September 2012


“…in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Rom.8.21 NIV


One day when I was walking past I saw a little boy,

such innocence was in his step, and in his face was joy,

and as I passed I heard a little voice that asked, what is

that noise? I think it was the workman’s trucks. But Lord, forgive

us for the wars and strife and suffering we have caused to come

upon the lives of little boys. Like lambs in fields on summer

days simplicity disarms the strong, but Lord you too

are in the wrong, for many times the innocent you slew

with earthquakes, famines, floods and cruel disease. I cannot think

you did not know about these things, nor are you one to wink

at them and hold you hand. Why don’t you intervene? His little

face is like a sun, it’s shining, giving your acquittal.



Lone Pine


One day my daughter Eve came home from school,

we have a photo of that afternoon,

a little girl is seated on the ground,

her face is covered with her hands, for she

is weeping for the tree we have cut down.

Recalling how she cried that afternoon

I think of friends who mourned the loss of pets,

and of a man who told me of his dog,

now gone, who had been seen around him in

the months after he died – a ghostly double

of the one that he had loved.

Just recently I heard a news report

about a pine, a feature at a war

memorial, planted as a seedling from

a cone a soldier had brought back. And now

it had a sickness none could cure, that day

it would be felled – I heard the chainsaw starting

up and listened to a bystander,

heart broken, holding back her tears.

Why are we moved by death, not only of

our kind, but even other living things?

Cezanne once painted a great tree, a pine

immersed in sky, a symbol of the force

of life, that thrusts all things beyond the earth

before they die. In later years again

he grasped the theme, this time he looked out on

a tree that grew beside him in his garden –

a grand Aleppo pine (that still lives there).

Now tree and earth and sky are in a complex

unity of fire and form and gentle

light. A lonely pine once grew upon

hill were battles raged. The hill they had

named after it, in memory of a song –

a lonesome pine where lovers carved their names

one night beneath the pale moonshine. When

warring ceased the tree was gone, five thousand

breathed no more, and from the branches that

remained, a soldier kept a cone, planning

its return. A hundred years have passed

since then, the witnesses have died, and now

the seedling, long a tree – today it falls.

The Turkish pines are noted for the honey

dew that forms upon their bark, the bees

that drink it make a precious honey, said

to heal. A legend says the infant Zeus,

while on the Isle of Crete, was nourished by

the honey dew found dripping from the trees.

An ancient god of war and peace, of life

and death, of love and strife, was nourished

by a tree – no wonder that we mourn

when one like it has ceased to be.

A lone pine in a field of blood, of human

life poured out as rain upon a barren

hill, your memory is now erased,

the swiftness of the chainsaw’s blades have left

a nation, like a child, bereft, returning

to their home to find a tree once loved

has gone. And we like pines upon a hill,

whose cones all open in the fire, releasing

airborne seeds, all know that we will die,

and though there will be those who mourn, the force

of life emerges still, and nectar falls

like dew upon the ground. And tiny shoots

will break the earth to reach again into

the air, and battlefields of wasted lives,

all covered now in summer green, a verdant

field become, all full of pines. The tree

Cezanne observed they say still lives, but even

if it dies (it surely will), its wild embrace

of blue sky and the earth beneath, remains

alive within the mind of God, whose garden

is the entire world, whose watching eyes

observe all things that live, in holy love.



In Sleep

The earth was young and all around were trees and fields
where life began to stir and new born man emerged
to see it all. He viewed the dawning of a world,
and God himself, the risen sun that shone on him
throughout the day, would walk with him as evening came.
The multitude of living things that God had made
where brought to greet him and be named according to
the wisdom God had given him. He saw the wild
abundance there, but felt within a sense that grew –
the whole majestic world still lacked a being whose name
he did not know. He slept, and as the deepest sleep
contains no dreams, the place he entered then was one
beyond the world he knew, a realm where hidden things
appear, of future times that now draw near, a world
to be arriving while the world that is was new.
From Adam’s heart the hand of God brought forth the nameless
one he sought, and so he found that love created
what had never been, desired, unknown, unseen.
A million years passed through his mind as God considered
human kind, the cries of bitter life beneath
the sun. And on a day unlike them all he looked
out on a darkened hill to see his light extinguished
like a flame. The perfect man hung on a tree
by restless men no longer free to walk as Adam
once had walked with God. And as he died, his eyes
now night, in deepest sleep another world began
to dawn. As Eve appeared from Adam’s side, his broken
heart released a tide of hope that grew to turn
mankind afresh into the love that God intends.
And far away a city forms of light and gold
and precious stones, the bride to be of Adam’s son
who sunk that day to lie entombed in dreamless sleep
of love.



When He Came Down


When He came down to walk upon the earth He made

and be among the living things He caused to be,

the universe He covered in the deepest shade

and all that lives He sheltered underneath a tree.

And when He came a golden sun began to shine,

and earth awoke to greet the coming spring of time.


To be with Him was more than any man could ask –

how joyful to be there, to hear His voice, to see

His face that was before the world began, but masked

forever now in human eyes, so clear and free.

