Australian summer

Oh how the wintry winds blow

Invading our summer plans

Telling us things we’d rather not know

They confuse us in the morning

As we pick and choose our wear

A collared shirt and jeans?

And with a knowing glance

They withdraw their tendrils

Snaking them to the country

Until humidity’s embrace

Drenches our T shirts

Stinks up our arm pits

Divides marriages

With cries of “BO!”

They laugh hahahaha

At these Australians’ cruel fates

Knowing they would much rather

Straight shots of sunlight

Dry roasting heat

A trip to Bondi

And a BBQ chicken to eat

A Donkey in a Manger

The season of Christmas

Interrupts us in our everyday

Pausing our routines

Disrupting our rituals

Breaking our habits

For what we do not know

For what we scarcely hope

And for whom we dare not think

As we remember that 2000 years ago

It was not kings or adoring crowds

That greeted this baby lying there

Huddled around his manger bed

His parents consoling his cries

Without fanfare or adulation

But three wisemen

Their myrrh and frankincense

A few shepherds

A horse and some sheep

A donkey too who couldn’t even sleep

For as the baby’s cries drowned out

Even hens’ clucks and lambs’ bleats

The barn door failed to muffle the sound

And much less the cold draft

That creaked and strained its joints

As that baby tossed and turned

To mom and dad’s delight

And still concern

The donkey is oblivious

To the baby’s invitation

His ears are full of groans

His back is so sore

From a country’s baggage

His eyes droop and his mind empties

Wondering when he will next shut them

Counting down to the next sunrise

To the baby’s cries

And the parent’s surprise

For the baby’s cries are for him

That lonely donkey

Huddled in the corner to watch

And for every beast of burden

They invite him to cast his bags

Off those weary worn shoulders

To gallop across plains

To jump over boulders

And be free

Free to join those stallions by the sea

Free to roam wherever he may be

The baby cries for that girl

Selling matches on Christmas Eve

Striking them to stay warm beneath

Someone else’s festive wreath

Under the drifting snow

Under human cruelty

Her time ticking away

With the clock

As midnight approaches slowly

The baby cries for that orphan

Longing to share his ham

With a sir or a madame

Even some turkey with a donkey

Would be better than sitting by

The fireplace staring at

The sky and wondering why

The baby cries for you and for me

The baby’s crying still

When we remember that 2000 years ago

Heaven’s time met earth

Kissing it and its inhabitants

Transporting transcendence

Into our very immanence

Will we be lifted up, up and away

Above our homes and far away

To a place of hope

A hope out of this cycle

A hope of the new

The new year and the new me

The new you and the new view

Of the world and all in it

Or will we rub our eyes

Under those Christmas lights

Scarcely able to believe such lies

Stuffed with pudding and tea

Wondering when that rest will come

When we can sleep deeply?

Heralds of what’s to come

I woke up

Felt the room

Or better yet

The room felt me

Amidst coos and caws

Above our roofs

Stillness pervaded

In my room

Dust trickled

Rays of light

Children played

And the air heralded

What was and is

And is to come

It was warm

Not a midsummer night’s dream

Nor a winter’s frosty morn

But it was a different dawn

The sun embraced me

Rather than I it

Creation sang

And I was silent

I did not have to strip myself

Cooling off this clammy skin

Nor cover up

The shame beneath and within

Today’s clothes

Heralded what was

And is and is to come

Green, brown, and orange

The mess of the sidewalk

Whispered by trees

And under gentle breezes

Cherry blossoms danced

To the tune of spring

Dandelions and daffodils

Stand at attention

The sun also rises

A rolling call

Today the risen sons will come

Dogs bark their sergeant’s orders

Rather than pay attention

The pigeons nearby soar

Into the skies merging

Heaven and earth

And perch still on the telephone poles

The boy next door skips

Like a calf coming out

Of its stalls

When’s the parade mommy?

Where’s the king?

And his donkey?

