Daily Archives: December 14, 2020

Set Me Up Upon The Rock: A Response To Psalm 61

The Words of Psalm 61 Once more speak directly into our crisis, as people suffer from one end of the earth to the other:

From the ends of the earth will I call upon thee: when my heart is in heaviness.

O set me up upon the rock that is higher than I: for thou hast been my hope, and a strong tower for me against the enemy.

And that prayer is as relevant as ever. We can’t deal with this in our own strength, our self-made foundations are unstable, but we can be lifted up on to the firm rock of Christ and his love, a rock that has already proved itself to be stronger than death. For me, in my poetic response, that prayer to be lifted up is a prayer for liberation: freedom from the traps of time, a radical new assessment of our worth, that has nothing to do with all the game-plans and achievements that we have made into false measures of human worth.

As always you can hear me read the psalm by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button’

These poems will all be gathered together and published on January 30th under the title David’s Crown. I am just working on the proofs now and there is already an amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

LXI Exaudi, Deus

Hear us, we cry, and once more, make us glad
From every corner of the earth we call.
From heavy hearts, from weary souls and sad

Our cry ascends towards your holy hill:
Oh lift us up and set us on the rock,
On something higher than our wavering will,

And free us from the traps of time: the clock
That counts us down to nothing, the false hope,
The game-plan and trajectory, the lock

That closes out your grace. Help us look up
And see the shimmer of the angels’ wings
And, in between the cherubim, the cup

Of our salvation, and the king of kings
Come down to share himself in bread and wine.
Draw back the veil until our spirit sings.

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Autumn by David Baird

'Autumn' image by Linda Richardson ‘Autumn’ image by Linda Richardson

The poem I have chosen for December 14th in my Advent Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word, is Autumn by the contemporary poet and theologian David Baird. You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above is from Linda Richardson’s book of responses to Waiting on the Word.Linda writes:

Ten days before Christmas Eve and the pressure is upon us. Will we continue to find the time to read these poems, to contemplate and wait upon the Word? A few days ago I encouraged the reader, if they were responding in some way, not to dismiss the response if it didn’t resonate, because later reflection could reveal hidden meaning.

Last year, responding to this poem, I reached out for what was at hand. I found a leaf that I had pressed in a book and a piece of medical gauze, found in the bedroom where my Mother-in-law had nursed my Father-in-law until his death on the 12th December 2005, almost ten years before I made this work in December 2015. These seemingly poor objects became the grist for creating the response to David Baird’s Autumn.

The art work is by-the-way, but reflecting on it a year later, the media is of greater interest. As death drew near to my Father-in-law, these words became his reality: ‘then fallen nature driven to her knees flames russet, auburn, orange fierce from within, And bush burns brighter for the growing grey’.

 George Richardson was a man of Faith who lived by and for the Word. There were times in his younger years when he was inclined to unmake the incarnation and turn the Word made flesh back into legal words again as Edwin Muir the Scottish poet writes, “King Calvin with his iron pen, And God three angry letters in a book’. But George was utterly intent upon his Lord Jesus and came to a fuller, richer more loving faith, so that by the end of his life he glowed ‘orange fierce from within’. He would greet each person he met with complete attention, speaking to them as if they were the most important person, and the meeting, the most happy of his week. Being met by George at this time of his life was an invitation into the vast emptiness of his loving heart.

I didn’t realise the significance of the leaf and the gauze until I came to write about it this year.

 You can find you can find a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle


Autumn

Was certainly not winter, scholars say,

When holy habitation broke the chill

Of hearth-felt separation, icy still,

The love of life in man that Christmas day.

Was autumn, rather, if seasons speak true;

When green retreats from sight’s still ling’ring gaze,

And creeping cold numbs sense in sundry ways,

While settling silence speaks of solitude.

Hope happens when conditions are as these;

Comes finally lock-armed with death and sin,

When deep’ning dark demands its full display.

Then fallen nature driven to her knees

Flames russet, auburn, orange fierce from within,

And bush burns brighter for the growing grey.

If you would like to encourage and support this blog, you might like, on occasion, (not every time of course!) to pop in and buy me a cup of coffee. Clicking on this banner will take you to a page where you can do so, if you wish. But please do not feel any obligation!

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