King of Hearts

Why do we think, so often,

That we can read people’s hearts

From who they seem to be?

A typical ‘lad’

With bravado and swagger,

Acts like God’s gift to the laydeez of the town,

Downs shots in the club till oblivion claims him

why?

To cover his broken heart

to escape the pain of not being

who she wanted him to be

and to run away

from himself

whereas she,

yes, the one ‘dressed like a hooker’

she’s looking for love, you know

though it might not look like it.

She rifles through men like dresses in a closet

and not one of them fits

not one of them flatters or is kind

and so her little-girl fantasies die

one painful dream-death after another.

And he,

That lonely tramp sitting on the park bench

muttering to himself,

no-one knows what he’s been through,

why he’s clutching a broken dead rose

as though it is a lifeline.

Everyone avoids him, with mingled pity and scorn

truth be told

so do I

because, it is true,

I make these kinds of judgements about people

In fact,

the most judgemental person I know

is me, myself, and I.

So it is as much to myself as to you I speak

when I say

we have no right

to judge them.

Judgement, you might think,

is an outworn word,

not a 21st century phrase

we don’t ‘judge’, we ‘tolerate’.

Do we?

then why do people like me

still think and speak

poisonous words?

Is’t not true that

our opinions are formed merely on what we see,

and we do not understand the deepest levels

even of our friends?

Only One in this universe

knows the depths of a person’s heart,

only One

can see to the very centre of things

and we are blind, deaf and dumb

where He picks up on

the tiniest butterfly-wing stirring

within each soul.

I know

because He sees my shame

my worst thoughts, and my

most evil deeds

Believe you me, there is a lot of that to be seen…

And yet

He loves me so crazily

that He’d die for me.

There is no greater, wider, deeper, higher love

than that of Him who dies for His enemies

to make them His friends.

King of hearts, so humble me

to know that I am no heart-reader,

I cannot even begin to try.

King of hearts, bring me to my knees

in awe of Your love

so beautiful and free

and break my judgemental heart in two

so that broken, this vessel,

might receive

So much more of You.

Yours Alone

I lay
suspended in embryonic comfort
and unseen hands,
sculpted my very being.
This was my introduction, to You.

When daylight flared with the rising sun
it was the way You’d planned it.

All through those
sunshine, bare feet and laughter days,
those tears and tantrums days
You were with me.

When I was surrounded by loving comfort and peace,
nestled in the warmth of a parent’s embrace,
it was the way You’d planned it.

In all those lonely days of hurt and defiance,
silently sullen at school,
and in the magical times of familial comfort
and times of wonder,
yes, I knew You were with me

When Your Spirit filled me as the sun set
it was the way You’d planned it.

And when my world broke down on me,
dissolving in a mist of lies and futile pain,
when I didn’t want You near
– You were too bright, too holy –
Yet You were with me.

When I’d cried myself dry, couldn’t get up off my knees,
this was the way You’d planned it

to draw me back to You.

When it’s dark
and I am cold,
I will look to the Cross and know
that You gave up everything for me,
though You did not have to.

When the warm sun lingers in the west
kissing my face, and I hear the laughter
of family and friends,
I’ll look again to the Cross, and know
that all I am and have
is Yours alone.

I am Yours alone;
this is the way You planned it.

Birthday Thunderstorm

The summer air is hot and heavy,
scented by the approach of a storm,
that smell of coolness in the searing heat that brings
such an aching desire for the skies to burst open like an overripe fruit
and spill its succulence everywhere.

I, impatient birthday girl,
run barefoot out onto our back lawn
throwing off restraint as I go.

The trees are dancing, the wind is gusting,
the bellying black clouds are overhead,
pregnant with promise

and then

the lightning strikes,
and I gasp and whirl
around in just enough time to see it strike,
like a snake lunging out of dry grass.

Then comes the thunder; elemental, rich, majestic,
echoing like the sound of giants moving furniture,
thrilling my soul with rejoicing
at such untameable force, that will always remain
mysterious.

So I close my eyes and throw back my head
as the rain comes
soaking me through and through,
and falling on my face,
my eyelashes, cheeks, and lips,
curved upwards in a smile.

The life-giving streams course down from heaven,
and, laughing helplessly at the wonder of it all,
I begin to dance.

