Olympics & Justice

This radiant contest, this sparkling thing:

The Olympics, a spectacle to make the heart sing

Gathering of rare-gifted sporting elite

The strong and the skilled, the honed and the fleet;

And yet a pandemic asks us to stop

Revise our obsession with those at the top

Take a step back, embrace a collective

Overdue appraisal, a change of perspective;

Just a suggestion, a novel idea

For you now, immersed in the Olympics this year:

As you marvel at those at their physical peak

Can you also make space in your heart – for the weak?

For those indisposed and with no chance to shine

On such a big stage, no medal to mine;

As you praise the perfected, think too of the poor

Remember the values the Olympics stand for;

Excellence, friendship, equality, respect

Are just a selection of good ones, and yet

Why stop with those, why not increase

Our struggle for justice, our wrestling for peace;

Running for goodness, a deep dive for truth

Not minding if I look unhinged or uncouth

And let’s not go solo, into this fight

Team up and dream up, keep hope in sight

And when you are tempted to drop off the pace

Look up and be helped by that rare thing – called grace.

Broadcast on BBC Radio Solent & Premier Christian Radio

Image by Thomas Wolter at Pixabay.

Audio:

A more beautiful game?

I won’t soon forget, being with a crowd

In a pub, watching England, it was really quite loud

I’m no diehard fan, but it was difficult to frown

On so many jumping for joy up and down

They whooped and they shouted, then did so some more

I was shocked that more beer wasn’t knocked on the floor

It’s a remarkable thing, this national obsession

A lightning rod for so much delight – and aggression

So much devotion for these heroes adored

So much emotion when one of them’s scored

It’s an art, a kind of worship, it’s been called a religion

Overstatement? – you think so, but that’s for the pigeons

There’s simply nothing else that arouses such passion

I used to think there was, but that view’s out of fashion;

But the question that I really want to ask here today

Is where do we turn, when it’s all gone away

This grappling with overblown hope, or despair

What do we do when it’s no longer there?

Here’s a little insight, a hunch, just a feeling:

I’m not sure that football’s got a high enough ceiling

To let the human spirit fully flourish and soar

I suspect that we’ll always well, want something more

Is there a bigger purpose, where we’re called to take part

A more ‘beautiful game’, a kind of ‘life work of art’ 

When the stadiums clear and the shouts fade away

Is there something that can help you in the mere day to day?

There’s a beautiful word, do you know it, called ‘grace’

It’s from God, it’s for each of us, it can light up a face

And I hold out the hope that every person, each nation

Is invited, one day, to a bigger celebration.

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Madagascar crisis

What’s the worst thing going on in the world right now? A glance at the paper might suggest something like, you can’t fly to your chosen holiday destination anymore. Disappointing, yes. A disaster? No.

Do we stop and think enough about situations of real need in the world? I heard from a charity that thousands of people in southern Madagascar are on the brink of famine. Almost nothing to eat – leaves, termites, tamarind and clay. People are dying. It’s the first I’d heard of it! Almost unreported – an invisible tragedy.

            And something else: it’s the result of four years of drought, driven by higher temperatures and climate change. Produced in no small part by our western consumer lifestyles. Do you see the disconnect? While we worry about where we can or can’t fly, there are people worrying about where they’ll find their next meal.

So what would Jesus say? He cared deeply about people in need, including the hungry. And he calls us to care too.  So let’s step up and stand out. Not turn away, but care, pray, help – and give. If we don’t – who will?

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

Father’s Day poem

Today’s Father’s Day, that day of the year

When we celebrate dads, some far and some near

For some, ‘father’ thoughts are both happy and bright

Others not so much, may be things to put right

Some things you can’t – so you learn how to cope

But precious or painful, on this day there’s hope

We can all find those father qualities we crave

Strong, aspirational, loving and brave

Caring, and helps you with loads of things like

The little stuff, the shoe laces, riding a bike

And adult equivalents, you know what I mean

Cos there’s nothing ambivalent about dads who are keen

Who encourage, and praise, and champion, and hold

Who do what they say, who are daring and bold

And whether, for you, ‘dad’ means brilliant or bad

We can all seek out folks who are like a good dad…

And what if there’s a Father with a love that’s so deep

He can love you, when push comes to shove, in his sleep

It’s the Almighty, him upstairs that I’m talking about

He’s a top pop for sure, and of that there’s no doubt

It might sound far-fetched, a bit bonkers, bizarre

That such love exists that takes you as you are

But I’m reliably informed it’s no quick passing fad

We can have every confidence – in our heavenly dad.

As played on BBC Radio Leeds, and BBC Solent – accompanied by live phone interview with my Dad!

