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Imaginary Lines

The page for my poetry.

Who am I?

Why is it easier to describe what I do than to sketch what defines me? To say “I am a Christian” seems very in–your–face and blunder-bussy: to me at least. And the affirmation doesn’t begin to evince the breadth of implication. Rather, I feel, it can seem to be a closed — terminal even — accusation. ‘I’m this, get over it’, or ‘why aren’t you?’ So, I have been challenged by my own Blog to offer an open creed. Something that might attract questions; offers hope of resonance; may even be attractive. It is on the About page and it may change during the journey.


Christian in my pilgrimage
Celtic in my spirituality
Generous in my orthodoxy

Poems and Stories

I find myself with a faith made up of ocean waves of doubt; I don't consider this a bad thing because without the drive to question how can faith grow? The ocean waves thing is not to suggest I am relating to wild Peter, getting out of the boat and carelessly drowning. There are times I'm unsure I was ever in the boat. I am maybe finding a faith which demands a depth I never knew possible.

There is a thinness to being that suggests possibilities that seem too vast to contemplate. I will stop down-loading un-thought thoughts now :)

Bizarre and counter-intuitive as it seems there can be no effective ‘doing’ unless the stillness of Presence is first encountered and then nurtured. This is what Jesus demonstrated; this is what our heart echoes. This is how God now works. The Christian message is as startling now as it ever has been. If we seek to wonder at the possibility of God we are offered Jesus: God's present and God present.


Some of my Imagined Lines

  • "Thy Kingdom Come"

    is the prayer which creates thin places:
    the cracks in certainty
    that lets the Light in.

  • From Mark we learn how God does things:

    We see Jesus Christ, and through him, God’s absolute and unshakeable love for us. This story, of the healing of a blind man, works on two levels. Jesus again demonstrates the power of God breaking through and touching one of us. Yet also we see Mark cleverly placing this story within a particular context. As Jesus set out for Jerusalem and certain death he gave sight to a blind man. Now, as he enters Jericho, he does the same. Bartimaeus, cast by the wayside like the seed thrown on stony ground, cries for mercy and is given so much more. He who was by the way is given power to walk in the way. But Mark also wants us to know that following in the Way will lead to Jerusalem.

    I can hear the eagles;
    sense them above me.
    But only imagine strange flight.
    I clap, I clap,
    beating of wingspan, lifting of bodies;
    dreadful beauty denied to me
    who has no sight.

    My bowl is empty
    and so is my belly.
    Footsteps passing, voices laughing:
    ‘I hunger, I hunger -
    Have mercy on a blind beggar’.
    Sound of small coin,
    enough perhaps for barley loaf.

    The sun is so hot
    And down here in the dust
    I eat more of that than bread.
    ‘I thirst, I thirst -
    Please help me to the brook.’
    Drinking of the city’s sluice,
    But slaked a while at least.

    This then is the sum of life:
    Cast on the roadside like
    barleycorn amidst the stones;
    I die, I die.
    Living is not existence
    in the torment of this soul,
    poor blind Bartimaeus.

    A crowd is passing near the city.
    Jesus! – I’ve heard of deeds:
    I’m told you heal, make whole.
    I cry, I cry
    Oh! Please help me to live,
    not begging for alms
    but walking and working.

    ‘Have mercy on me
    Longed for Messiah
    Son of David, have mercy.’
    “Be quiet, be quiet;
    he’s too busy and
    kings don’t carry money.
    There’s nothing here for you”.

    No! I shall cry out
    or these stones will do it for me:
    ‘Jesus, Son of David, Kyrie Eleison’
    He calls, he calls.
    And now the crowd change tone
    “My hand”; “up here”
    “He heard you moan.”

    I cast aside my rags
    And was guided by hands invisible
    “What can I do for you”
    he said, he said.
    I might have asked the world, but knew
    this was not his to give, nor mine to take.
    Strange peace in that last moment of blindness.

    ‘My rabbi’, I said, ‘I want to see’.
    ‘Open up horizons
    that never were when I was blind.’
    I saw, I saw:
    and instantly his face appeared
    and I laughed and cried,
    and died, and was re-born.

    Is that a tree, a bird, a wing?
    Now there’s the road,
    and there’s my Lord. Quickly now.
    I ran, I ran;
    how could I not but follow
    in the footsteps of the One
    who lighted my path.

