A very loose description … not everything will rhyme!
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,
(c) 2021 Graham Oakes
This is my reflection for this year’s Remembrance which combines the Autumn season and the two acts of Remembrance that we, as Christians, commemorate together.
This is a video of the poem …
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
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.
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.
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