To hear Him speak was like the wind of paradise

that gently fell on man from Eden’s summer skies.


And in His words and in His hands they felt the power

of other worlds come near, and climbing high they reached

to touch the sun, but did not understand the hour

that it would set, as waves that crash upon a beach.

Then shadows fell around that tree privileged to be

the glory of the coming new humanity.


Men sometimes watch the moon alone in the blue sky,

so delicate among the clouds, a crystal sphere.

To those observing here on earth with human eyes,

how many see in this frail form what will appear?

When shadows fall and night descends the shining moon

is witness to a glory – like an ancient rune.



When Men Ventured


When men ventured across the sea in search of lands

they looked up to the stars to guide their way.

They leant the movement of the tides and watched the birds

and sensed the changing light across the sky.


When Abraham was told to journey far from home,

he had no way to know where he would go.

He only heard a voice speaking from far away

that journeyed to the center of his soul.


The moon has known the path to take across the sky

to shine through every window from its throne.

It knows the times of rising and of setting, when to

grow, and when to fade away again.


When Abraham was told to take his only son

he did not know the end before it came.

He followed the instruction he was given, where to

go, and what to do when he arrived.

And on a mountain when he lifted up his eyes

he saw a ram with horns caught in a thicket.


The birds all soar across the distant skies to home,

remembering the way their mother taught.

The generations follow as the ones before,

upon the course that destiny encodes.


But long ago man altered all the ancient ways,

forgetting what he once had clearly known.

And now he needs primeval light to rise again

to shine into the window of his heart

to lead him to the mountains of the countless stars,

the promised land from which he once began.





A bolt of lightning hit an old tree in the garden,

those watching saw a blinding flash of light.

The heat within its core was greater than the sun,

its power hurled a branch just like a javelin.

Although they felt no fear, they trembled in their bones –

that night they closed their eyes and saw it still.


Man once expressed his view of life in tragedy –

nobility was marred by human flaws.

The javelin thrown in majesty of flight was found

to miss its mark and lie on empty ground,

and broken man, confronted with his destiny,

wept in recognition of what is.


The word, expressing mankind’s soaring tragedy,

is that of arrows failing in their flight,

and later it described the essence of our sin,

by which we mar the face of God inside.

How often do the arrows of humanity

lie useless, spent upon the battlefield,

and weeping, men look up into a faceless sky,

then turn their eyes again to face the earth?


Damascus was in sight when lightning blinded him,

and then he saw as clear as a new day.

The tragedy of man was fixed upon a cross,

the javelin hit its mark in human flesh,

and love alone poured down upon humanity,

in thunder bursts that drenched the thirsty ground.

O death where is your sting, O grave your victory? –

for man in Him has found his majesty.


They watched the lightning strike the tree in wondrous awe,

they saw the old tree broken by a lion’s paw.

How man has fallen from the heights that God intended,

how terrible the place in which his dreams have ended.

We watch a tragedy that sweeps towards finality,

where mankind sees, then grasps anew its destiny –

upon the cross the fall of man, his mournful cry,

the depth of night, the glorious light that cannot die.




The transfiguration of the sky is one of life’s great wonders,

the birds in adoration know it best,

carefully they watch until it bursts asunder,

knowing that to see is to be blessed,

their hearts ablaze anticipate what soon will be,

and some are even coloured by their destiny.


The canvas of the day is primed with the deep night,

a radiance appears where none had been,

the colours of the rising sun, awash with light,

ascend the heights and fill the sky between,

and night becomes an archipelago in dawn,

soon lost beneath the rising sea, as day is born.


But who would know what will befall the brightest day?

As insects find that life has brought them wings,

and butterflies will fly in summer skies, the way

that night transfigures day, who can begin

to understand? The light defused, like scent of flowers,

the night ascends on wings, with feather tips of stars.





When night became the womb of dawn

who knew how many would be born?


When wind was wedded to the trees

who knew how happy they would be?


When sand became the sea’s bright moon

a yellow crescent near the blue

who knew the waves would pierce it through?


When I became the son of man

who knew I am was what I am?


The two of us became as one

and now our joy has just begun.


And when the music filled the air

he saw the angels on the stairs.


But no one knew and no one cared

about the pain he came to share.


When sea became the moon’s dark night

a blue expanse that eats the light

who knew the sand could be so bright?


When death is just a memory passed

who needs to look into its glass?


When I renew the face of man

who cannot see I am I am?



Another Day of Life


Another day of life here on this circling earth

that hurtles into darkness like a stone;

but always near its friend the sun, who watches it

with its one great and constant shining eye.

I hear the morning birdcalls and the passing traffic,

the clouds, lit by the early light above me,

slowly move across the wide expanse of sky,

and nearby gums are yellow in the sun,

their shadows though, a world within that is unseen,

remains like thoughts – an inner partner to the

world of sight, that always travel near – these dark

and holy friends of light begin their daily

journey too. A bush in flower beside me stands

rejoicing in the sun, swaying so gently

in a barely moving early breeze. My thoughts

begin their journey too – for we are also

hurled like stones into the endlessness of night.

