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.
G K Chesterton
Stripped bare for Lent down to the framework God has built,
the skeleton that is to be re-clothed.
Re-clothed with new shoots
and God given beauty.
Day by day the purple of sorrow will fade from view,
not in a blink of an eye but gradually
little by little.
With eyes willing to see
can we see what God sees?
With all the trappings we have placed removed
with nothing – not even a fig leaf -
to hide behind in our own Lenten nakedness.
Can we see?
See what God sees,
as God sees,
the potential, the promise,
the bright raiment waiting to clothe us.
Clothe us in a splendour beyond our imagination,
beyond our wildest dreams,
beyond all hope and reason.
This was origionally a piece I did for the Lenten blog Beauty from Chaos were you will find at least one new post every day from a host of authors.
In a more sedate manner, although no less glorious, at St Andrew’s on Sunday evening celebrations were also afoot this time nothing to do with animals, but rather an Evensong to mark the Queen’s Jubilee.
Although it was Evensong not a Coronation with Communion, as I happen to have a copy of the service which was used on 2nd June 1953, we used parts of it for the service, we would have used more parts of it had I thought to look at it before all the music choices had been made and music ordered – that will have to wait for the Sapphire celebration!
One of the great things about the service was again the number of people who were not members of St Andrew’s who came along, a small group of them having seen it in the local paper.
John Mansefield was the Poet Laureate at the time of the Queen’s Coronation and wrote these verses for the occasion, they really do speak of another time:
This Lady whom we crown was born
When buds were green upon the thorn
And earliest cowslips showed;
When still unseen by mortal eye
One cuckoo tolled his “Here am I,”
And over little glints of sky,
In rain-pools whence the trickles flowed,
The small snipe clattered wing.
The swallows were upon the road,
Nought but the cherry-blossom snowed,
The promise was on all fields sowed
Of Earth’s beginning Spring.
Now that we crown her as our Queen
May love keep all her pathways green,
May sunlight bless her days;
May the fair Spring of her beginning
Ripen to all things worth the winning,
The very surest of our praise
That mortal men attempt,
May this old land revive and be
Again a star set in the sea,
A Kingdom fit for such as she
With glories yet undreamt.
A verse from the psalm from yesterdays evening office as being playing round my head all night.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.
As usual my brain has been doing a bouncing act all over the place first to the opening lines to Willima Congreve’s ‘The Mourning Bride’:
Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
It sounded like some deep muscle massage therapy, just like solving the riddle with the harp.
Then I started to think of music, which type would help solve a riddle? Pieces of music started to flit around my head most were discarded being too distracting for various reasons then for some reason Saint-Saens with his ‘Carnival of Animals’ stuck.
It starts of with the royal march of the lions a smooth power chasing away anything that might distract. However before the lions themselves lull you into distraction the chickens and roosters arrive with their scratching to bring you back to the riddle. A quick run with the wild asses to focus the mind before having to listen intently to the quiet tortoise hesitantly ponder along as the riddle is mulled over. As is always best in these cases some more pondering from a slightly different perspective as the lumbering elephants take over. Then, well then some bouncing up and down with the kangaroos realising you are on the cusp of something before joining the harps in the aquarium to glide up and down testing a solution. The eureka scream with the mules, before a gradual realisation that the cuckoo in the woods has come along and you might have hatched the wrong egg! The other birds come along revisiting of the original riddle and the solution swooping and flitting between each part. Then come the apes or pianists with their ordered scales putting the riddle back in the right order before the fossils tap at your head trying to knock out the solution that is already there. Then the swan arrives gracefully leading you back to the solution from the harps and everything becomes calm as the riddle is realised as solved. All that is left is to celebrate with the finale!
No knots or rocks but I can’t help wondering if the popular misquote of Congreve ‘Music soothes the savage beast’ led me unknowingly to that piece of music.
Today being Sea Sunday I used John Masefeild’s poem ‘Sea Fever’ to contrast the idyll of pottering about on boats with the harsh reality of a seafarers life. Now as he is not yet dead 100 years I can not copy his poem out in full for you on this blog, however I can quote a couple of lines which I absolutely love:
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
The beauty of poetry telling of harshness amidst romance, painting a picture with but a few words which would take far too many more words to explain but yet still speak loud and clear, speaking to the heart and soul. There is something so liturgical about those final six words ‘the wind’s like a whetted knife.’, something about them that rings and resounds and speaks of oh so many things.
What with all the Holy Week and Easter Prep and a funeral thrown in for good measure the blog has had to take a back seat again – however at the school Assembly on Friday this poem, which is new to me, was used and I thought I would share it with you. Gave me tinges when I heard it being read.
Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stables,
stars and babies wrapped
in swaddling clothes.
Then there are wise men,
kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.
Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by
a cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of a nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
and the first snowdrop
Or they’d do better to
wait for a re-run of
Christmas without asking
too many questions about
what Jesus did when he grew up
or whether there’s any connection.