Category Archives: ecology

Seven Whole Days: The Complete Set

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

Unending blue wherein we long to fly

Unending blue wherein we long to fly

Barley Sheaves grow golden in the field

Barley Sheaves grow golden in the field

The lucid moon and sun

The lucid moon and sun






Last week I posted my new sequence of prayer-roundels, giving thanks for the days of creation, one day at a time. It may be that some people would like to read or use them as a single sequence, either for private devotion or as part of a service focussed on God’s goodness in creation, so I am putting them all together as one sequence in this post for those who would like to use them in this way. These poems will be gathered together with others in ‘Parable and Paradox’ my next book of poetry, to be published by Canterbury Press in the summer of 2016. If you would like to use these poems or print them in a church bulletin/order of service feel free to do so, but if they are printed please add that they are used with the author’s permission and that they will be available in a book from Canterbury Press in 2016. You might also include the web address of this blog. Thank you. You can hear me red the poems by clicking on the roman Numeral or the ‘play’ button

Seven Whole Days


Seven whole days, not one in seven,

I will praise thee   George Herbert



Let there be light as I begin this day

To draw me from the darkness and the night,

To bless my flesh, to clear and show my way

Let there be light


Strong in the depth and shining from the height,

Evening  and morning’s interplay,

Blessing and enabling my sight.


Lighten my soul and teach me how to pray,

Lighten my mind and teach me wrong from right,

In all I do and think and see and say

Let there be light.




The firmament, the vast curve of the sky

The breath and weave of every element

Unending blue, wherein we long to fly,

The firmament.


Your Love has pitched the heavens like a tent

And delved the depth where hidden treasures lie,

From whose rich womb our life has its ascent.


Out of those depths I hear my spirit cry

As height and depth give praise with one assent

To that great form that orders low and high;

The firmament.





The earth will yield her still-unfolding seed,

And barley sheaves grow golden in the field,

The vineyard and the fruit trees, all we need

The earth will yield.


A soft wind sends the summer through the weald,

In valley folds the sheep and cattle feed.

The shoreline shines, Your wonders are revealed,


The waters are unbound, the ocean freed

To thunder praise, in whose depths are concealed

Your mysteries. Your praise in word and deed

The earth will yield.




Lights in the night, the lucid moon and sun,

The lesser and the greater share your light

And lift my heart to you when day is done,

Lights in the night.


And lonely souls are gladdened by the sight,

For those who dwell in darkness hope is born.

The scattered stars still tingle with delight


Treading the dance, the seasons in their turn

Salute the lights of heaven in their flight.

In our dark hearts your praises shine and burn;

Lights in the night.




With open wings a seagull skims the spray,

Sounding the depth below, a great whale sings,

Your Spirit moves amongst them as they play

With open wings.


Now open me to all your Spirit brings,

Move in me too as I begin to pray,

That love may ripple out in shining rings.


Speak to my soul through all you made this day,

Through all that swims and flies and swoops and swings,

And let your Spirit lift the words I say

With open wings.





You made us new and beautiful today

Your Spirit softened us like morning dew,

Your Image shining from us through the clay,

You made us new.


You woke us and we knew ourselves in you

We walked together at the close of day

You trusted us and called us to be true.


When we forsook your love, and turned away

You came and sought us, where we hid from you

And on the cross, in darkness, on this day

You made us new.



Blessing and rest, delight in everything

Sustained by your strong love and richly blest

This is the the gift you give, the day you bring

Blessing and rest.


This is indeed ‘the gladness of the best’,

From first lines in the east where linnets sing,

To where the last light lingers in the west,


You lift the cares to which I used to cling,

As you yourself descend to be my guest

And show me how to find in everything

Blessing and rest.



a seagull skims the spray

a seagull skims the spray

you made us new and beautiful today

you made us new and beautiful today

Where Linnets Sing

Where Linnets Sing

Blessing and Rest, Delight in everything

Blessing and Rest, Delight in everything


Filed under christianity, ecology, imagination, Poems

Jeremy Taylor and the Insights of Inclusion

August 13th is the day set aside by the Church of England to remember with gratitude the life and writings of Jeremy Taylor. Taylor, one of the classic Seventeenth Century Anglican Divines, has been called The Shakespeare of the Pulpit for the beautiful poetic prose of his sermons. He was also a great Spiritual Director and advisor, distilling gret wisdom into books like Holy Living and Holy Dying. Yesterday at St. Edward’s I preached a sermon celebrating those particular gifts and insights of his that i believe the church most needs today.