I am a circling sphere of consciousness,

drawn to the light that travels with me through the hidden

universe that is the mind. How did

it start to be? Those passing hours spent looking at

the world before me in my cot, or even

memories, long lost now, of times within the womb?

The whole external world had found an echo –

I am a resonance of it. Each human being

is like another ripple on the lake.

Perhaps existence is the stone, and consciousness

the sea which it has entered, breaking its surface.

The stone drops to the bottom, and the waves extend,

one after another, life after life, without

an end. We carry our experience of living

here within our minds, a complexity

of waves, extending out around the inner core

of things, and like the swells that cross the sea

are patterned by each other swell that passes them –

so our minds are full of thoughts, memories

and desires. But in a moment all can end.

Like the light of distant stars, that travel

here, and reach our world long after they are gone,

does consciousness continue? Our bodies fall,

but the great journey into night, once began,

how can it end, how can it cease to be?

And now the light is on the other side of me.

The sun has travelled to the western sky.

The trees have turned around to watch it disappear,

their shadow thoughts grow longer by the hour.

A bird swoops high into the branches of a gum,

alighting in a tangled nest of sticks,

the grey clouds are behind her, and she looks into

the sun – the world has landed in the nest

of me. It sees the distant day that slowly sets

behind the hills, and soon takes flight again

to other trees. And we, the nest, continue here –

within our womb of sticks and leaves there will

be other worlds that break their shells in search

of light.



Within a Cloud


Within a cloud above a mountain God revealed

his hidden plans. He used the structures of

the human world as symbols of eternity.

As water lies in pools when rain has passed,

and rivers rich with gold leave tiny fragments shining

in a pan, the mind of God in wisdom

chose these simple things to mark his will. There was

a table and a golden box, some curtains

made of linen and a lampstand like a budding

tree. As numbers often hold the secrets

of the universe, equations keys to stars,

these furnishings explain the etiquette

of holy banquets, full of love, unknown to man

on earth. The table set with twelve fresh loaves,

the lampstand lit with seven lights, a golden box,

now full of emptiness, with two poised angels

on its lid – how strange the master of all worlds

should speak like this, as symbols in a dream.

When Israel chose to make each thing, obedient to

the sights revealed, a glory came to live

with them –  a table set for royal guests, the candles

lit, the curtains hung, the ruler and

his glorious ones sat down to eat. Above the mountain,

skywards, high, the throne of God is found.

Its splendour is beyond all human words, another

realm of all that is. No dimension used

to measure earth can measure there. The crystal

air is different to the sea – so this world high

above is unlike all that we can know of

here. And God intends we breath this air and freely

feel the breezes there, so he came down

in awesome fire, and lit the mountain with his flames,

and on its peak the trembling earth was shaken

by this holy birth – infinity expanding

in the depths of things. Within the cloud

that rested there, beside the table and the lamp

and perfumed oil and flowing cloth all woven

with the thread of sky and blood and royalty,

an altar made of bronze and wood was placed

among the finery.  And those who understood

could see that life would soon be offered there,

among the gleaming soldier’s bronze, upon the wooden

beams, once sawn within the city gates,

Jerusalem would one day host the offering of

the Son. And nearby was a little pool

of bronze that caught the rays of sun, and all who would

could wash their face and look and see the One.



I Watched


I watched the moon through latticed leaves as clouds

swept by beneath. And like a bride’s long flowing

train their graceful movement paled before

the beauty of her face that looked on all

who watched her, poised above the sky. Today

when I looked up again, another was

where she had been, and though the branches were

so green with early growth of spring, the last

brown leaves blown by the wind were all it seemed

was left to see, her wonder now a memory.


We only have a little time to live,

and far above us clouds are coming from

another corner of the sky. The wind

has lifted, and the clouds increase their pace,

the trees all sway, and even tiny blades

of grass are shaking, though they too are rooted

in the ground. The other world of air,

like that heaven, seems to have the upper

hand, and trees long rooted in the earth

shall fall, and even rocks turn into sand.


Tonight the moon will be again, I do

not know from where within the darkened

sky it will arise, or, whether as

before, the wind will blow the clouds across

its face. I know it will be different though,

for every night it changes form, as we

do too, so like the tides that rise and fall

and travel through the hours of day like waves

towards a beach, we have a destiny

to be a fuller being than we are now.





Light can penetrate water. Beneath the waves

it can be seen. Those diving, even deep

below, can look up and see it filtering through.

Sometimes they see the face of the sun, mellowed,

floating on the surface. Only in the

deepest sea is true darkness found. There

the fish have adapted to the endless night

and have learnt to create their own illumination,

or simply do without. Our hearts are like this

too. Another world can peer into ours,

and sometimes we look up and see it there, shining

in our consciousness, and we feel wonder,

or even relief, that such a place is there,

beyond, a light in the sky – to us who do not

even know what a sky is (as fish cannot

conceive the air above the surface). And we,

who sometimes see, can just as often sink

within to depths were light can never reach,

and like the strangest fish of all, adjust to

life in darkness. Unless like Jonah on the

sea floor we call out again to see.