A bewildered stare flashes

Silly boy she says

It’s all in the past

Under a garage door

An old man snores

His car dented unprepared

His wrench to the floor it falls

These old bones

Creak and groan

Struggling out of bed

It moans and moans

And moans some more

Still covered in sores

We are locked down

Locked out

Not all ready

Nor expectant it seems

Spring will have to go longer

Winter will come once more

More than many hoped

Eternity breaks in

Rather than jolt us up and out

Like a rude alarm

On a Saturday morn

Spring reminds us

The battle’s over

The war’s won

Resurrection’s done

A herald of what was and is and is to come

So arise sleeper

Wake up and rub

Those weary eyes

And see the sun who shines

Upon this very day

A Doxology of the Knowing God

O’God I heard Berkeley once say

Esse est percipi

To be is to be perceived

Above us an abstract concept seems

Deep down every hearts’ dreams

To know and be known

That is what we wish

To be remembered not forgotten

To reside not be lost

And neither to be missed

In the vicissitudes of time

In the abysses of the sea

In the shadows of the mind

You are still yet with me

You watch our going out

And you see our coming in

Form us in our innermost

We go forth without boast

Bodies of ashes

To ashes we return

Dust to dust

Foxes have holes

And birds have nests

Lilies dance in fields

But humans forget

Your favor and yields

Remember us Lord

We are fickle and we forget

Yet not one of our hairs fall

To the ground

Without you ever being around

Remember us and make us

Like the birds of the air

Like the lilies of the field

Let us know in your son

The grace of knowing you

That rest is won

Give us silence

Obedience and joy

And empty us of our ploy

Though a tree falls

In the woods

No one’s around

It resounds loudly

Because you are its ground

Ground of being

Omniscient one

We ask this in your son

Your kingdom come

Your will be done

Letters from Lockdown: Today I Saw A Sunset

The heavens declare the glory of God

And day to day pours forth knowledge

What was today Lord

That your poured out your paints

And dipped it in palettes

Orange white blue

Purple navy

Pinks and hues

What did you want us to know

Where did you want us to go

The clouds are your messengers

The winds your vessels

And I your child

Sitting here with head nestled

I tried to chase the sun

But darkness fell

And so did the fun

It was too quick Lord

And I too frail

I’m a gust of wind

A breath of air

I stand no more

But your clouds declare

The Sun will rise

And your mercies anew

And tomorrow will be

Fresh with dew

Communion Sundays At Captivate Presbyterian

On a Sunday in North Ryde

I sat on a makeshift pew

Wooden benches these days

Were far between and few

I had come to hear Jesus preached

And remember what he had to teach

Yet some things are better shown than told

Especially in matters ancient and old

As I sat there remembering

That it happened once, in a December month

That God met a donkey, 3 men and a sheep

And condescended to be born

In a barn and in a heap

I thought back to my friends

And our conversations of late

Wondering why it was

That I had been so irate

That divine and mundane

Could scarcely be contained

Unwilling to share

And yet unwilling to part

We live between two worlds

Dreams of dreams

Fairytales and lores

We yearn for a lost time

That was once of our yores

Our memories are foggy

Our souls complacent

And yet in the darkness

There is remembrance in communion

Grace in memory

A welcome mystery

Bread and wine

Simple made divine

A welcome to the unwelcome

A Word to us made flesh

Mercy and grace

Meets a guilty race

Broken body and spilt blood

Sings atonement and redemption

And more of resurrection

Remembrance leads to worship

As we remember

He remembered us

He heard our cries

Delivered us from slavery

And led us with fearful bravery

Now in communion

We travel to a land before time

The presence of the eternal

The infinite in the finite

The limit of the temporal

The ineffable made effable

The transcendent in the immanent

And as Calvin would say

God’s presence in the present

An Ode To Mom On Her Birthday

Mom you’re 55 now

You’re not getting younger

I will list your accomplishments

Without sounding like a funeral parlor

First you bore me for under a year

And I popped out with a pow

I had a big furry head

But no monkey’s tail in my stead

If that wasn’t exciting enough

You had me for another 28

And Debbie for 26

Without her being second rate

You’ve had Dad even longer

33 years! Who can fathom

Living with such Chinese boredom

Mom could you have hoped

That at 22 you’d live with such dopes?

The years have flown by

And still you stood nigh

A tower of refuge

A stronghold of safety

Even for friends

And not just family

Still Mom I thank God

For each of those years and naught

All of them well spent

And all of them planned

By the one who holds you in his hand

I thank you mom for holding me to sleep

Your own tears drowning my stomach’s cries

I thank you mom for a shirt that’s dry

The brain that’s big and the heart that’s deep

I thank you mom for words and stories

Even Goosebumps and Blyton’s lorries

I stayed up each night to read your books

And didn’t even give the darkness second looks

I thank you mom for the library excursions

And a schooling that went beyond convention

But most of all I thank you mom

For pointing me back when my way was lost

Not to a warm house safe from frost

Nor to your warm arms

Though warm they were

But to my creator

The God who stirs

And brings home even sons of curs

This prodigal son found his home

In the arms of the shepherd his own

You’re the Monica to my Augustine

The Eunice to my Timothy

Like many godly men I know

You’re the mom that’s made me so

The Australian Sun

In many cultures

In many times and places

The sun is an object of worship

To many peoples and many races

The emperor is the descendant

His father the sun

But here in Australia

There is only one

The individual I

And the son of no sun

A morning stroll

Under Sydney’s sunny skies

Along Burwood’s shopping atoll

I saw just an example of this

Red ran around my eyes

Brown sizzling skin

A man had gone for a run

Banana boat clearly in the bin

This jiggling sunburnt ham

Was naked and exposed

To the sun and to the sons

Who could not find their eyes’ repose

But where was he running to?

He glided along

His jiggle strong

As his skin shook its fist

Against wrinkles

Against time

Against death

Against the sun

Sometimes it’s hard to tell

Has it been so long

Since I met the morning

Instead of it meeting me

Sometimes it’s hard to tell

Has it been so long

That clouds were white dreams

Instead of leering faces pressing

On the earth’s window pane

Sometimes it’s hard to tell

Has it been so long

That the Word kindled flames

Instead of a gray wilted ashtray

Sometimes it’s hard to tell

Sometimes I think the trees

Have an answer for me

As leaves rustle and whisper

‘Sometimes it’s hard to tell’.