Test of truth

A topical poem

Lately we’ve seen on the box, in the news
A few individuals get knocks – can’t excuse
Some behaviour that’s proved underhand and uncouth
That’s played fast and loose – sometimes planned – with the truth
It’s not exactly news to say short term gain
Produces, like night follows day, long term pain
Things that get covered up for weeks, months or years
Have an unfortunate habit of ending in tears;
So what is the antidote to this kind of thing
How can we help life not stall but, well, sing?
A tip to ensure we don’t go ‘on the blink’
Is to care a bit less about what people think
In the right way, I mean – it avoids so much stress
When you don’t get fixated on chasing ‘success’
The best way to chart a steady course, not go bust
Is surely our God up in heaven to trust
Counting on the Father to make our paths straight
Is a winning approach you can’t too highly rate
Choosing the route that’s not easy but right
Leads to broad happy places of life, peace and light

Image by PDPics from Pixabay

Pentecost poem

In our rational world any talk now of God
Is for heated debate a lightning rod
We think we’re sophisticated, clever and wise
So any God-talk – we easily despise
Some of us embark on a spiritual search
Meditation, chakra (not often church);
What if we altered our approach to this art
A little less intellect, a little more heart…
What if my defences I could surrender
A chance I might find a God wild and tender?
What if I admit, on my own life is sour
Might I then savour some spiritual power?
Being too cerebral, life can be pale
Let’s open up, get some wind in these sails
I’m tired of pursuing a shadowy course
God let me feel – your hurricane force
Don’t let me shrink back, retreat or retire
I want now to taste some spiritual fire
I let go of my stuff God, I’m up for the ride
I wanna be shaken and stirred, purified
Not just tread water the rest of my days
Hold me and mould me God, set me ablaze

Image by Hier und jetzt endet leider meine Reise auf Pixabay aber from Pixabay

Audio:

Feeling for India

I’m struggling a little, I’ll say it, be blunt
About what’s happening in India, where they’re bearing the brunt
The weight of the suffering, we see it, we know
That they’re stuck, they can’t breathe, they’ve got nowhere to go
‘I can’t breathe’, now if you recall that’s a phrase
That we heard quite a lot, dating back to last May
George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, it was only last year
That nine minute video got us hooked – now we’re here
And I know that it’s different, but there’s something the same
It’s not about feeling bad, finding someone to blame
It’s about trying to connect with the pain of another
Imagining it, feeling it, for my sister, my brother
Cos we’re one global family, and if we’ve got heart and soul
Then if part of the body hurts, we feel it, the whole
So let’s not wait for one icon, one publicised case
When we see the pain etched on a suffering face
And let’s not forget we have Asian friends here
Let’s feel for their anguish, connect to their fear
You know, when it comes to relating to pain
That our God’s got it down – sends the sunshine and rain
On the good and the bad, and when a small sparrow falls
He notices and cares, and he doesn’t have walls
Between people or nations, more ‘worthy’ or less
In his eyes we’ve all got great worth, and I confess
That the change that I most want to notice and see
Is for us to follow his example – that’s you and that’s me

Image from REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Post Easter poem

It’s not very long (unless I’ve got this wrong)
Since Easter, that marks resurrection
Which (let’s not be blind) to the scientific mind
As a theory, seems far from perfection
To hold in your head someone rose from the dead
Stretches credulity at best
Some are inclined to think we should find
Ways to put this idea to the test.
The problem right here, to be perfectly clear
Is it’s not something easily repeated
But to turn round and say that it’s bunkum, go away
Is no way for the thing to be treated
For a moment just think (it might make you blink)
We once thought (cos we’re standing still)
The idea this place, is now barrelling through space
Would have made the average punter quite ill
But when someone suggested (it was sorely contested)
That we hurtle full pelt round the sun
This novel solution sparked a revolution
In our views (that must have been fun).
In a similar way, I ask in our day
When the notion of God is derided
And pushed to the brink, maybe time to rethink
Some ideas that we long ago decided
I don’t mean to plod, but just think, if God
Like the sun is what life goes around
Then the thing that seems weird, that some bloke with a beard
Came to life, might just get off the ground.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Audio:

Easter weekend poems

Good Friday

Good Friday: its meaning has tended to fade
In our world been forsaken, neglected, mislaid
We have some inkling of Jesus, he died
For ‘the faithful’, their faith now a fast ebbing tide
What if we found though, and fresh understood
That Jesus, like none else, was radiant and good
That somehow he soaked up our rage, sin and pain
To lead us to God; could it move us again?

Holy Saturday

Sometimes in life we must stay still and wait
Unsure what’s coming, we sit, ruminate
Life can then feel like a prison, a tomb
For purpose and pleasure, we find little room
Where do we turn when our comfort is gone
How do we cope, when of hope there is none
Like a faint gleam when we’re low and forlorn
We can be sure, swift approaches the dawn

Easter Sunday

Resurrection remains an intriguing idea
In popular culture, its resonance clear
The records are tantalising, strange and oblique
In tracing a thing so surprising, unique
Gospel accounts hint and beckon, invite
To see what’s beyond that which lies in plain sight
The bold thrilling promise remains: if we choose
To connect to this life, it both fills and renews

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

Audio:

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

Audio: