Lent longings

What I wonder, here’s the question, will we find in that word ‘Lent’
Is it old and worn and tattered now, and is its meaning spent?
What I wonder can we plunder from this practice, ancient, strange
Is there still treasure in age of leisure, are its riches out of range?
Give up chocolate, fags, the booze, we harbour notions slightly quaint
Do it at all? We’re free to choose, but it still has a pull, though faint
In our times, these troubled climes, perhaps a chance to heed the call
Because it’s not just old, gone cold, but it’s fierce, demands our all…
Nowadays you might think “Oh, ok, I’ll give up something sweet”
Where brave souls once encountered thirst, and worse, like desert heat
Either way the call of Lent still beckons, reckons with each heart
Asking, will I make space, for grace, face my fears, take part
Maybe in that place I’ll find something wondrous waits for me
A sight, a sound, and cords unbound, fresh living, wild and free.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Lockdown Love (short version)

This Valentines, we’re all locked down – that’s guaranteed to make love frown
Steals its thunder, pushes it under, makes it blunder, takes its crown
And instead of a love-heart and flowers and take your loved one out
You’ll be lucky if your Beth or Bart just showers n doesn’t pout
If he just cooks, or she just books a takeaway tonight
At least content to look the part – not run for it in fright.

Love’s important, makes the world go round, and we want to express
It kinda neatly, not too sweetly, and keep calm, you know, not stress
But we still worry, frown and fret, and get all tense and anxious, yet
If we could just relax a bit, that’d be by far a better bet.

Love’s intense, can be immense, gets you-off the fence, spare no expense
You feel you’re flying, I’m not lying, gets you swooning, laughing, crying
You’ll scale a wall, feel ten feet tall, and ask “It’s late, can I still call?”
And agonise, fall down then rise – and then forget about it all.

I believe it – take or leave it – that the world vibrates with love
It’s all around, and it abounds, it’s deep within, without, above
As I learn to let it burn down in my heart and in my veins
I find I’m falling more in love with its melodious strains
This love divine, I let it shine in me, it fills and it redeems
Has power to transform human love, so  – with glory – it gleams.    

For BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Bradford & other stations…

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

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Lockdown Love

February fourteenth, Valentines, red hearts, romance – you know the signs
The ads and fads (a lot quite bad), the schmaltz and cheesy lines
They say that love is blind, it’s in the heart and in the mind
But every February we find, the usual tropes revert to kind
We’ll take any chance to shine – with just a sweet romantic line…

This year we’re all locked down – that’s guaranteed to make love frown
Steals its thunder, pushes it under, makes it blunder, takes its crown
And instead of a love-heart and flowers and take your loved one out
You’ll be lucky if your Beth or Bart just showers n doesn’t pout
If one just cooks, or the other books a fancy takeaway tonight
At least content to look the part – not run for it in fright.

The day of love, when push comes to shove, is actually always fraught
Because we’re human, we get in a stew man, and it’s easy to get caught
In all the pressure, expectation, and some bad sleep deprivation
In houses up and down the land, and all across the nation
Love’s important, makes the world go round, and we want to express
It kinda neatly, not too sweetly, and keep calm, you know, not stress
But we still worry, frown and fret, and get all tense and anxious, yet
If we could just relax a bit, that’d be by far a better bet.

This is me now, don’t you see now, I’m just talkin’ as one fella
I’m no Valentine-o fanboy, I’m no ‘day of romance’ seller
If I was I’d leave now cos I’ve no ambition to be toast
I’ll just say hey, you know, we all want to be loved by someone most
It’s so intense, you know, immense, gets you-off the fence, spare no expense
You feel you’re flying, I’m not lying, gets you swooning, laughing, crying
You’ll scale a wall, feel ten feet tall, and ask “It’s late, can I still call?”
And agonise, fall down then rise – and then forget about it all.

What makes this one day special is the secrecy of course
To be the admirer of Luke or Lyra, speak in code, you know, like morse
And there’s something we adore, we want it more, the mystery
Of wondering ‘who loves me?’; I don’t mean brotherly or sisterly
When you send a card, and be a love bard, you get a magic thrill, a shiver
Like running down a bank and jumping starkers in a river
And if you find you’ve got that kind of place in someone’s heart
There ain’t no poet that can quite express the feeling, there’s no art. 

(pause).
But the thing that most excites me, daily smites me, makes me quiver
Is to think these tributaries of love flow to a bigger river
The mystery of love at Valentines – it leads us on
And shows us something deep about the heart of things, no con
I believe it – take or leave it – that the world vibrates with love
It’s all around, and it abounds, it’s deep within, without, above
As I learn to let it burn down in my heart and in my veins
I find I’m falling more in love with its melodious strains
This love divine, I let it shine in me, it fills and it redeems
Has power to transform human love, so  – with glory – it gleams.    

For BBC Radio Leeds & other stations…

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

Audio:

Audio

Benediction prayer poem

Father God, you see and hold our past, our present, and our future.
We lay them now at your feet.