The Wind


How strong the wind blows here outside. The sky

is washed in blue, a fired glaze, the sun

a flower, ageless in the vase. I hear

its roar and see the trees all tossed by gusts

of its invisibility. It’s only

birds who know the way to navigate

in such wild seas. We find it blows our hair

and bites into our flesh with cold sharp teeth.

And teachers say the children now no longer

know how they should play, but wildly leap

across the fields like flocks of mountain goats.

A breeze is bearer too of seeds, and high

above, the yellow sun that seems to be

impassible, is churned by solar winds.



The Sea


Every day the waves crash into shore

as they have done for aeons past and will

for aeons more. The power of the distant

moon and winds that blow across the sea

have turned the liquid part of earth into

a realm of restless instability.

There were few nation states that loved the waves,

but those who mastered them, became the rulers

of lands far from home, until they too

where sent again back to the sea from which

they came. The great migration paths of birds

are epic journeys, crossing seas to mate

and have their young; beneath the waves are other

beings – the whales and salmon, tuna, turtles

and eels – each find their way across the seas.

The restless heart of man needs navigators

of the sturdiest sort, with skillful hands

and keenest eyes to judge the way, by sea

and sky, to cross the five great oceans of the

earth – sin, sickness, curse, the devil and

eternal death – and find the place to berth.





The lovely view from mountaintops of valleys

deep below, and distant streams among

the green, and clouds in white processions, simply

there upon the air, is sometimes sung

about by those who stand beneath the clouds

and watch the daylight fill the broad expanse

that make the earth aglow. And though they shroud

the sun from time to time the slow cloud dance

is beautiful to see and we who watch

the scene unfolding like a wave across

the sea of time are witnesses of much

we do not understand and are at loss

to speak to other men about. The birds

that hover near or fly across the valleys

see more of what we seek to see, to learn

from them who spend their days in empty

skies is what we aim towards. Returning

to simplicity, a noble goal, but how

can we whose lives have taken other winding

paths? Complexity is all we now

can see. But even mathematics shows

that simple thoughts may have the key to unlock

mysteries. Perhaps we should have known

to wait and think and feel and be are rocks

from which eternity ascends, and we

are given wings to fly, through patient use

our faculties can learn to soar and see

the world below in panoramic view.

But still we must be careful not to lose

ourselves in sky, to never soar so high

that earth is left behind and soon our muse

is gone – for earth alone is where they fly.



The Marks of Grief


The marks of grief are like a valley carved

from the mountains. A river makes its path

through earth and rock, and over time the landscape

changes. To those who know the scenery well,

the valley comes as no surprise, but others,

travelling through the hills, would not expect

to see it there, and marvel at the sight.

And we may also seek to hide it from

our eyes, an inner valley formed behind

familiar peaks, that slowly forms far from

our daily view. And only those who know

us well may sense a river flowing in a valley

far away. It has been known that travellers

sometimes find a secret valley high

up in the ranges. Few had seen its river

flowing there, surrounded by such noble

trees, and even grasslands swaying in the

wind. To those who love the mountains, hiking

far to find this place, it is a special

thing to see, a little paradise.



How Blue the Sky


How blue the sky can be some days! I

look up and see it there and often search

to find a way to speak of it. How do

we speak of simple things, so beautiful

and some so ethereal, and yet so crucial

to our lives? The shadows of the day

outside are flickering on the curtain drawn

across the window, birds are twittering

beyond the door. Sometimes we go inside

to get a better glimpse of things. Through inner

doors we find the world outside. A painter

will set up his easel by a riverside

and slowly paint the river’s steady progress

past a group of trees. His eye will shift

from scene to canvas, time and time again.

He tries to match the beauty there, with beauty

that he sees within. The canvas is

the meeting place of these two worlds of sight,

and if his gaze is clear, perhaps it will

become itself, the centre of his seeing,

as when a crystal refracts the light. So words

can help us, somehow defining what we seek

to know, gathering the outside and the inside

to a place where both can be seen, and like

the painter’s canvas, where each brush stroke must

be judged against the river’s flow, words

themselves are to be tested in the light.



Beside a Field


I stopped the car beside a field and listened.

The wind had made the wire fence beside me

resonate with harmonics in a mournful,

ghostly sound, a major third descending,

each note, though clear, was intangible

like the wind itself, and sometimes floated

there and then disappeared. Nearby was a

field of long grasses, dry, each stem moved

by the wind in a slightly different way

to all the others. Every now and then

a gust blew with the whooshing sound

we normally identify with wind, but now

was somewhat unexpected because of the

harmonics. As I listened I kept feeling,

or strangely hearing another note – a minor

third lower – that would with the other note

sound a minor chord, although I knew it

wouldn’t because of the natural properties

of the harmonic series. As I drove towards

this place, and again when I left, I noticed

a ploughed field. Its freshly turned soil

faced the sky. I felt the bounty of the

earth, and the hand of man given to open

it up. To be ploughed like a field – who

would desire that, yet it is so life affirming.

