Category Archives: imagination

A Trio of Sonnets for Corpus Christi

The Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ), which falls this year on the 26th of May, is really a celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. In mediaeval times there used to be wonderful processions in which the consecrated elements were taken out of the church on this day and processed on the streets, showing that the Word made flesh was not just in a box labelled ‘church’ but in our midst, just as He was on the streets of Nazareth and Jerusalem. Rebecca Merry‘s lovely art work ( above) has the feel of those mediaeval ‘showings’ on Corpus Christi.

For my contribution to Corpus Christi I am offering here a trio of sonnets about the experience of receiving Holy Communion, each from a slightly different angle. The first two sonnets were published in Sounding the Seasons, my cycle of seventy sonnets for the Church Year.The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are shortly to be available in Canada via Steve Bell. It is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great. The third sonnet, which is about the 16th Century Oak communion Table in my church St. Edward King and Martyr, is from my book The Singing Bowl also published by Canterbury Press

Margot Krebs Neale has reflected on my phrases ‘He does not come in unimagined light ‘ and ‘to dye himself into experience’ with an image not simply of a stained glass window but of that dyed and refracted light itself reflected in water. I am grateful both to Rebecca and Margot for the way their work reflects on and develops mine. As always you can hear me read the poetry by clicking on the play button above each sonnet, if it appears, or on the title of the poem itself.


1 Love’s Choice

This bread is light, dissolving, almost air,

A little visitation on my tongue,

A wafer-thin sensation, hardly there.

This taste of wine is brief in flavour, flung

A moment to the palate’s roof and fled,

Even its aftertaste a memory.

Yet this is how He comes. Through wine and bread

Love chooses to be emptied into me.

He does not come in unimagined light

Too bright to be denied, too absolute

For consciousness, too strong for sight,

Leaving the seer blind, the poet mute;

Chooses instead to seep into each sense,

To dye himself into experience.

He does not come in unimagined light…


2 Hide and Seek

Ready or not, you tell me, here I come!

And so I know I’m hiding, and I know

My hiding-place is useless. You will come

And find me. You are searching high and low.

Today I’m hiding low, down here, below,

Below the sunlit surface others see.

Oh find me quickly, quickly come to me.

And here you come and here I come to you.

I come to you because you come to me.

You know my hiding places. I know you,

I reach you through your hiding-places too;

Touching the slender thread, but now I see –

Even in darkness I can see you shine,

Risen in bread, and revelling in wine.

3 This Table

The centuries have settled on this table
Deepened the grain beneath a clean white cloth
Which bears afresh our changing elements.
Year after year of prayer, in hope and trouble,
Were poured out here and blessed and broken, both
In aching absence and in absent presence.

This table too the earth herself has given
And human hands have made. Where candle-flame
At corners burns and turns the air to light
The oak once held its branches up to heaven,
Blessing the elements which it became,
Rooting the dew and rain, branching the light.

Because another tree can bear, unbearable,
For us, the weight of Love, so can this table

7 Comments

Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems

A Sonnet for Trinity Sunday

20110619-000808.jpg

Continuing my cycle of sonnets for the Church year. Here is one for Trinity Sunday which I am posting a few days before, in case people would like to make use of it tomorrow.

By coming to us as the Son, revealing to us the Father, and sending to us the Spirit, Jesus revealed the deepest mystery; that God is not distant and alone, but is three in one, a communion of love who comes to make His home with us.

The Rublev Icon, above, shows the Three in One inviting us to share in that communion. If, as I believe, we are made in the image of God, as beings in communion with one another in the name of that Holy and Undivided Trnity whose being is communion, then we will find reflections and traces of the Trinitarian mystery in all our loving and making. I have tried to suggest this throughout the poem and especially in the phrase ‘makes us each the other’s inspiration’ and Margot Krebs Neale has taken this idea of mutual and coinherent inspiration and remaking in the remarkable image she has made in response to this sonnet which follows the poem, an image which involves the mutually -inspired work of three artists and is one picture woven of three images. She writes to me about this image:

“The Triune Poet makes us for His glory,

And makes us each the other’s inspiration.”

sent me in this direction…


The picture of you is by Lancia Smith

the picture of me is by Peter Nixon

the picture of the infinite is by an artist i don’t know

the composition is by me

As usual you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears or on the title of the poem.

Readers who are interested in my use of the word ‘coinherent’ will find out more by watching the video of my talk about the British theologian Charles Williams, a friend and fellow inkling of CS Lewis which can be found here.

This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are now available in Canada via Steve Bell. It is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great..

Trinity Sunday

In the Beginning, not in time or space,

But in the quick before both space and time,

In Life, in Love, in co-inherent Grace,

In three in one and one in three, in rhyme,

In music, in the whole creation story,

In His own image, His imagination,

The Triune Poet makes us for His glory,

And makes us each the other’s inspiration.

He calls us out of darkness, chaos, chance,

To improvise a music of our own,

To sing the chord that calls us to the dance,

Three notes resounding from a single tone,

To sing the End in whom we all begin;

Our God beyond, beside us and within.

