Tuesday 1 October 2013

Running down the beard

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
    running down upon the beard,
upon the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!

Psalm 133

29 and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

Matthew 27

The psalm is a Song of Ascent, sung by pilgrims on their way to Zion to rejoice together in one of the festivals of God. In it David, an ancestor of Jesus, refers back to the first anointing of the first High Priest-
12 And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to consecrate him.
Leviticus 8:12

It is a joyous song and brings together three great occasions for happiness among God's people. A remembrance of the past institution of the priestly office to forever offer praise and thanksgiving to the One who rescued His people from slavery and bondage, an enjoyment of the present companionship and love of the pilgrim people and a looking forward to the celebrations in the Holy City before the Tabernacle of the Blessed One. One can easily imagine the caravan of returning exiles or those of the diaspora blending their voices together in the same sort of harmony with which they had blended their lives and their journeys together for many days, perhaps weeks or even months and now the end of all their efforts was in sight.

How different and how radically similar was the anointing of our Lord and Saviour. The blood trickling down His scalp from the cruelly stabbing thorns driven ever deeper by the blows from His mock sceptre. This harmony of mockery from the brotherhood of Roman soldiery. This final anointing of the ultimate High Priest.  

In contemplating this mystery of the Crowning with Thorns we too can see three occasions for happiness since we have a God who can bring good out of evil and great good out of great evil. By His Passion and Death Jesus took up His role as both High Priest and Sacrifice being forever before the Father that we might be forever freed from the penalty rightly due for our sins and our selfishnesses.  We can see that never for  moment in the deepest depths of His passion was Jesus separated in love and tenderness from Mary His suffering Mother. The bonds of love united them so strongly to each other that each felt the suffering of the other. And through Mary we too can be firmly united to our Lord whether He is visible before us or hidden from our sight. Love acknowledges no barriers of time, place or distance. And we can see that at the end of this dreadful journey, through the torment and the Cross awaits the Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus goes before us and we can rejoice that He will not leave us bereft but extends to us the sure and certain hope that one day we shall accompany Him.

The Song of Ascent on our lips is the one that David sung but it is of David's Son that we think while we sing. And the Zion to which we ascend is a holier mountain and a more pure city. There we will find rest for our souls. 


October Rosary Haiku

October is the month of the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mysteries of joy
Of sorrow, light and glory
Mary guides us home

@stevhep #haiku #rosary

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Unable to Resist

A Reflection on Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power.
11 Put on the full armour of God so as to be able to resist the devil's tactics.
12 For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens.
13 That is why you must take up all God's armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full.
14 So stand your ground, with truth a belt round your waist, and uprightness a breastplate,
15 wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace
16 and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One.
17 And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God.
18 In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God's holy people,

The Apostle, in prison and in chains, writes with a zest and vigour that suggests stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage.

grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power

Here we have, perhaps, a clue to St Paul's freedom of mind and spirit. That which gives him strength is not self reliance. Autonomy only makes us as strong as our weakest point. Reliance on our Saviour God lends us a power whose strength is made perfect in weakness. As David wrote in Psalm 62 Rest in God alone, my soul! He is the source of my hope. To rest in God alone means to rest in Him and nothing else but Him. It also means that the soul's path to Him is a solitary one. Alone we penetrate His mysteries and find peace. But this is not the end point. The community of two, one God and one believer, is not enough to satisfy infinite Love. It must be productive, it must bear fruits. Rested and refreshed the soul gains strength in the Lord and goes forth with power to do the works which Love imperatively demands.

For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle

 The Ephesians and the Apostle had no shortage of human enemies ranged against them. It would seem that the armies and hosts of Man were drawn up in battle array against the Primitive Church while the Apostle exhorts his squadrons and platoons to form up and face an altogether different foe. But, what is and what seems to be are not always the same. These new Christians were being pointed in the correct direction. We do not wage war against those whom we love and the Ephesians loved all humans. The fight is against the darkness within the enemies of the Church. The ignorance, the fear, the seared consciences, the anger that the reproof of a pure life lived quietly provokes in those who feel impugned by it. The struggle takes the form not of fire against fire, steel against steel but of meekness against strength and of forgiveness against unjust persecution. And in that conflict only those grown strong in the Lord with the strength of His power can stand their ground.

 take up all God's armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full.

