Sunday, 28 August 2016


What happens when the past catches up with us, and there’s nowhere left to run? How do we find the courage to face the consequences of our actions? The legacy of Jacob’s earlier cunning and trickery was fast approaching: His brother Esau, with four hundred men would meet him tomorrow at the ford of the Jabbok stream…

Genesis 32:22-32
Then a man came and wrestled with him until just before daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he was not winning the struggle, he hit Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. 26 The man said, “Let me go; daylight is coming.” “I won't, unless you bless me,” Jacob answered. 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he answered. 28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.” 29 Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.” But he answered, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob. 30 Jacob said, “I have seen God face-to-face, and I am still alive”; so he named the place Peniel. 31 The sun rose as Jacob was leaving Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.


Jabbok – pebbles in the stream             
Scoured, striated stones
Pitted, patterned pebbles
Rounded in on themselves
Unmoving, unmoved
By whirlwinds of emotion
Tornadoes of tears
Soft murmurings of madness
From the shadows

Pebbles feel no pain
Stones know no fear
Nor the ecstasy of indecision
Until the moment is past
And the possibility is no more
Here there is completion

Here there is no life

Here you and I must wrestle
With the seeming pointlessness
of Jacob
Not over high ideals
Worth dying for
But over the pebbles of life

The monotonous ache
and petty annoyance
Of each day’s struggles

Not the soft blanket of resignation -
To turn my face to the wall
And wait for death 
But the strengthened resolve
To keep on

But maybe a little wiser
Into tomorrow.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Leper

I wonder how many of us are “comfortable in our own skin”? Are we content with our bodies – the shape and size of our physical attributes? According to Robert Crampton in the Times recently - the number of men undergoing plastic surgery has almost doubled in the past decade. Crampton wrote “I’ve never worried about my eyelids until now…" We may change the way we look, what is more difficult is to change how we feel about how we look….

Mark 1:40-41         
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”


The Leper     

He touched me

Aware only of my own hideousness
Features taut, tucked and twisted
Smooth knobbles
That once were hands
Once were feet

And worse…
Aware only of my own filthiness
Barely dressed in rags
Encrusted in dirt
And lice
And fleas

I had no beauty to attract him to me
Nothing in my appearance
That he should desire me
of no value
to others
or myself
Despised and rejected
by others
and myself

On my knees I met him
When no one else would
He touched me

Though my limbs are numb
He touched me

Where it hurt the most
He touched me
…and I am clean

“You are mine, my beloved
With you I am well pleased”

Ronald Rohlheiser 2005

“Ancient philosophers and mystics used to say that before being born each soul is kissed by God and then goes through life always, in some dark way remembering that kiss… inside each of us, there is a dark memory of having once been touched and caressed by hands far gentler than our own…  that caress… so tender and good that its memory becomes a prism through which we see everything else.”