Anyone for tennis? I love it, I’ll come clean A massive fan of Wimbledon, in S double-u nineteen The atmosphere, the strawberries, I even dig the queues Nadal and Radacanu, Murray, Norrie, you choose Hanging out on Henman Hill, especially when it’s hot Delicious thwack of ball on racket, hitting that sweet spot There’s something quite balletic, about how they move on court The beauty and precision of this game give pause for thought Does our love for the perfect backhand, drop shot hit just right Intimate a hunger, for a more elusive delight? Revelling to see that lifted trophy, golden plate Does it somehow stir a deeper urge to celebrate? One apostle Paul compared this life we live, to a race One in which a Loving Presence carves us out a space Hand in hand with Father God, when every game’s been played Am I ready for that crown in heaven, that’ll never spoil or fade?
For BBC local, Premier Christian, and community radio stations
On my phone just lately, among the clicks and pings Something strange was happening, tied to ‘Stranger Things’ If like me you’ve missed it, it’s a Netflix show Which resurrects an eighties hit, and half the world’s gone “Oh… This song is rather good”, and if you’re puzzled still The track that I’m referring to, is ‘Running up that hill’ The work of one elusive Mrs Bush, that’s her, it’s Kate If you don’t know her songs yet, well, it’s ‘better late…’ In a scene from Stranger Things, a teenager called Max Is levitating, eyes all funny, having bad attacks I won’t go into detail; it’s out there, all online Suffice to say that Max is stressed, depressed and far from fine Oppressed by troubling thoughts, and Venca’s foul embrace A bad un, who won’t give Max, a lot of free head space Her friends dig out her favourite song, this striking eighties hit And basically it saves her, that’s the gist, that’s it It gets me thinking, what oppresses us, and me, and then What do we, and I, turn to, to make us whole again? If a piece of music helps life run a smoother course What if I could tap into a deeper, richer Source?
Summer solstice swift approaches, sun attains full height Bathes the northern hemisphere in shimmering heat and light Strange how it suggests connection, with another day Says something, I feel, to fathers, with its bold display Early morning shaft of light the woodland bird awakes So the sleepy dad, of his first child, a first glance takes Feels those stirring pangs of love, a strange paternal glow Early swift cementing bond with one he’ll grow to know Then as summer sun through morning charts its rapid rise So the infant’s spurt of growth puts joy in father’s eyes Noontime, and the swelling sun up to its zenith climbs Parallels paternal love in heady vibrant times Then as blazing afternoon brings warmth to nook and hollow So the child steps further out; a father’s love will follow And, as solstice sun sinks low, its power dimmer grows So a father’s love does mellow; still its beauty shows… Could it be, the father’s heart, and summer sun above Both draw sustenance, being grounded in a greater Love? And, as child, and nature, in that love and sunshine thrive – Opening up to this great Love, would I feel more alive?
For BBC & community radio stations, Premier Christian Radio.
I have some mad ideas, if this is one, then tell me, stop: What if Mr Putin and Her Maj just did a swap? The Kremlin could arrange for HM Queen some toast and tea No better boost for Poot’s ego than Platinum Jubilee.
There’d be far less destruction, less waste and damage done If Poots had been contented with a flypast (way more fun) Surely brings more pleasure, less dismay than threat of nukes To have a neat formation of some Spitfires and Chinooks.
Just think, the commentariat, instead of endless fawning Would just be glad that they had lived to see another morning No braying about duty, service, ‘ne’er puts wrong a foot’ Just celebrating that the world had not yet gone kaput.
Ukrainians would benefit, to have at Kremlin tiller One who favours selfless service, over being a killer Reckon they would celebrate and cheer and scream and clap A Kremlin head who wasn’t out to wipe them from the map.
For the Russians, it would surely be a welcome break From wondering, ’Is our leader mad?’ – to have some tea and cake A chance perhaps to soften, the world’s collective frown And take a cue from Lizzie, with her cheeky smile and crown.