Even though you put out everything you yourself have within you, the fruits of your autonomy, you will not be capable of any resistance at all. You will be as a barrier of straw in the path of a tsunami. Reliance on self-power is an insidious temptation to everyone who thinks highly of their own qualities, even their own virtues. But, what have you got that was not given to you ?(1 Corinthians 4:7) No, we are not strong enough in ourselves which is why gifts are offered to us to give us the power that we need. It is the essence of a gift that not only is it freely given it must also be freely received and if we do not choose to receive it then we will not have it. And without the armour of God our only defences are the same ones that have served us so badly and for so long. Do we not grow weary of them and of the defeats they bring with them?

always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it

Having something and using that something do not always go hand in hand. Faith, which is more than an abstract assent to an abstract proposition, is something that cannot be a matter of whimsy if it is to be of service. It must be a constant companion. Moreover it is not an object we carry in order for it (and us with it) to be admired. It is a working instrument. It has purposes to fulfil, ends to achieve, a world to conquer. If in a time of trial, a moment of anguish an ordeal of suffering we forget about our faith then we cannot use it. We cannot conquer with it. We cannot put up any resistance on the evil day.

 keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. 

The Apostle is wise enough to not only suggest to the Ephesian what they should do but also how they should do it. He has laid out a demanding programme. One cannot follow both the path of the world and the Apostolic Christian path. Yet to break from the world, marching to war against principalities and powers is no easy pilgrimage to make. The world has such allurements, the masters of darkness such potency. Keep praying in the Spirit he says. There are many ways to pray and the world and the principalities can infiltrate even, perhaps especially, into this area. False ways of praying and false spirits can and do mislead, often with terrible consequences. St Paul, using his Apostolic authority and experience and that of the universal Church has taught the Ephesians how to pray in the Spirit and how to discern malicious counterfeits of the same. The strength we need we gain from God in prayer when we pray rightly, when we pray continuously, when we humbly submit our methods of prayer to the traditions received in the Church and when we rest in God alone.

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Sunday 11 August 2013

Mercy Surrounds You

Psalm 23
Walk through the shadowed
Valley without fearing death
Mercy surrounds you
Immaculate Heart

Protean love which
Adapts its beautiful self
To meet every need

Hibiscus blossom 
Pointing up, towards the light
Seasonal flourish

Delicate blossom
Jade clusters swaying in breeze
Soft colours soothe sight.

Brooding sky, black wings
Extended, threatening all.
Starlings build their nests.

Underground streamlet
Coursing clear, through living rock.
Springs into the light

Immaculate Mary

Saturated with
Love, as grass with morning dew
Mary's gentle heart
2 Timothy 4:6,7

Near at hand is the
Time of my dissolution 
I have kept the faith
Feast of the Transfiguration

Briefly the veiling 
Flesh is transfigured by light.
For eyes that can see.

Proverbs 8/9:35,36

Who finds Me finds Life
All those who hate me love death
Hurting their own souls

Psalms 149:2

Let the children of
Zion be joyful in their King.
Loving hearts rejoice


Windows of the soul
Expressive eyes. See farthest
When looking inward
Rusty leaves falling
In slow light russet showers.
Sun's dappled shadows.

The year fades away
Tints become rich, colours deep
Swallows flee sunward 

Slowly rotating
In a downward fluttering
Autumn's herald leaves

Harshly croaking Crow,
Sits funereally clad, 
Waits for carrion
Feather-like fingers
Of cloud across morning sky.
Pointing to the dawn

Enjoy the failing
Light, delight in passing scenes
Dwell in what endures

 More of my haiku can be seen on +stevhep on google+ and @stevhep on Twitter

Friday 2 August 2013

CatholicScot is unwell

This blog has been relatively inactive recently. In part this is because I have had very low levels of energy. I have just been diagnosed with a condition called carotid sinus hypersensitivity which may explain the problem. The plan is for me to have a cardiac pacemaker inserted which should go some way to alleviating the symptoms. If, God willing, this works then I hope to resume my normal rambling ways here. All prayers will be gratefully received.

Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him. Job 15:3

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Thursday 2 May 2013

Month of Mary and other poems

Lovingly in soft
Arms encircled. Life and Light
Long promised firstborn 

Mother of the Lamb

Rejoice O Mother
Of the Lamb. Be glad in Him
He will delight you

Mary's Mantle

Mantle of Mary
Shielding her children, praying
Gracious advocate

Woman of the Apocalypse

Mary, clothed with clear
light, crowned with stars. Radiant.
Handmaid of the Lord

Psalm 50/51 Miserere

Let the bones you have 
Crushed rejoice with your gladsome 
Spirit. Contrite joy.

Carthusian Night Office

Deep night. Monks slow chant.
Sonorous praise. Light and shade
Meditative hour 

Psalm 33/34 Benedicam Dominum

Look upon Him and
Be radiant. Reflect His
Light. Be ye transformed.

They looked to him and
were radiant. Reflecting
Light. Transformed by light

John 20:15

Jesus whom we seek
Desires to be found. In this 
There is hope. And love.

Luke 10:39

Pure, tranquil and deep
Reflecting what is above.
Serene mountain lake

Song of Songs 1:1

Kisses sweeter than
Wine. His tender hand, His strong
Arm. Glad submission.

St Catherine of Siena

The one who loves would 
ever be one with what he 
loves. Christ Crucified.

Heart Harbour

Our Lady of Still
Waters. Restful calm haven.
Prayerful, peaceful heart

Catholic Scot has postural hypotension (Psalm 83/84)

My soul longs for you.
My flesh faints. You make me to
Swoon, your breath revives

Monday 8 April 2013

The Seven Questions of Pontius Pilate

Are you the King of the Jews?

Am I a Jew?

What have you done?

So you are a king?

What is truth?

Where are you from?

Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?

(John 18 and 19 RSV)

In his account of the dialogue between our Lord and his judge St John the Theologian puts a number of questions into the mouth of Pilate. The Roman Governor is, in fact, one of the very few gentiles with an extended role in the Gospel accounts. Here, perhaps, St John conscious that most of his audience were also gentiles makes Pilate their representative. The questions he asks are important not simply in the context of the Passion but also they are important for us. They go the the heart of who Jesus is and why He matters to the world.

Is Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed one of God, for whom the Jews had long been waiting in in whom they vested such high hopes? If He was then it would follow that Jewish prophecy was founded on the truth that there was, and is, One God who intervenes in human history and has revealed Himself through a covenant relationship with the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus did not answer Pilate directly but readers of the Theologian would recall His dialogue with another gentile in Samaria-

25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
John 4

Does this matter to non-Jews? Very much so. If there is but one God, Father, Creator and sustainer of all that is, then His interventions into human history have a purpose which we would do well to heed. In a sense we are all Jews now. The Messiah has opened the doors into the people of God to all who are the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by faith and not simply by blood. Or, more precisely, we are children through the blood of Christ rather than the blood of Abraham. And being made members of God's household we obtain new privileges and duties.

What had Jesus done? Speaking to a household of gentiles St Peter described His actions in this way-

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him
 Acts 10

But the High Priestly party described them very differently-

47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”
John 11

The key difference was that the Apostles saw the power of God acting through our Lord guaranteeing the success of His mission. albeit in ways they did not foresee. The Jerusalem authorities saw the power but doubted the source. For them He was only a man and Rome was greater than Him. In Him the Apostles hoped and because of Him the Sanhedrin feared.

Was Jesus a King? He was, and is, the author of all kingship yet His own authority is both vastly more and vastly less than that which we usually attribute to our earthly rulers be they Princes or Presidents. Less because He is the one who washes our feet and takes our stripes for us. More because-

25 Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
26 They will perish, but thou dost endure;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away;
27     but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.
Psalm 102

The interesting thing about the question "What is truth?" is that having asked it Pilate left without waiting for an answer. In that, surely, he is a representative figure for all of us. He knew that this was perhaps the most important question of all. He knew also that he was in the presence of one who could answer that question. Yet the pressures of the world and its demands upon him took priority. He left Jesus in order to stop being ignorant in the presence of knowledge and start being powerful in the presence of those subject to him. God reveals Himself to those who listen. Some listen not at all, some but seldom and very few listen with all their being all the time. In this Pilate reveals what we are and the Blessed Virgin Mary shows what we should be.