Here is the link to the sermon, which is preceded by a reading from a passage of Taylor’s work:

Jeremy Taylor and the Insights of Inclusion

And here are the two passages to which I refer in the sermon:

Taylor’s image of the upland Valley:

‘It is in some circumstances
and from some persons more secure to conceal visions and those
heavenly gifts, which create estimates among men, than to publish
them, which may possibly minister to vanity; and those exterior
graces may do God’s work, though no observer note them, but the
person for whose sake they are sent: like rain falling in uninhabited
valleys, where no eye observes the showers; yet the valleys laugh
and sing to God in their refreshment without a witness

Taylor compares St. Paul and St. Mary:

And it is not altogether inconsiderable to observe, that the holy

Virgin came to a great perfection and state of piety by a few, and

those modest and even external actions. St Paul travelled over

the world, preached to the Gentiles, disputed against the Jews,

confounded heretics, writ excellently learned letters, suffered

dangers, injuries, affronts and persecutions to the height of

wonder, and by these violences of life, action and patience

obtained the crown of an excellent religion and devotion. But

the holy Virgin, although she engaged sometimes in an active

life, and in the exercises of an ordinary and small economy

and government, or ministries of a family, yet she arrived to

her perfections by the means of a quiet and silent piety, the

internal actions of love, devotion, and contemplation; and

instructs us, that not only those who have opportunity and powers

of a magnificent religion, or a pompous charity, or miraculous

conversion of souls, or assiduous and effectual preachings, or

exterior demonstrations of corporal mercy, shall have the greatest

crown, and the addition of degrees and accidental rewards; but

the silent reflections, the splendours of an internal devotion, the

Unions of love humility and obedience, the daily offices of prayer

and praises sung to God, the acts of faith and fear, of patience and

meekness, of hope and reverence, repentance and charity,

And those graces which walk in a veil and silence, make

great ascents to God, and as sure progress to favours and a

crown, as the more ostentatious and laborious exercises of a

more solemn religion….a devout

woman in her closet, praying with much zeal and affection for

(the conversion of souls, is in the same order to a ‘shining like

stars in glory’ as he who by excellent discourses puts it into a

more forward disposition to be actually performed. And possibly

her prayers obtained energy and force to my sermon, and made

The ground fruitful and the seed spring up to life eternal

Both these passages come from The Great Exemplar, Taylor’s beautiful meditative Life of Christ.

1 Comment

Filed under christianity, ecology, St. Edward's

The Inklings; Fantasists or Prophets? The Complete Set.

CS Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. JRR Tolkien: The Inklings!

Over the last month I have given a series of five talks at St. Edward King and Martyr in Cambridge, exploring the thesis that far from being backward-looking, reactionary or escapist, the Inklings were fully and prophetically engaged with the main streams of modernity, that they forsaw the coming crisis of meaning in the materialist West, and in particular the attendant crises of violence and environmntal degradation. I have tried to explain the way they forged a coherent alternative vision, which called for us to reintegrate Imagination and Reason as ways of knowing truth and relating to one another and the world. These talks have been recorded as audio and the last four were also filmed, and I have assembled on this page the complete set of links to these recordings so that anyone who wishes can return to this page when they have the time and follow the talks through in sequence.

Its been a remarkable experience putting together and delivering these talks, at once draining and exhilarating, and I have had a sense as they were delivered of a new synthesis coming together in my mind.  I hope therefore, when I have the opportunity, to write these talks up and tfurther explore and develop these ideas in book form. Watch this space!

I will give the audio links first and then the video. I should say that the sound level is very low for the third talk, on Charles williams so people may prefer to take that talk from the video. I am very grateful to Daniel Son for filming the last four talks.

Part 1 The Inklings Fantasists or prophets

Part 2 CS Lewis and the Cosmic Summer

Part 3 Owen Barfield; poetry and participation

Part 4 Charles Williams; the Pattern and Glory of Love (you will need to turn up the volume on this one!)

