Daily Archives: January 2, 2021

With Silver Wings: A Response to Psalm 68

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I love psalm 68 and I remember once hearing it half- sung half- chanted by Peter Tosh to a full Reggae rhythm, most appropriately as this is the psalm which asks us to ‘praise him in his Name JAH, and rejoice before him.’ 

I also love the way the psalm moves from the depths to the heights, from the ordinary to the utterly transfigured, as it does for example in verse 13:

Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove: that is covered with silver wings, and her feathers like gold.

And that verse also epitomises the hope at the heart of this psalm, the hope in the coming of the Messiah, the coming triumph of good over evil.

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

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

LXVIII Exurgat Deus
 
And Eden’s rivers here on earth are flowing,
Invisibly they rise within our hearts,
Springs in the wilderness to keep us going,
 
Balm on our bruises, healing of our hurts.
We lie amongst the broken shards, and yet
You have not left us comfortless: our hearts
 
Are stirred to life, and over us you set
Your spirit like a dove with silver wings
And golden feathers. All her stirrings let
 
In the light of heaven. When she sings
Our sprits lift and blossom in her song
And praise the mighty JAH who made all things.
 
Grace of the graceful, true strength of the strong,
The captor of captivity, his day
Is coming, and the time will not be long.

 

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The Bird in the Tree Ruth Pitter

Image by Linda Richardson

Image by Linda Richardson

For January 2nd in my  Anthology from Canterbury PressWaiting on the Word, I have chosen to read The Bird in the Tree by Ruth Pitter. On New Year’s Eve we considered Hardy’s almost reluctant glimpse of transfiguration ‘when Frost was spectre-grey, and ‘shrunken hard and dry’, and Hardy’s heart, bleak as the world through which he moves, nevertheless hears for a moment the ‘ecstatic sound’ of his darkling thrush. And even though he wanted to end his poem with the word ‘unaware’, something of the transcended has ‘trembled through’ his poem. Today’s poem, also about hearing a bird in a tree, also addresses the question of how the transcendent might for ‘a moment of time’ ‘tremble through’ into the immanent.

You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above was created by Linda Richardson and is one of my favourites from the beautiful book of responses she made to Waiting on the Word, it is so full of life, movement and energy. Linda Writes:

A few years ago I was walking up the hill behind our house. I had an extraordinary experience of feeling myself dissolve into the land around me, of being one with the trees, the insects below the earth and the sky above me. When I got home I attempted to paint the experience and reading Ruth Pitter’s poem brought it back to my mind.

Throughout this Advent, Malcolm has offered us poems that invite us to ‘see’. We believe we know what a bird is like, what a tree is like, we have heard the Christmas stories so often that we think we know them, but if we give ourselves time to ‘see’ anew, we will be able to glimpse eternity shining all around us and within us. We can find God manifest in the finite and the infinite, in time and eternity. In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus says, ‘split the wood, and I am there. Turn over the stone and there you will find me.

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

The Bird in the Tree   Ruth Pitter

 

The tree, and its haunting bird,

Are the loves of my heart;

But where is the word, the word,

Oh where is the art,

To say, or even to see,

For a moment of time,

What the Tree and the Bird must be

In the true sublime?

They shine, listening to the soul,

And the soul replies;

But the inner love is not whole,

and the moment dies.

Oh give me before I die

The grace to see

With eternal, ultimate eye,

The Bird and the Tree.

The song in the living Green,

The Tree and the Bird –

Oh have they ever been seen,

Ever been heard?

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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Filed under christianity