    And you who listen to my joy;
    how will you respond
    as darkness creeps?
    ‘Father, Father.’
    ‘We would see more of him
    in whom we live and move
    and have our being.’

  • Written on Retreat

    Mine is a small heart, Lord.
    How can I hope to contain
    all that I learn?

    You share with me
    of Yourself;
    I read and forget,
    I pray and am forgetful:
    mindless,
    despairing of light.

    But I remember this at least:
    it is not I who must reach You.
    It is You who has,
    who does,
    reach down to me
    and touches my heart;
    encouraging my feet
    to walk a few more steps.

    Stumbling, yes;
    hesitant,
    confused - certainly.

    Yet in this
    my heart seems
    by degrees
    to be enlarged - just a little.

    I'm not sure I understand more
    but I am more sure of You
    and Your large heart
    and I am 'strangely warmed'.

    (c) JT 2009

  • Evening: Day 13

    Image

    There is a prayer not for uttering;
    Surely our sighing confirms it.
    A prayer not for answering;
    Surely reality tells us so.
    "Blessèd are those who mourn."

    Does God find us a parking space?
    (For which we lightly thank;
    When, despite faithful heart
    Crying until the bronze dawn day,
    Limp still the tiny Image.

    Such prayer is not for prodding;
    Nor imploring;
    Nor reminding.
    Quite beyond answers.

    It is the cry of abandonment,
    Deep crying unto Deep,
    Silence speaks to Silence.
    Whose consummation is never here, Never now.

    Yet, eccentrically,
    Is not lonely.
    Flesh falls silent,
    Want gives way to wonder.

    In this liminal dimension
    Solitude becomes the thin place of the heart.
    And, Orpheus like, we emerge
    The same but different;
    Changed by the journey.

    © JT Holy Week and a bit 2017

  • Conceived whilst walking Cairn Gorm

    View

    Numbers, of course,
    are important.
    They account for the world
    - but not for reality.

    Reality demands revelation
    and wonder;
    requires us to relate
    - not enumerate.

    Then we glimpse beyond
    the infinite:
    where numbers succumb
    to the source of being.

    For reality is more
    than the sum of the whole;
    here we are left unshielded
    by certainty.

    May 2017

    My reading on this trip was The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd: the book left a deep impression on my soul.

    Check out the Cairngorms here href="http://www.cairngormmountain.org/cairngorm-mountain-webcams/" target="_blank">Cairngorm Webcam.

  • pen

  • In the Shadow of Aidan

    Farne dotted highway
    where stars guide
    and fog wrecks,
    journeyed Aidan.

    Here ocean foamed
    with restless waves,
    became the water
    of calmèd souls.

    In this thin place
    of hard stone
    and harder hearts
    walked Aidan.


    And rock formed
    of molten ground
    became the earth
    of melted hearts.

    As sea enfolds
    the island home,
    so are his flock
    by Aidan's arms.

    And we gracefolk
    same Spirit led
    know kindness and charity
    yet have matchless power.

    (c) JT 2009

  • Letting Go

    The words just won't come
    when you're drifting apart:
    it's a blight on your life
    and a drain on your heart.

    What drives us from God?
    We think: Oh, it's sin;
    but really it's guilt
    held deep down within.

    There is always a place -
    for His love knows no bounds:
    it's up close and personal
    where forgiveness is found.

    But our guilt holds us back;
    we think it is best
    to drift yet still further
    away from his breast.

    Faced with the loss
    how do we confront this?
    Seek love in his eyes
    and find there, sweet solace?

    "Remember, dear one
    that I freely forgive
    but cannot do this
    whilst guilt will still live.

    Remember that Adam
    in dread fear and guilt
    accused Eve of the sin.
    Thus the first wall was built.

    Then remember my Son
    who destroyed all guilt's power.
    but it seems safer for you
    to stay locked in your tower.

    I'll come running toward you
    if you will but see:
    I know you are bound
    and I will set you free.

    Trust me to love you
    and the guilt will be gone
    then repentance will flow
    and we shall be one."


    (c) JT 2010

  • Thrice Touching Heaven

    MORNING

    Lam 3: 22-23

    It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed,
    because his compassions fail not.
    They are new every morning:
    great is thy faithfulness.