Where have you come from? An important question for Jew and gentile alike.
Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.
John 7
To which He replied-
You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know.29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.
John 7
To Pilate He gave no reply which conveyed precisely the same amount of information as His answer in the Temple did. He was called a Galilean and a Nazarene. We are told that He was born in Bethlehem. None of this tells us where He came from. Only Gabriel told this and only Mary heard it

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God.
Luke 1

The seventh question is clear. Man tells God that we have power over Him. The same assumption made in Eden is now made in the Praetorium and, perhaps, within your heart and mine. We can take up and put down Jesus as and when we want in the measure that we want. The power is ours.Yet Pilate was mistaken, the High Priest was mistaken. And you? Are you in error too?

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Sunday 7 April 2013

Torrent of Haiku

Little things matter

Old woman dying
Pain etched face, gentle slow smile
Grandchild holds tea cup.

Swallow in Spring

Declining sun tints
With gold skeletal tree branch.
Swallow seeks Spring nest.

The need and blessing of prayer

Rubbled-over heart.
Give no real power to ruins
Beneath, life throbs, hopes.


Transcendent glimpse of
Clear beauty. Sunny upland
Within and without

The Rivulet

Tumbling fresh, crystal 
Clear, ice cold over rounded
Rocks. Spring stream runs home.

Autumn Tints

Colour of dead leaves
Faded browns, russets. Twilight.
Lost youth moonlight bathed

Sacred Heart

Heart of Jesus may
I abide within you. Dwell 
In your sweet abode 

Restless Heart

Immaculate Heart
Of Mary, be you within 
Me. Seat of Wisdom

Gulls cry

Smiling sun, biting
Wind. Kittiwake calling out.
Light spangled ocean.

Early Riser

Combing the little
Ones tangled hair. Sun laughing 
At window. Spring dawn.

Brief Lives

Cherry blossoming, 
Brief, frail, sun nurtured beauty- 
Lamb rests in shadow

Spring Blossom

Branches new laden
With blossom quiver, soft breeze.
Sweet scent tumbles free.

Easter Story

Spring frost slays new buds.
Hidden seeds, untouched, grow on.
Bright flowers bring joy.

Consuming Fire

Jesus, Saviour, Light
Of life. Mary's Son, God's Son
With light consume me.


Bejewelled night sky
Cold comfort, distant beauty.
Winter stream shines pale.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Passiontide haiku

Winter's last talon
Reaching into Spring. Bitter
Cold slays bright new bud

He annoys us- Holy Week reflections

                                                             Joseph thrown into a pit.

12 Let us lay traps for the upright man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our sins against the Law, and accuses us of sins against our upbringing.
Wisdom 2

25 Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 Whoever serves me, must follow me

John 12

Humans, saints and sinners alike, can seldom honestly claim to commit any action for but one single motive. We bring the whole of our previous experience, our outlooks and our feelings, to bear upon each of our acts whether we are conscious of this or not. An artist when asked how long it took to make a particular sketch could honestly reply "five minutes and an entire lifetime." Those authorities of Church and State who conspired to bring about the trial and death of our Lord on the first Good Friday did so, they thought, to prevent Him fomenting a dangerous spirit of unrest which would bring down upon all Israel the avenging fury of Imperial Rome. In part that really was their motivation, and a very sensible one by worldly standards. The prophetic words from the Book of Wisdom, however, point us towards another reason, no less powerful but unacknowledged, which was at work in the conspiracy to kill Jesus.

Saintly people are intensely annoying. They irritate us. We think that we live good, moral, justifiable lives which could be a little bit better but not much. We are better than our neighbours, so we are within our rights to despise them, and not very far short of the best we could be. When we encounter (or hear about) those whose lives are massively more genuinely good than our own we are, as they say in Scotland, black affrontit. Their existence poses a fundamental challenge to how we understand ourselves and how we choose to live and move and have our being. They imply that we require a complete change of mind and heart if we are to be genuinely, absolutely, good and not just relatively so. Rather than doubting ourselves it is existentially much easier to doubt the saint. They are lying, they are hypocrites, they are bigots, they are dangerous. The fury against Jesus was not simply the result of an accurate political calculation. It was personal, truly, madly, deeply personal.