Human hands – in God’s image – have

been working the land for millennia.

But the wind is older still, we cannot

bear its image, unless within our spirits,

where we resonate with its mournful cry.



We Have a Tree


We have a tree whose roots are visible,

some at least, they stretch out from its centre

like directions on a compass, while the others,

unseen, point towards the earth’s deep molten

core. The roots appear to me like fingers

of an outstretched hand that reaches far

to hold as much of being as it can,

and holding it, its fingers cling with great

intensity. And so it grasps the earth

and all of life that’s given there. I look

and come to realize the hands that these

remind me of – the hands of Christ outstretched

I’ve seen in paintings by old German masters,

full of passion, agony and lit

within. And now I look up from the roots

to see the tree’s full majesty, arising

from the ground, reaching out in praise

and joy and victory to the sky. And tiny new

leaves are on each branch, and here beneath

all viewing it are humbled by its power.



A Solemn Ceremony


Look, the master of our destiny

is carried there, his lifeless body lifted

by his friends who knew the majesty

with which he lived his life deserved the gifting

of the best of earth, and so before the sinking

sun was laid to rest, a dark procession

made its way past crowds of men, unthinking

that the passing of the ages mentioned

in the scriptures, now concluded, lay

within this body, spent as the old day.


And like the clouds pass by the sun that sets

in western skies, they’d taken linen sheets

to wrap his precious limbs. And no regrets

had any then, who bravely went to greet

the fallen King and escort him to sleep

among the stones. From mountain ranges far

from there, a perfume bearing tree, grown deep

within the Himalayan hills, was garnered

to obtain a precious nard – with this she once

anointed him, who watched the funeral pass.


When Jacob died they took his body far

from where he lay – a company of chariots,

sent from Egypt with the mourners, started

out towards his fathers’ home. They stopped

beside a river, and with cries of solemn

mourning all gave honour to this man.

And then the family went alone, his fallen

body to entomb within the land

that God had promised them, a plot of earth

they purchased once, awaiting the new birth.


The sun had disappeared behind the hills,

the Sabbath day begun where none could travel

far. Within the tomb the Son was still,

his passion passed, and every work of marvels

he performed recorded now until

the world shall end, inscribed within the book

of life, except for one, and that will fill

eternity. For see – the earth was shook

and with it every tomb enslaving man,

as he arose, alive, the great I AM.



A Father


I used to wait for when my father came home.

Apart from seeing him, there were times he had

a paper bag inside his briefcase with

a present. How exciting those days were!

I have another memory of him chasing

me across the lawn. I knew that if I

reached the tree I would be safe – I was

in trouble!  See what funny memories come

to mind. I think about him now, his honesty,

the opportunities he gave to us,

the fairness of his thinking, his uprightness,

the many things he did to make my brother’s

life and mine a joyful one, a helpful

start to living in this world. And as

a child I used say, Our Father who art

in heaven, hallowed by thy name, every

night before I went to sleep, and dimly

knew there was a father they called God.

Today I am a father too, I wonder

how my children and their children

too will view their fathers, and I wonder

how my father and his fathers too

have dimly or more clearly seen their Father

who has always been and seen and cared.



Father’s Day


Father’s day began when there was evening

and there was morning, the first day, and the second,

and the third. His day sends rain and sunshine on the just

and the unjust. He provides the daily bread. On his day

he loves to let his kingdom come and will be done.

On that day he always forgives. Abraham

saw his day and rejoiced. On that day he always

gives good gifts to his children. On father’s day

he gave his son his inheritance and watched him leave,

and watched each father’s day for him to return,

and when he did, he ran to his son and embraced him,

and gave him a robe and a ring and a lamb – and went

out to plead with the other son to come inside and join them.

On father’s day he sees what is done in secret and rewards,

and the angels of every little one look at his face.

On that day he led

his son with a donkey and wood and a fire to a

mountain to offer him as a burnt sacrifice,

and the angel called twice from heaven,

and the third time he didn’t,

and his will was done on earth as it is in heaven,

and from a cross new heaven and earth began.

On father’s day his son is in his house about his father’s business.

On father’s day he fashions all our lives from out of clay.

On father’s day he wipes all of our tears away.



I Sit Here in my Room


I sit here in my room beside a pane of glass,

the sun is a warm presence on my back,

its home is deep within the sky so far from here,

a distant arrow shot that brings light near

to join celestial worlds to us so we won’t lack

the life for which we crave, but seldom ask.


The room around my body now is full of light,

each feature on the floor and walls is clear,

but outside in the world behind my head the sky

is brighter still, its light is more than eyes

can bear if any look into the shining sphere

in its long transit from the day to night.


We never are alone here in this floating world,

revolving slowly eastwards from the sun,

the planets, moon, ten thousand stars accompany us,

companions in a journey until dust

again lays claim to all that life had just begun

to see, the mystery that is untold.


