.