The implication of our Lord's words that His followers must hate this life is that those who love this life must necessarily hate them not for what they say but for what they are. His life no less than His words are a constant reproach to those who find themselves more or less comfortable with themselves and the case is the same with His followers. We do not like being reproached. Still less do we like it if we are in the positions of teacher, leader and exemplar. If we cannot ignore the challenge, as the High Priestly party and the Pharisees could not, then our choices are to accept it and change ourselves, repudiating all that we are and all that we have been, or to silence it by whatever means come to hand. Passiontide was a conjunction of political expediency with personal angst. The boil which was to be lanced, and lanced it truly was, Jesus, stood as a thorn in the flesh of those for whom flesh was all that they considered to be important.

Those Christians of today who retrospectively stand on the side of Jesus and in condemnation of His condemners will do well to recall these words of His Whoever serves me, must follow me   Being considered annoying is not in itself a sign that we are following in our Royal Masters footsteps. Neither is being persecuted although both these things should be notes of the Christian life amidst the masses of the worldly. What following Jesus means here is just this, live the Good Life unselfconsciously. Do what comes unnaturally to us as if it came naturally because it comes supernaturally. Complete and humble surrender to the work of Grace within us is the only basis upon which we can do this. We must provoke annoyance not by being provocative but by being pure peace.

Monday 18 March 2013

A Death Must Follow, Palm Sunday Reflections

15 Thus, through his intervention, a new covenant has been bequeathed to us; a death must follow, to atone for all our transgressions under the old covenant, and then the destined heirs were to obtain, for ever, their promised inheritance. 16 Where a bequest is concerned, the death of the testator must needs play its part; 17 a will has no force while the testator is alive, and only comes into force with death

Hebrews 9

For those joyful pilgrims to Jerusalem who welcomed Jesus with such exuberance there was no thought of death. They believed, and rightly believed, that the path before His feet and theirs was the fulfilment of the promises of God, the glory and triumph of the heir of King David over His deadliest and most intransigent foes. They were right in their choice of a Champion of their cause. They were wrong in assuming that they knew who the enemy was and what was the weapon that would defeat him.

It was not Rome or the High Priestly party at whom Jesus aimed. It was at death and the power of death. And His weapons were submission, defeat and an agonising passing into the shadow of destruction. The ending of life and with it the apparent dashing of His hopes and those of His followers, the joyful, exuberant, hopeful pilgrims scattered and despairing, sheep without a shepherd.

In the day of optimism all surely remembered the words of Zecariah See where thy king comes to greet thee, a trusty deliverer; see how lowly he rides, mounted on an ass, patient colt of patient dam! Our Lord knew, if no one else did, that lowliness was not a cloak which He was about to cast off as He gloriously led an army to victory. Lowliness, humility, was not with Him a state of mind which could come and go. It was an essence, not an accident, of His nature. And to be true to Himself it could only be in and through and with this essential characteristic that He would fight His battle, secure His triumph and bequeath His inheritance to those who believed in Him. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Though these Palm Sunday crowds could not foresee the future nor as yet understand their Messiah and His purposes they were not wrong to rejoice. They thought that their case was that of the Psalm 12 Word has come from the Lord, good news borne on a multitude of lips: 13 Routed their kings, routed the armies; they have left their spoils for housewives to carry away; 14 never shone silver so bright on a dove’s feathers, never gold so fair on a dove’s wings; and you, all the while, resting quiet among the sheep-folds! And so indeed it was. But they gained their share of the spoils as legatees, inheritors of a Testament, not as warriors and their camp followers.

It was the way then, as it often is now, that adherents of religion mix their material desires with their spiritual in a confusion of hopes and fancies not without a hint of greed for possession and prestige. Palm Sunday should teach us that if we hope in Jesus we do rightly especially when we recall that a death must follow. Upon that death we must stake our lives. And the Kingdom we shall enter into is not of this world.



Monday 11 February 2013

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Lent: some thoughts

The season of Lent is often viewed in its transient aspect. It is a preparation for Easter, a journey, something with a beginning and an end. This is reasonable enough, from a Christian perspective all of time is seen in the context of the pilgrimage into eternity. And yet, and yet, the present moment is all we have. To view Lent only in its context is to miss out on what it is as itself. The time we have, the time we are living now, this minute. In his Rule St Benedict writes "the life of a monk ought to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance." That might mean simply that prayer, self restraint and almsgiving, the traditional Lenten disciplines, should form part of the everyday Christian life, but I think it points to something deeper about this holy season.