Outside my room the distant light soon ceased to shine,

the face of earth diverts its gaze and now

we all must wait for it to circle round and turn

again into the sun, and so I learn,

all those who live without the sky will never flower,

I need to make the gifts it grants me mine.


An inner light is with me by the window side,

I let its beams illuminate my mind,

I see the glow of galaxies of stars like grasses

growing, blowing in the wind, to master

the complexity of thought within, to find

the commonality – God must confide.



I Watch the Slowly Moving Sun


I watch the slowly moving sun

crossing desert lands.

It sees the earth and sky as one,

united as the prophets sung

of once on desert sands,

a vision of the end of time,

eternity to us inclined.


The sun that crosses desert skies

is brightest when it’s noon.

Its radiance can blind the eyes,

a passing crow lets out a cry

to see it in full bloom,

and everywhere it is the same,

eternity is its true name.


The sky can barely hold the light,

spilling to the earth

it rises as onset of night

quickly overwhelms our sight

and blinds us, as the birth

of all that we cannot conceive

is birthed from sky’s eternal seed.


And even when the sun has reached

the distant edge of plain,

it seems its fiery core has breached

the sphere in which came and leached

the light till none remains,

I watch it die, the sinking sun,

and grieve till earth the sky becomes.


Australia is ringed by sea,

white breakers and white sands.

But deep within, eternity

is what its people once could see

embedded in the land.

A pilgrim now, I quietly come

to bow before the Holy One.



The River Takes the Day


The river takes the day reflected on its surface

and carries it so slowly far way.

The trees that stand there silently beside its banks

reflect upon a life that is to be.

But what they see reflected there upon the water

is the life that is. Mysteriously,

their image remains settled on the river as

the current carries life from what will be

to what has passed.  The sky above them also seems

to be in constant motion, though the floating

clouds keep drifting by a face that does not change,

but rather turns to look on other things.

Where are we within this scene, where do we go,

where have we been, what is this present at

our feet among the ripples in a stream that holds

our image there among the silent trees?

The river always looks towards the sky above,

an image of the sky is there among

the trees upon the gently moving mirror stream.

Although its face will sometimes turn away

the river is the host each day to day.



A Plume of Smoke


A plume of smoke rises in a slender column,

and charts its course to invisibility.

The fire beneath is master of this alchemy

and we the witness to events so solemn.


Its journey is a common destiny, the earth

becomes as sky, existence can’t remain

as it was once, but entering transfiguring flames

is changed within, as if a second birth.


The growth of consciousness is a great mystery.

How did the shell of matter burst asunder?

The mind is like the sky at night, all full of wonder,

existence open to eternity.


To see this great expanse is not all that we seek,

for thoughts both good and evil fill our hearts,

to know this world of which we are a tiny part

has brought to us more pain than we can speak.


Within this world of matter and of consciousness

eternity has entered like the sun,

igniting all the world with flames, the Holy One

who died in pain and anguish on a cross.


And on the day of Pentecost this fire burned

within. The centre of the universe

became the centre of our being. No longer cursed

to be a ship unable to return,


adrift upon the open sea, a being without

a destiny, our hearts are lit by love,

and rising like a plume into the sky above

we vanish, his invisibility.



O Sun


O Sun, who crosses distant skies to be with us,

burn again within me as before,

light the inner world in which I truly live

and let your day keep breaking on that shore.


Liberate my soul to love eternity

and all that has been marked by heaven’s flames,

as dawn brings warmth and light to all the waiting earth

and only what is hidden stays the same.


May all I love receive what you have given me

as open hearted and as pure as you

who sends the rain and sunshine without fail to all,

indifferent, whether they are false or true.


May those who cannot see what has begun, or feel

as yet the warmth, and sleep as in a prison

of a heart untouched by morning’s light, and only

know the distant sight of stars within,


may you in me bring joy to them and liberate

their longing souls, and may the universe

be filled as I and them and all who come to taste

light’s living stream of which you are the source.



In Some Cities


In some cities you cannot see the stars,

these marks of our identity, each one

equivalent to a human life, the car’s

exhaust and smog and soot have all begun

to steal away. Perhaps they soon will only

be a memory and like a rootless

tree mankind will wither, fall and be

no more, for as the angels in the highest

look into the Father’s face, each one

a representative of children here,

we need their lights above as the summation

of our lives, significance kept near.



By a Line of Trees


By a line of trees they lowered him into the earth.

I watched the clouds, and soon I was travelling along

country roads with green curves of hills and great spaces

between land and sky. Years before I knew he had stood

in a churchyard near the graves and looked out at the

world before him and prayed – positioned between the dead

and the living.  He had no fear of death, and now he is there,

and I am here, watching his body descend near the trees

and the clouds. And soon I am sitting in an airport and travelling

late in the night back to home. And his room, where I slept

the previous night, is empty, and his chair, and the sky.


