Saturday 19 November 2011

It's really exciting to have just published some poems with The Five! Our new book, Five Squared, is available at £12.50 from It's called Five Squared because it has 5 x 5 poems, each of us has contributed five.

Here's one of mine as a taster, hope you like it!

A rose garden

So I planted the garden for you.

To guard it, a hedge of sweet myrtle,

Within it, lily of the valley, rue and rose

To keep me scented of you till you come.

All through it of course there must flow

A stream of limpid water,

Running and singing and shining

From a broken jar of clay.

And come at last you do – but why must you

Ignore my gate, break down my hedge

And trample my flowers?

Why could you not linger

on the lawn I laid for you,

but must go straight ahead

(my hedge again!), leaving only

an irresistible scent, and the

faint echo of a call?

So I followed in your steps, that led

After many days to a high rugged hill

And a torrent that thundered

With the sound of many waters.

Far away and small my shattered garden.

It seemed you had a wider field to walk,

Immersing me into a deeper stream.

And at the summit, you at last,

Plainly waiting for me. “Lie down here.

Gaze into heaven till it becomes a sea,

Until the tall trees reach down as roots into the deep

And the eagles swim an abyss of light

And you too play in love’s empyrean.”

So I awoke – and you were not there.

Only the footsteps leading down.

Grumbling and longing I follow –

Don’t you know how hard you make it?

Down into a valley and a dour city

And a pressing, depressing crowd.

And is it true that here at last I will find you

Among the disappointed and averted faces

And the wandering uncertain steps

And the least of these my brethren?

And your long unfathomable look for which I long

Must be looked out of my own shrinking eyes?

Sunday 13 November 2011

Arrogant? Moi?

Ouch! It was a bit of a downer to read in The Times recently that Rowan Atkinson thinks vicars are arrogant, smug and conceited. That's Rowan the comedian of course, not Rowan the Archbishop – it would be even worse if it were our own boss who thought so! I wonder what could have made Mr Bean say such things…

Of course there is a priestly desire to pontificate which doesn't always come across well. Sometimes on Thought for the Day a well-meaning vicar feels the urge to lecture us about the latest headlines, oblivious of the political, social and economic experts on the show who know far more about it than he does. "Why doesn't he get off his soap box and tell me about Jesus?" I find myself rebuking the radio. "That's what I need to get me through the day!"

Arrogance is particularly unwelcome in the church because we are supposed to favour humility. It's because of Jesus that Christians think humility is so important. At Christmas Jesus humbled himself. He gave up His glory to become a human being, to seek for us, serve us and save us. He even went to the cross to bear our sins. Just as he humbled himself for us, we have to humble ourselves to receive him. "Lord, I have let you down. I've failed to live how you wanted me to. I've hurt others. I need you. Please come into my life and help me change…" Arrogance is actually bad for you. It stops you learning new things – "I know it all already." It shuts out others – "Who needs them?" It's anti love – "It’s my life and I'll live it my way!"

And humility is not what you think. It doesn't mean crawling, being bland, pretending to be useless when you're not, or denying your worth as a human being. Look at Jesus – he asserted who he was as the Son of God, threw out money changers, confronted authority. Life with him was an adventure! Gentle Jesus, meek and mild? As if! Humility really means being ready to admit when you are wrong, open to others and willing to serve them.

Just like Jesus when he came in humility for us. He came at Christmas – to seek you, serve you and save you. This Christmas could be the start of an amazing adventure if you will ask him in. In the meantime you'll just have to make up your own mind about those arrogant vicars…