Part 5: Tolkien; Roots and Branches


Now here are the links to the youtube video of the last four talks, on the individual Inklings, kindly provided by Daniel Son. The CS Lewis video starts a couple of minutes into the talk but the rest are complete.

1 CS Lewis and the Cosmic Summer

2 Owen Barfield: Poetry and participation

3 Charles Williams, the Pattern and Glory of Love

4 Tolkien; Roots and Branches


Filed under christianity, ecology, imagination, Inklings, literature, St. Edward's, Theology and Arts

The Old Revolution

Three days of peace and music

In my last post I was reflecting a little on Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock. continuing in that vein I thought I’d post a little reflection in Ottava Rima about what went wrong with those dreams, prompted partly by a sense of hope and ferment in the air again. I think the real problem was that consciousness-changing insight somehow crumbled into consumerism. People felt that they could deal in and purchase bliss and joy, chemically manufactured, rather than letting it flower and fruit from deeply planted spiritual roots, but maybe next time it will be different. Anyway what follows is a kind of  ‘confession’ for a generation (not enirely and privately my own confession you understand, I was a little too young at the time for some of that stuff) but a confession of failure which can, I believe, be put right and begun again, but this time with prayer and meditation rather than easier and more delusory substances. Here it is ‘for what it’s worth’ (As Stephen stills would say)

As always you can hear it by clicking on the title or the play button.


I fought in the old revolution” Leonard Cohen

When I turned teen in nineteen-sixty-nine
I heard of revolution in the air,
Or on the air, in fact on ‘Caroline’.
Lennon and Lenin had so much to share
A change would come and change would be benign,
A fairer world, and all the world a fair.
‘Here comes the sun’ we sang to blissed-out skies
And thought the bomber jets were butterflies.

We conjured faeries out of every flower
But something wicked slipped out with the weed
Stoned circles never yet spoke truth to power
And groovers were grasped soon enough by greed.
For, after Altamonte, our world turned sour
And self-consuming souls turned onto speed.
The times were out of joint,oh cursed spite!
We thought that one more joint would set them right!

Now revolution’s once more in the air
Will we repeat mistakes we made back then?
We took a lot of everything but care
And we were just consumers in the end.
My counsel is no counsel of despair
It may not be too late to try again!
Our trips could never switch an institution
But just one crank can start a revolution.

someone started this

Leave a comment

Filed under Current affairs, ecology, economy, imagination, Poems, politics, Songs

A Wound in the Waters of the Gulf

“Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.”

So Milton describes the moment of the fall in Paradise Lost, the moment a single human action breaks and wounds both the relation between humanity and God, and the relation between ourselves and our world. Milton sees the deep link between our spiritual state and the state we keep and leave the world in. But these harrowing lines might well describe the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil welling up uncontrollably through a hole that we have made and cannot cap is a sign, to many o us, of our wounded planet, a sign of the damage we have done and are doing, and of our seeming inability to put it right. And it’s no good blaming BP. They are deep-water drilling to meet our demands, and the real cause of this tragedy is our collective addiction to oil itself. We have a lifestyle, an economy, even an agriculture, entirely based on burning oil; a way of life that is not only unsustainable but invisibly toxic. But this wound in the earth’s surface, this oil welling up through the waters, has also brought the toxins of our whole way of life to the surface and made them visible. For those recovering from addiction it has sometimes taken a crisis to make a change, it has needed a break-down for a break-through, and it maybe that this crisis in the gulf, an environmental disaster on an unparalleled scale, is th world’s wake-up call, our Kairos moment. If we can face it at its worst we can also have hope. Though Milton wrote ‘all was lost’, his poem is alive with the promise of ‘one greater man’ who would ‘restore us and regain the blissful seat.’ Christians, who know that the wounds in our world stem from those same wounds in us that Jesus came to heal, have a special calling to speak both judgement and hope into the present crisis. I leave you with the words of another poet, Wendell Berry, from an interview about the oil spill in the gulf, in which he names the values we need to espouse in order to have hope:

‘diversity, versatility, recognition, and acceptance of appropriate limits or getting the scale right, and local adaptation — those ideas, it seems to me, put us in reach of work that we can do. To assume that all experiences like that oil well can only be handled by experts at great expense is a mistake.’

heres a link to that interview


Filed under christianity, Current affairs, ecology, economy, politics