Ffald-y-Brenin

Getting lost on the way was part of the fun.
Singing along to Queen at the tops of our lungs,
in the back of Hannah’s car
on that dark country lane at night;
that’s the stuff,
that memories are made of.

Out there, where the chill in the air and the tingle of being alive,
were just a part of the wonder,
the starkness of the cross on that hillside,
framed against the ice-blue winter sky,
united us all.
Hope burst over the hills in a morning blaze of blood and gold,
Liz and I watched, awestruck;
silent companions,
in the presence of His glory.

The cosy comfort of sitting together talking, singing, praying
was deliciously new with each other.
The smell of the sea in January
and the slapping of bare feet on freezing sand,
twinned with the slamming of hands at Irish snap,
and helpless giggles at midnight.

The contemplative quiet of the fireside lent itself
to observing the gentle beauty of rain
on the window-sills.

The joy that flowed in those few days was as
a foretaste of heaven.
The sudden wisdom
of my friends,
gave out a fleeting glimpse –
a sunbeam-illumination –
of Glory Divine.

It is true, of course,
that we are broken clay vessels for His Living Water;
yet to us He so freely gives.

In the Sheepfold of the King,
There was joy, laughter, fun;
Military graces, the prayer cave,
Boys’ banter, girls’ chatter,
Singing, stillness, love – and yet –

A deep awareness in us,
a new song to sing,
Of the One who rescued us from death,
to glorify Him.

Home – A haibun

Bare branches stand still, upright sentinels, not stirred by even the vaguest breath of wind. Hints of winter sunset are already making the clouded horizon dim above the red church that sits at the bottom of my garden.

bright red church
painted to stand out, a sore thumb
with its automated bells

Decorated with last autumn’s leaves, with garden chairs and my little’s sister’s climbing frame, with our flame-licked iron brazier which we light on occasion to toast marshmallows outside, our garden sits, awaiting spring’s kinder breath to bring much-needed change, to bring new life.

I find quiet here,
time for contemplation
in my busy world

I remember a few winters back – quite a few – being out with my dad in the back garden, splitting logs to burn on the fire. Noel had given us the tree that fell down in his back garden, and we were cutting logs for the logpile.
Dad told me to be careful with the axe. Swinging it overhead and bringing it straight down into the wood was a strange kind of fun. But you had to watch it if you didn’t want to cut your own foot off too.

you have to be alert,
always watching and waiting for
where you must go next

We will leave here soon. This military quarter has been a stopping place for us all, no more than that. It will hurt to make a clean break with the past, but we will be attentive, and will keep our own two feet to stand on.

Home is not here. It is what seems the same, yet is ever-changing – where family is.

Three words: I love you
so simple, so resonant
a safety blanket,

an invitation,
speak anything you will here
you are safe with me.

(un)spoiled

I can never get enough of the way the wind blows over the mountain side,
And the flicker and flame of autumn leaves all burnished up to die,
The white-wisp-waves of a curling mist that sweeps in from the sea,
Even ice cold rain that lashes down – that is a delight to me.

To hear the rain on the windowpane while you’re snug and warm indoors,
Lost in an enchanting paper world of love and knights and more,
While you glance up at times to see outside the hills beyond the rain,
Smiling as you think to yourself, it will be spring again.

From lonely mountain crag echoes to me the wild’s call,
From the soul of a fire’s dancing flames and its shadows on the wall,
The roaring sound of an angry sea it beckons me once more,
‘Come taste the sea salt spray again; live as you did before.’

But alas! I walk in foreign lands, among diesel and petrol fumes
My mother tongue lies still in my mouth, useless now to use,
My restless mind is dull and numb; my heart it longs to be
Where the horns and blare of a city’s care can no more impact me.

I miss the sound of the breeze that ruffles the flowers’ pretty heads,
I miss the sound of voices I know, I miss my own soft bed!
But as I stay awhile here I find all that’s familiar to me,
Is a treasure I now clearly see should greatly esteemed be.

When I return from foreign lands where pollution chokes the air;
I’ll walk instead of driving now, and I’ll recycle, I swear!
For the beauty of my native land and all other lands I’ve seen,
All the blue-hued summer skies and the fields of green:

I could not live without it; I would die, and so would you;
When all that’s fresh and beautiful and rainwashed bright and new,
Is dead on the ground and buried in trash in a concrete-iron hell,
While we slowly choke on the befouled air that sounds our own death knell.