In his room, all covered with empty cans and medicine packets,

his body lay bloated on the floor. I identified him and quickly

stepped outside. I knew he had feared the nights when his breathing

was bad. To find the air was a struggle, and he sometimes called out

to God. His son lived somewhere out in the bushland, almost

a madman. They hadn’t talked for years. His father in the time

before his death had said, I had a good son, but I didn’t know it.

I had two dreams afterwards. One of him asking me in to talk,

and one of his house empty, accept for his bags packed with clothes.


My Nanna was ninety-six when she died. I chose a hymn

about God’s promise to Simeon, that he would see the Messiah

before his death, and his acceptance, now he held the infant

Jesus in his arms. She had once told me that at night she prayed

from Psalm one hundred and nineteen, I have strayed like a lost

sheep, seek your servant. I played the B flat minor prelude

by Bach as the service concluded, and don’t remember tears.


It was a snow covered winter morning, and I was given the

key to a small chapel attached to the retirement village. It had

once been the residence of the Bishop of Christchurch, and

this was his private chapel. I unlocked the door and there, inside,

he lay in a casket in centre of the room. The ceiling was

curved like that of an old sailing ship.  I sat nearby and

thought; and after a while went and looked at the names,

written in fountain pen, of those who had already died.


On the day before Father’s Day he went into bushland

not far from where he was brought up as a boy. And

there he ended his life. When I thought of him I saw

an image of a sandal lying upturned on the ground.

The lost son, returning to his home, and stumbling.

And the Father appearing, running to welcome him.


Well after midnight the phone rang, John, is there

life after death? In the rain, at dusk, that afternoon –

I saw it on the news – her partner had been killed.

How death comes so suddenly, and now he is not here

anymore. No face is spared of those who loved him,

and life continues, though the sun is marred.


She always said that we do not live long here.

Then in those days when she became sick, she

decided that now was the time, and gave up eating,

and some days even gave up talking to those who

would visit. The last day I saw her, the day before

she died, I asked her if I could read aloud from

the Bible. She nodded, so I read from Hebrews.

Abraham left his home and his country behind

and to search for another, a better one. He

went out, not knowing where he was going, and

lived by faith in the land of promise, in tents.

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called

his God, and prepares him a city to live in.


I saw his face, lying asleep forever.

A group of friends drew near, each

took their turn, and we said farewell.

And the family that we hadn’t met

before chattered with us on the lawn.

Little bits of a life were filled in, then

we looked at the sun and the afternoon

light on the trees, and turned to go home.


And as we begin we all end.

And every beginning discovers

that every ending is the same.

And faces that looked out on

the day, look out on the day

no more. And afternoon light

follows the light of the morning.

And faces that greeted a new

baby boy, will farewell a man

when he’s old. And as the day

ends each will return to

their home to patiently wait

for their end. As night

follows day, and stars

follow light, and seas follow

rivers, and rain follows

clouds, and days follow hours,

and years follow days,

soon the wave breaks,

and here in the middle,

the wheat in the field,

the light in the air,

the sound in my ears,

the hours to spare,

are marvellous to me.


They anointed your body with spices and oils,

and lay it so tenderly far from the terror

that like a great wave had engulfed it, spoiling

the beauty of your gentle visage, a mirror

of heaven. And now in the darkness of stone

and earth you lie with your deep sunken eyes,

that seeing the worst of the world had shown

only love, and now await to arise

like two suns that secretly circle the depths.

All over the earth the rivers are pouring,

they flow by their thousands, stretching the length

of the land, yet the sea, willing, takes all.

The rivers of death that began at creation,

into whose darkness our tributaries flow,

carrying the joy and beauty of nations,

the life and potential of man, below

in your tomb, the sea of your body receives

without ceasing them all. And here even death

disappears, sunk to the roots of the trees.


For now I surrender myself to the flames,

knowing that I have a share in your name,

the one who once had a share in our birth,

is the one who once had a share in our death,

and as the sun shines in the lands to the east,

and those who there will share in the feast,

soon the dawn breaks on these lands to the west,

and all will receive their portion of rest,

and here in the sun no shadows shall be,

and from every fear and sorrow set free,

we will see.



On the Surface


On the surface of the mountain lake

the passing day remains, the sky, the slowly

moving clouds, the sun whose journey takes

the light eventually away. And so

it is each day. But when the winter comes

and all the water turns to ice, the view

of sky is gone, and even if the sun

should shine no one can see the beauty

any more. And so we all must wait

until the orbit of the earth returns

the world to where it was before, too late

for winter days, they’re beauty comes from learning

how to see a light within. And now

as warmer days increase, and once again

the stillness of the lake accepts the showers

falling from the sky in light like rain,

I wish that my heart too would be so pure,

a mirror to the kindness of our God

that shines on all around, and shares the cure

for all the coldness of the world. Should

any wonder though about those icy days

that still will come, the light of which I speak

is different to this world, it comes and stays,

what shines above, shines within that lake.



When Heraclitus


When Heraclitus looked out on a river

he saw that its being never remained the same,

and still he declared that all things are one.

In these trackless and unexplored places there waits

to be found what we did not expect, and hidden

in nature are secrets it does not quickly reveal.

A logos orders all things, but humans are prone

to misunderstand it – as we forget our dreams,

we fail to notice what we do when awake. The

universe ignites like a fire, and is extinguished,

endlessly blazing in flames none can hold.

All is one, and nothing endures but change,

and everything flows like a river which

cannot be stepped into twice. Those sleeping

each have a world of their own, the waking

have this one in common. And time is a game,

beautifully played by children. He saw with

original wonder, the wonder that awaits us.



I Looked


I looked into the face of a young child,

barely a year old, and thought about

the world they would look out on when their smile

had passed through time to reach my age. Outside

the earth itself is changing, cycles by which

living things charted times and seasons

are no longer as they were, and things that stitched

one life to other lives, the great allegiances

of earth are failing. Unfamiliar

eyes look out towards our own – the eyes

of animals, in some ways similar

to ours, possess a majesty. The sky

above, that witnessed their existence here,

is emptier, as when we loose someone

we love, as one by one they disappear.

Humanity has spent a perfect summer,

all our cultures grew and flourished in these

halcyon years, millenniums that could

continue but for modern man’s disease.

In hubris rhythms were not understood.

In ignorance and greed old boundaries set,

like those dividing sand from sea, were breached

and principles that govern earth were let

thereby to take another course, and so each

natural system is transformed. The change

begun, what kind of world have we bequeathed

to those who follow us? It is so strange

that we, who live here now, who’ve learnt to feast

upon the riches of the earth, should bear

responsibilities like these. I look

at him and wonder, close my eyes, and fear.


Paul wrote so long ago within a book

about creation’s longing to be free.

Lord, give us wisdom, order destiny

that man should live more quietly and be

a neighbour to creation, its true king,

for wicked kings do not endure, your book

describes their fate, and now while there is time

may we all learn from past mistakes, and sing

with you the new song of the lamb, who lies

down with the wolf, and lion with the calf,

and on your holy mountainside none harms

and none destroys, for all the earth is filled

with knowledge of the Lord, so we, until

that day appears, cry out, Lord Jesus, come!



Tragedy and Hope

Every day we live on earth is marked by tragedy and hope.
Towards the end of every day the sun is placed upon a pyre.
In great solemnity the birds and watchful human beings are witness
to its immolation, few can view it without awe, existence,
in its daily death, can see it too will end, consumed by fire,
the flames that holy love decreed should turn the universe to smoke.

And every dawn, far to the east, the sky begins to shed its skin.
The night is like an ancient hall, with sparkling shields upon its walls,
and through its windows blow cold winds of desolation and despair.
And there, within this fearful place, the King of Glory has his chair
on which he sits, and through the air his voice is heard, commanding all
destruction cease, and life emerge again, renewed and without sin.

O God who made the world like this, that tragedy and hope exist
together in the passing days that tumble as a waterfall
from heaven to the earth, each drop an evidence of love, for like
the crystal sphere of earth, lit by the sun and then by stars at night,
this life is full of you, who, in both joy and pain, gave us your all,
that we might learn to love, forsake our fears, and grasp what truly is.

This morning as I drove my son to catch an early morning train,
we saw a long white cloud above the river. He remarked how good
to be near where the water and the air were one. Upon the surface
of all things a glory rests, and like a bird upon its nest,
you cherish life that you have brought to be, and so have understood
each tiny detail of this world, each childlike joy, each man’s dark pain.

The cloud is resting on a long stretch of the river, with a mountain
range behind it, parallel. As day grows warm the cloud is sure
to lift, but in the night may form again. Is all our life lived in
the shadow of a cloud, that hovers over us, unseen? Within
we sometimes sense that we are not alone, and maybe at the core
of things there is someone who understands, who we perhaps could count on.

Today I went to see a friend who’s sick in hospital. She told
me how God took her fears, and like a crystal sea, he carried them
all far away. But while I spoke with her the doctor came and told
her that her life was in the balance. Seeing her eyes, as yet not old,
were clouding up with tears, I wondered what to say, she mentioned then
she did not fear to die, for God was near, and love our life enfolds.

And so the Spirit helps us in our weakness, interceding for
creation with deep groans until again all things are very good,
and all the world enriched like rivers brimming up with flecks of gold,
and never more will cries of pain be heard, the sufferings of old,
for everything is lifted, like a cloud, and all become as it should
be, and in his beauty we can see what we were longing for.

When his face set, our faces dawned. See, the shadow of a cross
has covered all. Three hours before the night would come and claim the day,
the light passed from his eyes, and with it all the lights of human eyes
that have looked out upon the world since man emerged, only to die
in earth’s long cycles of renewal and decay. But you now say
to broken man, behold your face is fresh again, nothing is lost.

As travellers sometimes in the night look out towards a distant city,
we who come to know you here already glimpse what is to come,
and with our hearts learn how to pass through blackness and despair to dream.
Greater than what could be hoped for, grander than all that has been –
so he is, the one amongst us. As the sky contains the sun –
all our living is to be the canvass of immensity.