NHS GM

Not here the guns and bayonets,
the barbed and twisted wire;
the trenches and the foxholes,
the bombs and bloody mire.

This is another battle
with harbingers of death
and regiments are fighting
with every living breath.

For everyone’s a hero
who has served and played their part,
the front line and the rearguard,
with mind and soul and heart.

Yet, though they’ve been applauded
and we have stood in awe,
crisis followed crisis ...
how could they take much more?

But, from new depths of duty,
compassion found a way
and hope shone through the rainbow
as night gave way to day.

Our Majesty now takes the lead
and with her we confess
our deepest debt of gratitude
to our great NHS.

(c) 2021 Graham Oakes

Children of Jerusalem

Children of Jerusalem
welcome Jesus, as he welcomed you,
despite adults’ raised hands and voices;
the angry frowns and looks that could kill.

He comes for you –
let your joy be as unrestrained as his love;
be happy in his presence while you play,
it is balm to his hurting soul.

Have no ambition for this grown-up world
which has lost its way of wonder
and forgotten how to see things
as they really are.

See him on the donkey and laugh at the fun of it.
Spread your palm leaves, dance before him and
live in this precious moment.

One day you will understand
why innocent humility
entered your city and your life.

But, for now,
it is enough just to experience it
as only you,
Children of Jerusalem,
can.

(c) 2021 Graham Oakes

And Peace be upon you …

Crushed, beneath the tyrannical force of those sworn to keep it, 
Peace dies in the street without mercy or consideration of its gasps for help.

Onlookers, powerless to intervene, are warned off and resort to recording, 
for the world, this abhorrence. 

A world, saturated with gratuitous and visual violence, is enraged …

The agonised frustrations of a people consumed with the desire to be free 
from a slavery, not abolished in practice, and still suffered in sight of privilege 
and prejudice, are unleashed …

The pattern is not new.

It repeats the sad reflection on the state of this fragile human union.
‘… One nation,
under God,
indivisible,
with liberty
and justice
for all”
Fluttering with certain irony, the flag, before which this oath is made daily, 
must look down with shame on the way truth is denied, in the streets, 
within government, in the minds, hearts and souls of an entire country, 
of the wider world…

The self-evident founding assertion that,
‘… all men are created equal …’
condemns every act perpetrated by all bigots and supremacists who use 
the Constitution for their own selfish ends, with no regard for those whom 
it was created to protect.

With deepening dismay, we see injustice and hate overflow; protests are deflected 
and defeated by weak political resolve and there is no public figure brave enough 
to articulate and spearhead the national revolution required.

This is a fuse which is getting shorter by the moment with political expediency 
and personal ambition about to blow nations apart.

But, an older constitution exists.

Though forgotten by many, it founded and formed much of 
western civilisation and law.
Written in stone, revealed in flesh and blood, it takes love for God 
and for humanity seriously, to the point of self-sacrifice and self-denial.

With all our technological progress and social media prowess this message is 
being lost, diluted and replaced by the unfiltered expressions of human emotion, 
untethered by restraint and concern for consequence and responsibility.

Can we return to that simpler way of life ruled by the discipline of spirit where words 
are not used lightly or to wound; 
where minds are subject to the control of reflection and long-term hope?

Where our neighbour is worthy of respect and care, whoever they are?

Where we recognise, when observing failed humanity, that 
‘... there but for the grace of God’?
For, it is by grace that we are saved, not of anything we are or can do.

We all stand, equally condemned before the throne of God and no number of Bibles
on our shelves or in our hands can give us immunity from the inevitable judgement.

Presidents, Kings, Popes and Archbishops, World Leaders, Governments, Religions,
Criminal & Terrorist organisations … every one of us … must bow before a bloodied
and executed outcast who died as Prince of Peace and now reigns as King of Love.

We must see ourselves for who we really are and recognise him for who he really is.
“Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Turn me around, let me face you and learn humility.
Fill me with your presence and make me clean.
Take my thoughts, words and actions and make them yours.
Take my memories and shame and forgive and redeem my past 
that I may live renewed in your present.
Grow your Spirit’s fruit and gifts in me for the blessing of others, 
for peace – and your glory.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, 
your Son and my Saviour. 

Amen”

Pentecost pondering.

Walking
in the radiant light
of this morning’s
rising sun.

Sensing
the intangible yet
intimate presence
of that gentle breeze
engaging and inspiring
my very soul.

Hearing
the refreshing sound
of rushing waters;
clean and life-giving:
flowing with hope
and joy and
peace.

Appreciating
the journey;
the ups and downs,
highs and lows
and paths not
walked before.

Anticipating
that final bend,
the familiar door
and a glorious
welcome home.


(c) 2020 Graham Oakes

Pentecost Prayer

Oh Lord!