2 Comments

Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

7 sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer: 7 Thine is the Kingdom

given glories and a hidden Kingdom

given glories and a hidden Kingdom

This is the  last in the sequence of seven sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer which I am posting this week as part of the Church Of England’s Thy Kingdom Come week of prayer leading up to Pentecost. The Sonnets will be published together in my new book Parable and Paradox at the end of this month.

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

I am grateful to Philippa Pearson for choosing the images that accompany this series.

 

Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory

 

The kingdom and the power and the glory,

The very things we all want for ourselves!

We want to be the hero of the story

And leave the others on their dusty shelves.

How subtly we seek to keep the kingdom,

How brutally we hold on to the power,

Our glory always means another’s thralldom,

But still we strut and fret our little hour.

 

What might it mean to let it go forever,

To die to all that desperate desire,

To give the glory wholly to another,

Throw all we hold into that holy fire?

A wrenching loss and then a sudden freedom

In given glories and a hidden kingdom.

 

1 Comment

Filed under imagination

7 sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer: 4 Daily Bread

And send away to others all they reap,

And send away to others all they reap,

This is the  fourth in the sequence of seven sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer which I am posting this week as part of the Church Of England’s Thy Kingdom Come week of prayer leading up to Pentecost. The Sonnets will be published together in my new book Parable and Paradox at the end of this month.

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

I am grateful to Philippa Pearson for choosing the images that accompany this series.

Daily Bread

 

Give us this day our daily bread we pray,

As though it came straight from the hand of God,

As though we held an empty plate each day,

And found it filled, by miracle, with food,

Although we know the ones who plough and sow,

Who pick and plant and package whilst we sleep

With slow backbreaking labour, row by row,

And send away to others all they reap,

 

We know that these unseen who meet our needs

Are all themselves the fingers of your hand,

As are the grain, the rain, the air, the land,

And, slighting these, we slight the hand that feeds.

What if we glimpsed you daily in their toil

And found and thanked and served you through them all?

 

2 Comments

Filed under imagination

7 sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer: 2 Hallowed be thy Name

And summons us to stand on holy ground

And summons us to stand on holy ground

This is the  second in the sequence of seven sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer which I am posting this week as part of the church Of England’s Thy Kingdom Come week of prayer leading up to Pentecost. The Sonnets will be published together in my new book Parable and Paradox at the end of this month.

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

I am grateful to Philippa Pearson for choosing the images that accompany this series, and to Margot Krebs Neale for the image which follows the poem

Hallowed be Thy Name

 

There’s something in the sound of the word hallow;

A haunting sense of everything we’ve lost

Amidst the trite, the trivial, the shallow,

Where nothing lingers, nothing seems to last.

But Hallowed, summons up our fear and wonder,

And summons us to stand on holy ground.

To sense the mystery that stands just under

Familiar things we’ll never understand.

 

Hallowed be thy name: the name unspoken,

The name from which all other names arise,

The name that heals the sick and binds the broken,

Whose living glory calls the dead to rise.

You make this prayer my rising and my rest

That I might bless the name by which I’m blessed.

Holy Ground

Holy Ground

 

6 Comments

Filed under imagination

7 sonnets on the Lord’s Prayer: 1 Our Father

His 'welcome home.

His Welcome Home.

From the 8th – 15th, of May, the Week running up to Pentecost, the Church of England is especially celebrating the Lord’s Prayer and using it to pray for renewal in church and Nation. Full details of this celebration can be found on the  Thy Kingdom Come website.

As part of that celebration I am posting over the next seven days the sequence of sonnets I have written on the Lord’s Prayer which will be published at the end of this month in my new book Parable and Paradox Here is the first of them. In this sonnet I am trying to recover the sense of sheer surprise and grace the disciples must have experienced on first being given this prayer. They all knew that Jesus had a special relationship with the Father, that he was in some sense ‘the only begotten Son’, and when they asked him to teach them how to pray I’m sure they did not expect to share the intimate words he shared with his Father, but rather to be given a form of prayer suited to their lowly status as servants or disciples. They must have been utterly astonished to be invited to pray, just as Jesus did, to pray as already beloved children! This poem is voiced for one of the disciples expressing that astonishment.

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

Our Father

 

I heard him call you his beloved son

And saw his Spirit lighten like a dove,

I thought his words must be for you alone,

Knowing myself unworthy of his love.

You pray in close communion with your Father,

So close you say the two of you are one,

I feel myself to be receding further,

Fallen away and outcast and alone.

 

And so I come and ask you how to pray,

Seeking a distant supplicant’s petition,

Only to find you give your words away,

As though I stood with you in your position,

As though your Father were my Father too,

As though I found his ‘welcome home’ in you.

 

8 Comments

Filed under imagination

A Sonnet for Ascension Day

 Here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, May 5th this year, the glorious finale of the Easter Season.

In the mystery of the Ascension we reflect on the way in which, one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. He is no longer located only in one physical space to the exclusion of all others. He is in the Heaven which is at the heart of all things now and is universally accessible to all who call upon Him. And since His humanity is taken into Heaven, our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the Ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours.  The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.

This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are also available in Canada via Steve Bell. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

I’m grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above, the image below was taken as we launched rockets to celebrate Ascension day at Girton College:

We have lift off!

Ascension

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

5 Comments

Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts