A Psalm: The Lockdown of Covid

Psalm 137 Covid Version:

In the lockdown of Covid,

Indoors we stayed, and wept,

When we remembered friends, family, sanity and jobs.

In the churches we silenced our tongues, and muzzled our faces,

For the Government required of us fearful obeisance to the gods of bureaucratic scientism & the spin of half-truths.

Why should we so meekly comply and not sing the LORD’s song in this ‘new normal’?

If I forget you, O Christ, let me throw away my own heart upon the ash heap;

If I forget you O Church, cast me upon the rocks of ruin,

Let not my highest joy in Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be subordinated to whimsical diktat of conflicting authoritarian pronouncements.

Remember LORD, in previous actual plagues of old

Twas the Church that fought like lions,

And preserved the communities and society.

O Covid, destroyer of civilisations, doomed to be destroyed,

May the LORD repay those whose courage failed.

May the LORD repay those whose courage roared.

Let not the future prove to be the rocks upon which we have dashed our little ones.

Pages: 1 2

Every four days it kills more than the virus

A great video by the guys at Speak Life  by Glen Scrivener (who has featured on this blog before here and here).  The video is called ‘Numbers’ but my title is taken from a line later in the poem that should cause us to wonder what it could possibly be!!

 

Numbers. That’s what we get, each day we’re beset with numbers.

Numbers doing what numbers do, Numbing the me, numbing the you, Numbing our sense of the she and the he, Numbing the sense that THEY are me.

With numbers ‘They’ stay ‘THEY’, It’s what numbers have allowed.

Each life lost is lost in the crowd. The shroud of death enfolds the heap, Costs it cheap.

We try to weep but numbers can put us all to sleep.

Except for those who we have known, Our flesh and blood, our very own, Who, when exhaling final groans, heard our goodbyes on the phone.

And then were buried all alone. How can each loss be shown?

Each mum, each son, each dad, each wife, Each irreplaceable, iridescent life.

Each gift a vast amount. Each ONE too much to count. Beware the numbers, our dose each day, Until we’re numbered all away.

Until we’re deadened to the toll, Till each one’s lost into the whole. But no.

Awake my soul.

Make each figure strike, Like spurs in my flesh, to stir me afresh, To see galactic worth distilled in each daughter of earth, in each son brought to birth, And near infinite crime in snuffing them out.

Let me shout to the skies with full-throated cries, and, desperate—despise—when the least of them dies.

And when COVID is done, May the numbers not numb May we wake from our slumber And number each one.

Because some day soon you will hear that the peak is long past and we’ve got the All Clear.

The lockdown has lifted and friends can draw near. And we will cheer. But let’s be clear, The numbers are not what they appear.

Each year, in this land, understand we have FOUR Covids. In This Nation, 200 000 terminations. A four-fold pestilence devours these isles, the dead in piles, a hideous mount.

But do THEY count?

In heaven’s account but what will WE say? Each day, 550 slain. They are Abel. We are Cain. And righteous blood cries out in vain. It does not enter our calculation.

We deem it beneath our briefing the nation. We only make public explanation of THESE when disEASE is pursuing. But not when the deaths are All OUR doing.

And maybe you say, “It doesn’t compare.” I say: That’s fair. Cos with the virus we were afflicted, this black death is self-inflicted. Are you convicted?

I’ll depict another figure, this one’s bigger. As I bring this number, I hear you numbing, You are. You’re ahhing and umming, You’re drumming your fingers. Your mind is elsewhere. There you go with that thousand yard stare. Are you there?

By June, worldwide, half a million have died of COVID. As I’ve said, each ONE dead is plenty.

But if we’re counting in millions, abortion’s killed 20. And that’s just by June. It’s not stopping any time soon. Every four days it kills more than the virus.

Let this truth fire us: in 96 hours it devours just the same. But without the fame. This, friend, is our silent shame. So awake my soul.

Make each figure strike, Like spurs in my flesh, to stir me afresh, To see galactic worth distilled in each daughter of earth, in each son meant for birth.

And near infinite crime in snuffing them out.

Let me shout to the skies with full-throated cries, and—desperate—despise, when the least of them dies. And when COVID is done, May the numbers not numb May we wake from our slumber And number each one.

 

 

Glen Scrivener is an Australian author and speaker living in the UK.

Speak Life is a UK based charity that resources the church to reach the world.

One Step Enough for Me

I am reading John Henry Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, which is to say, as intellectually stimulating as it is and as he is, this Anglican turned Catholic turned recently canonized Saint, is very demanding (thanks Tony)!!!

Newman

Anyway, I came across a poem he had read after following up on another thing, and came across a poem he wrote whilst sick and away from home.  In the current Covid-19 pandemic that has swept the globe, we can easily feel overwhelmed and disorientated.  But the language of the poem, though old fashioned does convey a truth about God’s providential care that we will do well to remember; namely that while we can never know the fullness of the How’s and the Why’s, we are nevertheless called to trust God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, if not for the first time, then for the umpteenth time and in deeper, personal ways, daily.

Notice the lines in the first stanza: Keep Thou my feet; I do not see, The distant scene; one step enough for me!

Continue reading “One Step Enough for Me”

The Donkey

A great little poem from the perspective of the donkey by the gentle giant that was G. K. Chesterton.  Just right for Palm Sunday!

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
*
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
*
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
*
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.
*
By G. K. Chesterton
The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1927)
I really love this poem.
It is a dark, pre-historical apocalyptic, self-aware observation of “The Donkey”.
The origins are Genesis-like, poet, intentionally non-scientific, that force the reader into a primitive age of beginnings and blood moons.
The self-understanding of the Donkey is as a devilish monster striding the earth, the ugliest, most pointless of all the creatures, “the devil’s parody” – no worse epithet could ever be used!  And if the donkey is the devil’s parody, then he bloody well won’t be doing what human beings tell him to do, that’s for sure!
Suddenly, at the end, rising from the Satanic melancholic doom and gloom, emerges a great secret.   And a great joke, and the joke is on us!
This beast knows he was chosen to carry the King of Kings as he rode into Jerusalem, as though enthroned.
It is no accident that the firstborn donkey, like the firstborn child, was to be redeemed with a lamb (Ex. 13:11-16).

100-10
The Last Laugh

Source:  donkeyheaven.org

The Peace of Wild Things

 

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron
feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

– Wendell Berry

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
 *
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
 *
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
 *
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.
By the genius that is G. K. Chesterton, from The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton, 1927

Continue reading “The Donkey”

Our Warring Madness – a poem for Good Friday

God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your power;
crown your ancient church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

Cure your children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.

Written by Harry Fosdick in 1930 (italics mine)

I bought his book The Meaning of Prayer when I read that Eugene Peterson had been deeply influenced by him and his devotional/prayer life.

I’m posting this because we all need help!

The Preface states our perennial human problem:

“This little book is written in the hope that it may help to clarify a subject which is puzzling many minds.  Prayer is the soul of religion, and failure there is not a superficial lack for the supply of which the spiritual life leisurely can wait.  Failure in prayer is the loss of religion itself in its inward and dynamic aspect of fellowship with the Eternal.  Only a theoretical deity is left to any [person] who has ceased to commune with God, and a theoretical deity saves no [person] from sin and disheartenment and fills no life with a sense of divine commission.  Such vital consequences require a living God who actually deals with people.”

The Crib and the Cry

The Crib and the Cry;

The animals in wonder.

*

The Cross and the Why;

The people in blunder.

*

Was this Jesus the Son of God?

As a baby surely not!

As a man, upon a cross, surely, no.

What would it look like if God came to earth;

*

In disguise, as one of us?

Would we see it?

Would we know?

Of course we wouldn’t, so off we go.

*

Doing our thing, without a thought;

Of the One who made us,

And saved us, our salvation bought.

*

Continue reading “The Crib and the Cry”

O Little Town of Bethlehem, How Still! We See Thee Die

 

O little town of Bethlehem, how still!  We see thee die,

Above the violent nightmare sleep, the silenced world goes by.

But where in the dark streets shine, the everlasting Light?

The hopes are dashed, the fears increased, we need your promised Might.

*

For Christ is born in world of pain, as someone shoots the dove,

While Christians sleep, the angels keep their bewildered watch of love.

Morning stars might once have sung, and praised the holy birth,

But now hate reigns; walls are built and bullets kill, and proves the curse of earth.

*

How silently, and insanely, the wondrous land is stolen,

So God imparts to occupied hearts, a courage ever bolden!

No mouth may speak against this crime, but in this world of sin,

The slightest voice raised for Justice, is accused of anti-Semitism.

*

Continue reading “O Little Town of Bethlehem, How Still! We See Thee Die”

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