Forgive us
for the way
we turn your
living presence
into works of stone,
of unchanging forms
which exist for
themselves;
within which you
cannot breathe.

Forgive us,
for celebrating
your coming
as a birthday,
for one day only,
then putting
it back into the
drawer for seasons
and special occasions.

Forgive us,
that the fruit
you challenge us with
is observed as
a ‘still life’ study;
to be marvelled at
for its composition
and setting
without moving us
to desire its treasure
when revealed in us.

Forgive us,
that the gifts
you share are
denied, devalued
or desired for the
wrong reasons.

Forgive us,
that we
underestimate
their power
and your glory.

Forgive us:
for arguing
over their use
and limitations.

Forgive us:
that, in the midst
of diversity,
we ignore your
translating, 
transforming,
and unifying power.

Lord, in your mercy, forgive us:

Oh, Lord!

Redeem, restore,
revive and renew;
breathe on me,
I pray.

Indwell my tradition
with daily renewal,
my human perspective
with your heavenly vision;
refresh my stagnant backwater
with the rushing waters 
of your love; 
replace my ambition
with your 
perfect calling.

Fill me,
to overflowing;
capture me and
set me free
to serve you,
here, now
and forever.

By your amazing grace,  
Amen.

Ascension 2020

To have and to lose:
this is our human condition.

Through struggle, or gift,
we gain that which, 
through struggle or gift,
is taken away.

Transient experiences
of life elude our attempts 
to retain them.

We learn that 
our humanity 
is finite; our lives
but a vapour;
our loves and hates
live on in others,
if they live at all.

The small steps we take
are as nothing.

The earth revolves 
around the sun
and its cycles 
diminish, even more,
our grasp on time
and space.

But you ...

in your birth
you bore the hope
of nations.

In your life
dwelt all the Godhead,
bodily.

In your sacrifice
is forgiveness
for all who call.

In your resurrection
death, and all its power,
is defeated.

And then,

at your Ascension,
the Gift was 
promised ... 

Incarnate Presence,
restored with a 
more glorious
Indwelling.

Your heavenly 
humanity is all gain
and, by your Spirit,
you fill us with
the light of
your Day ...

... turning our shadows
into everlasting
Dawn.



Response to ‘The Other’ by RS Thomas

As part of the RS Thomas Poetry Appreciation Group we have been asked to write a poem in response to one of his … this is my first attempt which I posted to the group today … you can find his poem on the Intranet … it’s a beautiful read.

There is a 
wakefulness that
is not bound 
by the margins
of sleep;
an awareness that
is constant and
alive. Alive to all
there is in the
infinity and
eternity
of being.

We could not
bear it. Only One
who has borne 
our weakness and
broken our chains
hears and listens,
watches and sees,
across the ocean
that separates
and calls us
home.

The Other Tree

The Garden of Creation, now lost to one and all,
replaced by forest thickets upon whose roots we fall;
our destiny still governed by laws we always break
and all creation stumbles over the mess we make. 

The fruit for which we lusted, upon that single tree,
reminds us of our stubborn pride and failed humanity.
The other Tree was kept from us lest we should live forever;
expelled, we faced the mortal cost of our rebellious error.

But while that sin stained everyone born to the world of men
the love of God could not be dimmed and purposed, even then,
to be the way for our return into his holy place,
our restoration, full and free, by such a costly grace.

Into our world he placed the seed: his Word, his Light, his Son
and he, among us, lived and died - the hope for everyone.
The Tree of Life was lifted up to bear the Lord of All
as it became the wooden cross that broke our fateful Fall.

And once again the Garden received that perfect Man
and we began to understand the mystery of Love’s plan.
The empty cross, the empty tomb, now relics of the fight:
the darkness withers at the dawn of Resurrection Light.

Knowing.

The garden 
awoke: 
bathing in 
the fresh dew 
on its leaves 
and petals; 
stretching 
towards the light 
of dawn.

They knew.

The birds 
chased each other 
in the misty air,
trilling
their joy at
being alive.

They knew.

The ancient trees,
rooted deep, 
let their branches
play in the breeze, 
responding 
to the warmth 
of the rising sun. 

They knew.

The stream 
burbled its way 
with a brighter tone
while the stones 
and the dust
held their place
but in their own way

they knew.

The shimmering air,
the drifting clouds,
the mountains and valleys,
the lands and seas,
the sun, moon and stars,

they all knew ...
and waited.

First,
the women came;
focusing on 
the emptiness,
fearing the worst,
running to tell the men ...

They didn't know.

Next, 
the men,
seeing the evidence,
without understanding ...

They didn't know.

So much distress,
so many tears,
confusion 
and chaos 
swirling 
in their world.

Then, 
just as on 
that first Day,
God's Spirit
hovered,
the Son spoke ...

and they knew.



(c) 2020 Graham Oakes