You’re in a firestorm. Heart pummelled, battered. Wrung, shattered. Child, grandchild, loved one, lamb. From your life ‘untimely ripped’. Her bubbling laugh is silenced. Her innocent eyes are shuttered. She’ll not now see the summer fields of promise. While suited men with stony looks, sign and seal the status quo. And feign condolence, sit on hands, and cling to power with wolfish bent. The night is long, the way is hard – yet promise rests Of wrapped up hearts, and dried up tears, the splintered vase restored. While hearts of stone will yet be shattered. Beaten, broken, brought to book.
Whatever could have happened, to Putin’s fluffy cat? You know the kind, that in a Bond film villain’s lap is sat That’s white and slightly sinister, which you’d imagine that If re-embodied human, would wear a posh cravat.
Did it find while lolling there, hand running through its fur That with the plans of Vladimir, it could no way concur Did it feel, on white cats everywhere they’d be a slur Which could some consequences, far from cat-friendly, incur?
In its ice-cool moggy heart, and in its brain feline Did it sense this Kremlin kid was badly out of line For a nicer Bond-ish villain did our friend now pine In point of fact, did Putin’s fluffy cat just flat resign?
I find myself asking, what does it mean? The ritual celebration of this strange thing unseen Mysterious event, in history shrouded Somehow in popular imagination now clouded Those beatific images, glowing and pure Three painted crosses, pristine grave, I’m not sure Why, for such a frail thing, Christians give thanks In a world marred by guns, and brutality, and tanks What good’s ‘resurrection’ in the grime and the mud In a bomb-blighted landscape, killing fields of blood Till we remember that Jesus, before the faint-dawning light Fell foul as well of raw political might He too was cornered and ground down and crushed His goodness they tried hard to drown out and hush And yet Easter morning made it clear, made it plain A slow burning power that couldn’t be contained That burst every barrier, broke through every wall Filled hearts with joy and made timid men tall And I trust that in war zones, and each human heart This power still brings healing, and hope, a new start
Broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds & Premier Christian Radio
Lent is with us now, but something else distracts and occupies Our hearts and minds, another land, where trauma bites, a small child cries An aerial bombardment, and sharp explosions fill the night A people underground, too scared to brave the grey of morning light While supermarket shelves see vital foodstuffs dwindle, fade away And desperate people seek enough to make it through another day A place of churches, homes and farms and factories, I little knew Its history till now, a place the world’s concern is pointed to A land of plains and golden spires and crosses carries now the scar Of brutal conflict, while a world looks on in horror from afar, But now the Lenten season makes me stop and wait and slow and pause And think, is any simmering conflict down to me, am I the cause? It urges me to strip back, change tack, take my cross, the desert way Examine what is flawed or wrong in what I think and do and say And take a cue from those whose faith sustains them in their hour of need And let it be for me a flame of hope, of courage fresh, a seed.
What do we make of, well yeah, Valentines, the day of red hearts, flowers and chocolate and wine It doesn’t look so fluffy and sweet and divine, when you think of the ruthless pursuit, of-the-bottom-line How did a day praising love and connection, come to be such a brash profit-driven confection? How did a theme of such beauty and soul, in a money-ruled world occupy such a role? See how the environment’s also given birth, to a reckoning with how we now impact the earth It costs a great deal both to grow and to ship, flowers that next day may end up on a tip It’s not just the day’s not to everyone’s taste; with the cards and the packaging, there’s a whole lot of waste; We’re split how we view Valentines, it’s a mix, for some the whole day can’t be over too quick Is it cuddles and kisses and breakfast in bed? For others the day evokes nothing but dread But how might it be if we looked a bit deeper, I hazard there’s truth out there, though it’s a ‘sleeper’ It’s ironic, to celebrate love secret, concealed – when the best love of all, that was hidden – ‘s now revealed A love we might run from, and hide and ignore, a love that invites, and ignites, that’s a door Through which any one of us can step through and find, a comfort enfolding, embracing and kind And so on a day that can be hit or miss, whether you love it or loathe it, it’s worth hearing this: There’s a love that like hawk on the wing reaches far – that seeks out and can save you, whoever you are.
For BBC local radio & other interested stations. Image by rzierik at Pixabay