Bread of Life

Did You, I wonder, watch Your mother,
As these girls are watching me?
Did You see her select from the shelf
each hand-picked ingredient,
chosen to bring flavour, texture, nutrition?
Did You watch her measure with precision
the right amount and combination,
then pour in the water measured only
by a long-experienced eye
and, with supple fingers,
gather the mix together,
binding with that particular flick of the wrist?
Did You gaze with undiminished fascination,
as so often before, when she began to knead
with those familiar knuckles
that so many times had rapped on the door
when she returned from the market,
having left You securely shut inside
with instructions to open to no one
until You heard her signature knock?
Did you watch as she lifted the kneaded lump
Onto the stone slab, shaped and patted it
before sliding it into the nook above the fire?
As You studied her hands,
Did You glance down at your own
young, smooth palms and shudder
at a fleeting foreboding, as if something
might someday smash through their perfection?
Did You sit and gaze as the dough
rose, settled into its final shape and crisped over,
all the while the aroma tantalising Your nostrils?
Did you watch as, with cloth-gloved hand,
she lifted down the finished loaf,
placed it carefully to cool in the centre of the table?
Did You learn from her the right way
to break and distribute the loaf,
as You hungrily accepted Your share
and allowed its savour to permeate
your body and mind?
And did You someday, many years later,
remembering this day,
reflect on how Your Father had selected
everything the world needed to flavour,
nourish and sustain it,
blended in Your human form,
kneaded together in her womb,
and gently eased into the fire of tribulation
that awaited You here?
Was that the moment when first You knew it –
I am the Bread of Life?

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Recognition

Wide, unblinking eyes
looking but not comprehending;
ears on which words fall fruitless;
contented giggles, untrammelled
by awareness of the future;
lips from which no words have yet escaped.
Will they ever?  Who can tell?
And every now and then a spasm
of anguished sobs from one
who has no way to open up a full heart,
and share its knowledge or dreams or fears.

And I, silently watching, suddenly
realise with delight
it’s You I’m observing.

Restoring default settings

There is a deep cry in my heart,
so deep,
to know You and love You like never before,
a cry so deep I had almost ceased to hear it,
muffled under layers of trivia
till only the keenest senses could detect it,
to know and love You like never before.
And for so long, to peel away each layer
and set free my heart’s cry
has felt too much, too vulnerable,
layer by layer to peel away
all that distracts me from You.
Can I bear to be so exposed
as to love and be loved, know and be known?
And yet I have been slowly dying,
cluttered up with things
which somehow protect me from my Protector
and suffocate me from the One
who is my Life.
And if I peel back these layers one by one
my resolve may falter
before the job is half-done.
But when I knelt
and offered You my life again
You pressed the reset button,
restored the default settings,
the settings that connect me directly to You,
deleting everything I have downloaded
that has overwritten Your programme.
You create in me a clean heart, O God;
You renew a right spirit within me.

Your great ones

The least and the last are your great ones,
and in their company I have found You.
Those who can’t speak,
the ones the world despises,
huddled beneath the wide highway
unnoticed by its hurtling traffic,
yet making their way along
Your narrow road,
allured by Your irresistible love
and small enough to enter by the strait gate.
Help me to shed all I need to shed
until I am small enough
to enter with them.

 

How much is too much?

Chiesa di San Polo (Venice) – VIA CRUCIS II – Jesus carries his cross by Giandomenico Tiepolo

This is a hard question to ask myself,
but ask it I must.  How much am I willing
to lay down for You?  Put back on the shelf
the baubles and toys that make life seem thrilling?

There was once a time – I remember it still –
the way of the cross was a path all-compelling.
How much would I now renounce to Your will,
to be caught by a love all others excelling?

Am I sleep-walking on, at the risk of my soul,
to gain a whole world that must crumble to dust?
Have I taken my eyes off the one worthwhile goal?
This is a hard question, but ask it I must.

Insatiable Grace

Today’s post is inspired by a garden festival we visited, and the pictures below it will show why it gave rise to this train of thought.

Insatiable Grace

How much is enough?
How much is too much?
It seems there is a generosity
that is never satisfied with what it has given,
but must give more, always more.

A few flowers, scattered here and there,
would have given such beauty and joy to this world.
But not content with doing just enough
Your extravagance knew no bounds,
Your profusion no sensible limit.

This is Your heart, revealed in Your creation.
How then, are we so slow to understand
that Your grace is insatiable too,
and far from the nitpicking meanness
we have attributed to You,

as if You were petty as people are,
instead of the large-hearted Father
seeking how many prodigals You can find
to scoop up into Your love, and never satisfied
until there are more, and more, and more.

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