So death is out
walking our streets again,
don’t follow him to see where he goes,
don’t catch his eye or touch his clothes,
just look away and let him by
and pay your respect with a silent sigh.
Know that in time your heart will soften,
you’ll recall the person, not the coffin,
and in their place new hope will rise,
it’s always the way when a loved one dies.
The night bus
dropped me off here
nearly seventy years ago,
I watched it go, it’s warmth,
the smell of diesel
and it’s golden windows
disappearing into the night.
It wasn’t long before
the dawn came and I could
see where I was, but it
took me much longer
to work out why I was here.
I’m not complaining,
by and large I have
risen to the challenge,
it wasn’t always easy
but I’ve had a lot of help,
now when I sit in the evenings
I sometimes think I can hear
the old bus coming to pick me up,
growling over the distant hills.
It’s got a way to come yet
but still I find myself
checking my pockets
to make sure I haven’t
lost my ticket.
At first he was delighted,
delighted at all the things he could do.
But as time passed
he found that much of what he did
caused distress to others
so he did less and less.
It took a while
but eventually he ended up
like the rest of us here in the woodland,
sitting with his back to a tree
just watching the autumn leaves
falling gently to the ground.
The trains don’t stop here anymore
but I can see them passing through,
and sometimes in the winter
I step onto the tracks, into the slipstream
of one that has hurried past
to feel the warmth it leaves behind,
the scent of the people, the coffee and the oil,
listen to the sound of the wheels fading
down the valley and into the distance,
then I just stand there and let the peace
envelop me again.
I look over at you,
or I hear you speak
and I think,
‘I hardly even know you.’
But it’s not in the way you look
or even what you say
that the knowing
I know your heart
and how like
to my own it is.
When the trees started growing
the first thing the stars did
was to teach the leaves to sing,
how be like them, how to be in harmony,
together and apart.
The stars knew that one day
their brothers and sisters
would want to visit the earth,
but they worried that when they did
the sheer beauty, the power and drama of life
might cause them to forget where they came from,
and this is what happened.
So now they send the breeze
to whisper in the leaves
and remind us
who we are.
Don’t tell me,
don’t talk to me,
don’t stand in my way.
You think I don’t know
that even on a good day
I am morally ambiguous?
That’s because I need to see,
to find out for myself what is
and what is not.
Don’t ask me to
agree with your views,
believe in one thing,
behave in one way
or join your gang.
I can’t, I won’t,
it’s not for me.
I don’t believe that God
favours Clubs or Churches,
or Temples or Synagogues anyway,
or lives in signs or statues either.
I believe God is in the wild places
the difficult places, the places
where His Light is needed.
And the most difficult place I know
is my own heart, a heart that trembles
with fear and anticipation
in the face of what life brings.
The sky is clear and dark,
the air is cool and I am here,
waiting in the garden
for the earth to turn.
Waiting for the light of the sun
to creep across the oceans,
over the farms and the fields
and through the buildings of this city,
waiting for it to turn the clouds pink
and fill the tree above me
with golden light.
I know of no other thing
that I can rely on as much
as the turning of the world.
As usual I woke up
feeling sad this morning,
now I am in the garden,
it’s 5.30am, dark, windy and balmy,
and I have thirty delicious
minutes all to myself,
here in nature, here with God,
the only one who knows me
well enough to heal me.
But it’s not really a healing is it?
It’s just that in the sound of the wind
rushing through trees and in the stillness beneath it,
I remember, just for a few moments, who I am.
Not the wounded man, broken by life,
caught between the impossible and the implacable,
depressed and angry at the wrongs meted out to him
and waiting for the sweet release of death,
but a man for whom life and death are unimportant
because they are secondary to love.