The image most commonly associated with Lent is that of the desert. The season looks for inspiration towards the experiences of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days after His baptism and that of the children of Israel wandering for 40 years fed only by manna from heaven. These were not random episodes characterised only by the absence of settled civilisation and its amenities. It was not an aloneness in the desert, it was a walking (or a sitting still) with God apart from virtually anything else that was not God. If the greatest commandment and the first is "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole soul and thy whole mind" (Matt 22:37) then these times were periods when there was, or should have been, little in the way of distraction from essaying the attempt to fulfil just that commandment. For us today Lent is a time when we seek so far as we may to recreate for ourselves just such a privileged time together with Him and detached from the settled, secular, world.

In the post Vatican II version of Lent, stripped of some of its accretions and fixed rules there is an attempt to rediscover the spirit of the enterprise. It has led us to another discovery too, the need for some fixed rules. The desert has the character of something external to ourselves, an imposed environment which can be endured or escaped but not both together. When we create our own model of Lent devised with more gentleness towards ourselves than a genuine desert contrives to offer then we experience Lent acutely as a mildly uncomfortable waiting period for Easter. When we accept a model with more of austerity than we would ourselves choose then we come closer to Lent as an end in itself, as a stripping away not of accretions but of unnecessary comforts. We become detached both from the world and its rhythms and our routine self and its rhythms.

There is a contrast between the experiences of our Lord and those of the children of Israel. The latter continually tried to re-negotiate the terms on which they experienced the wilderness. It was no enough to have a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Nor to have the sure guidance of Moses. Nor to have the epiphany at Mount Horeb. They wanted both God and the fleshpots of Egypt. They ended with neither, dying in the wilderness without sight of the Promised Land. Jesus accepted that the desert was desert and God was God. He re-negotiated nothing, He accepted that which, unalterably, was. He did not die in the desert, He entered the Promised Land, He is the promised land.

For us today, then, as we enter fully into Lent, there is the opportunity to embrace the example of those who have pioneered the season for us. Both the example of Sacred Scripture and that of Sacred Tradition. The Lent with genuine fasting, genuine abandonment of the merely mundane, genuine embracing of real crosses for the sake of the Kingdom. Easter is not something present within Lent merely as a promise at the end of the journey. It is present in Lent as closeness to God mediated through Calvary. Only when we become empty to we have the potential to be filled.



Monday 28 January 2013

Brief lives

Cherry blossoming, 

Brief, frail, sun nurtured beauty- 
Lamb rests in shadow

Saturday 12 January 2013

Heart of Mystery haiku

Dear Son of Mary,
Logos of God. Compassion 
Be in me. My heart.

Sunlight's Jewel

Heart of mystery.
Light's slow dawning, colouring.
Dewdrop, in sun, glows.


Eyes wide, unblinking 
Ears pointed. Fangs. Patient cat.
Breeze ripples spring fields.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Bouquet of Haiku

Sunlight glints, shimmers,
Dances. Rippling clean waters-
Black swan arches neck.

Searching and being found

I travelled far
To find one who was within.
I returned. Home.

Hard Rain

Hard cold rain drives down
On sodden earth. Muddy brown.
Sudden frost glints white.


Descent from Heaven
From Cross. Into my heart Lark-like 
arising with you

Devon Coast

Sparkling light points dance.
Sun dappled sea. Red rock juts
Outward. Skua preys 

Hodie Christus natus est

Hodie Salvator 
Apparuit. Night fills with light.
Darkness flees. Hearts sing.

Dreich Day

Drab winter greyness 
Vivid green of grass and hedge
Life pulse throbs beneath.

Donkey Blues (in tribute to Pope Benedict's third volume on Jesus of Nazareth)

No crib to gaze on
Donkeys years pass. Exile ends
With Mary's soft call

December Morning

New day struggles through night
To be born. Gloom retreats but
Slowly. Life awakes

After the Winter Solstice

Shadow unfalls. Night
Retreats. Dawn birdsong rises.
Hopeful chorus. 

World Turns

Darkly Poised. Waiting
Spring bud, dew fresh, longs for light-
Shadows fly. Sunrise 

In a Sufi strain

Divine One, when I 
find thou only then, and finally
Really  will I find I 

River Exe, Christmas Morning

Swan-white glimmers in
Pale winter sun. Swift water.
Slender bridge trembles.

Mystic Rose

Mary, perfections'
Clear mirror. Graceful woman.
God bearer. Lightsome.