    NOONDAY
    Ps 91: 4-7

    He shall cover thee with his feathers,
    and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
    Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

    EVENING
    Ps 4: 4-8

    Stand in awe, and sin not:
    commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
    Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
    There be many that say, Who will shew us any good?
    LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
    Thou hast put gladness in my heart,
    more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
    I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
    for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Two Islands

Iona and Lindisfarne are special to me. It was aged 16 that I first encontered Iona and was drawn to something of the 'thinness of Place' that graces that space. Lindisfarne came later in my life-journey but I discovered I had to be there when the island was 'closed' to be conscious of Presence. Each Island has its founding saint, and each saint wrote their own poetry:

St Columba

Columba's Prayer
Delightful it is to stand on the peak of the rock,
    in the bosom of the isle, gazing on the face of the sea.
I hear the heaving waves chanting a tune to God in heaven,
    I see their glittering surf.
I see the golden beaches, their sands sparkling;
    I hear the joyous shrieks of the swooping gulls.
I hear the waves breaking, crashing on rocks,
    like thunder in heaven I see the mighty whales.
I watch the ebb and flow of the ocean tide;
    it holds my secret, my mournful flight from Eire.
Contrition fills my heart as I hear the sea,
    it chants my sins, sins too numerous to confess.
Let me bless Almighty God, whose power extends over sea and land
    whose angels watch over all.
Let me study sacred books to calm my soul,
    I pray for peace, kneeling at Heaven's Gates.
Let me do my daily work, gathering seaweed,
    catching fish, giving food to the poor.
Let me say my daily prayers sometimes chanting,
    sometimes quiet, always thanking God.
Delightful it is to live on a peaceful isle,
    in a quiet cell, serving the King of Kings.

St Aidan

Aidan's Prayer
Leave me alone with God
as much as may be.
As the tide draws the waters
close in upon the shore,
Make me an island, set apart, alone with you, God, holy to you.

Then with the turning of the tide
prepare me to carry your presence
to the busy world beyond,
the world that rushes in on me
till the waters come again
and fold me back to you.

dove

The Dove Of Life

Arc of love uplifted.
High encircled wings
Conspire with cloistered arch:
Ruin of undiminished prayer.
And by these two
fecund circle of life is formed.

An eternal ring
birthing, encircling,
and then directing
as by glass convex
our hopes
our prayers
to the focal point
of the Father’s heart.

All is encompassed
in that mysterious space.
Windswept stones sing out
and trefoil-light reveal

Wonderful Three
Eternal Trinity
Then, seeing Aidan’s hand raised,
we receive our Father’s blessing
and so are one.
(C) 2009

Bee Globe

Seeking

Mine is a small heart, Lord.
How can I hope to contain
all that I learn?
You share with me
of Yourself;
I read and forget,
I pray and am forgetful:
mindless,
despairing of light.

But I remember this at least:
it is not I who must reach You.
It is You who has,
who does,
reach down to me
and touches my heart;
encouraging my feet
to walk a few more steps.

Groping, yes;
hesitant,
confused – certainly.

Yet in this
my heart seems
by degrees
to be enlarged – just a little.

I’m not sure I understand more
but I am more sure of You
and Your large heart
and I am ‘strangely warmed’.

music

Reflection on Psalm 100

Make ecstatic music:
Harp and cymbal,
pipe and voice.
Worship with unbridled passion,
Here we meet our King — rejoice!

The God of all beginnings:
Primal lucid Word.
Ordains authentic amity;
Spoils the deep with light;
Creates communing chemistry.

The tenderest truest shepherd
(Guide to pasture
Good and fair)
Transforms our hearts of hardness,
Renews our strength through prayer.

The Spirit strong, enfolding:
Drawing on
with shouts of praise,
Pilgrims to the courts of glory;
Joyful journey all our days.

This God of signs, he sets us
‘Twixt hue’d bow
and hewèn earth;
Where generations sing his praise
And acclaim anew, new birth.

(C) 2013

Perspective

The Bible invites us to see we are not human beings on a spiritual journey but spiritual beings on a human journey.


Question

Is my gloom after all, shade of His hand outstretched caressingly? Francis Thompson (1859–1907) in "The Hound of Heaven"