We bring to you our past… that bittersweet mix.
Memories to hold, though some leave us cold.
Of all we have tasted, nothing is wasted, 
The good, let us keep; the rest, let it sleep.
What didn’t go to plan, like tracks in the sand,
As tide fills the bay, may it be washed away.

We bring to you our present…
The psalmist longed to dwell where you dwell,
Father we do as well.
We bring you our brokenness, our pain, our fragility
Confess that our hope does not depend on our ability,
As secret spring sap starts to vivify the tree
May your Holy Spirit now fill and flow in me,
Our cold and damaged parts and those afflicted by life’s storms,
Like Narnian statues, be revived! – by Aslan’s breath that warms.

Father we bring to you our future… the way that lies ahead,
Each smooth or rocky road, every path that we may tread,
Like that ancient star of Bethlehem, your light before us gleams
The place of desert drought you make a place of streams,
In you we find our faintness fades, on wings like eagles we rise
Fresh fortified for joy – and trial – that now before us lies. 

For BBC Local Radio Sunday Service, 24th January 2021

Audio

Image by Himsan from Pixabay

New Year poems

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve, a time to cast
Reflective eye on year that’s past
Though it has been hard in part
Yet it takes no special art
To see jewels in the dark
Lowly lamps that left their mark
Chief, a pause in headlong rush
A chance to seek, in trauma’s hush
May we to ourselves be kind
And now Spirit-treasure find.

In one sense strange to face New Year
In depth of winter, chill and drear
Yet what gems may yet appear
In this cold moment’s dark nadir
Lean not hard on frail will power
Seek now deeper in this hour
As a troubled year now pales
Spirit-wind, come fill my sails.

Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

Christmas poems

Marvel, mystery, Christmas Eve
Bustling mother, dad on leave
Lamplight flicker, thickening gloom
Magic in a heart finds room
Wondering eyes on chimney flue
Mince pie, brandy, carrot too
Trusting, in the deep of night
Morning will bring gifts so bright…

Bustle, rustle, gifts unwrapped
Surprise, delight when fitting, apt
Turkey trimmings, family feast
Each one welcome, great to least
Queen, then stroll, late afternoon
Sofa, sun has sunk so soon
Quick it passes, yet foretells
A greater Feast, celestial bells.

Image by Mylene2401 at Pixabay.com

It’s Difficult this Christmas

It’s difficult this Christmas
Its meaning still to see,
Wondering what kind of end
Of year this one will be.

It’s harder now, when loved ones
We cannot so easily meet,
To trust the deeper Love –
It seems this year a tougher feat.

It’s harder when our wider culture
Yearly holds less dear
The startling news, that in a baby
God himself drew near.

To see beyond the stress –
And press of gaudy TV show,
Hard for the world to see
When it so little wants to know.

Not easy either in the dark
The solitude and space
Of my own heart, to catch a glimpse
Of that shy agent, grace.

Yet even when uncertainty
And fear close in like night
The Christ-child who in secret came
Still sheds abroad his light.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Audio:

Christmas for sceptics

There’s a funny old thing about Christmas,
For many, it’s lost all its clout,
That seems a great pity so in this little ditty
I’ll ask, what’s that all about?

Lots of folk think it’s all superstition
Fairy tale, not science, just belief
Of all I could say, the fact we ALL live by faith
And not certainty is maybe the chief.

Although we are often to it more-or-less blind
We’re all living in some big story
A world view, big picture, I hope you won’t mind
Me saying that (just think Jackanory).

And when we consider the nature of things
It seems that when push comes to shove
At the heart of it all there’s either random blind chance
Or it’s rooted in the personal – and love.

From that reasonable base it’s no whopping sensation
To entertain the notion of God
Still mysterious though, so I need revelation
To be an enlightened smart bod.

That’s what happened at Christmas, the Love in all things
Came to show itself, the best way it could
Not by diktat, decree, but becoming, well human
Right amongst us, down here in the hood.

Not some fringe idea for the deluded or mad
Good news is what Christmas is about
It’s the best, a revelation of ultimate Love
From the rooftops I want it to shout!

Image by Andreas Böhm from Pixabay

Hand upon the Window

Your hand upon the window, and my hand mirrors yours,
In the midst of this year’s tragedy
This image gives us pause.

Your hand upon the window,
We saw but could not touch,
I’m not sure anything could quite prepare us all for such…

Such sadness and confusion,
The longing and the pain,
Fearful whether we could ever hug or touch again.

My strong desire to hold you
The rules would not allow,
Our bodies, such a precious gift
Are dangerous for now.

Hope is slowly taking shape,
The promise that next year
We can once more live and breathe
More freely, without fear.

Like distant glowing train lights,
A vaccine hope that then
We’ll once more have the chance to hold
Each other close again.

And so now, facing you
I to the window press my hand
And hope that of your pain I may
A small part understand.

And as that greater Love
In secret, close to us once drew
I pray you’ll know this love
Now drawing closer still to you.  

For BBC Radio Leeds & other stations.

Image by tatlin from Pixabay

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