Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Palm Sunday, 2017

The Donkey speaks:
What’s that you say?
The Lord has need of me? And my foal as well?
To carry Him to Jerusalem this day?
Ah, well, that is my lot in life, is it not?
To carry burdens upon my shoulders, like the Cross I bear.
Oh, my—I wonder if He will notice the Cross upon my back?
Will he see the Cross again very soon?
In five short days, they say.
And then I will not be there to carry Him.
For He will bear His own Cross,
And be a beast of burden for all the world.
He may ride upon my back this day.

Susan Creighton, April 9, 2017

Nativity of Christ

CHRISTMAS, 2015

I do not need to begin this Christmas meditation with a listing of the raucous and hurtful noises filling our world—you know it as well as I do.

And so this year my prayer for us all, near and far, friend and foe, beloved and stranger, is simply that this season of celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ might open each of our hearts to the Holy Silence of an innocent Babe born into His Father’s World, a world of beauty and abundance, a world of joy and peace, yet a world so often torn asunder by our inability, our unwillingness to recognize the eternal gifts given to all humankind, to all creation.

The Gospel of John says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Perhaps another way of saying that could be, “The Silence swallows the noise, and the noise has not overcome it.”

COME, HOLY SILENCE

Come, Lord Jesus, Come:
Fill the earth with
Holy Silence

Holy Silence-
gift of gentleness and peace
to terror and cruelty;

Holy Silence-
gift of humility and love
to arrogance and pride;

Holy Silence-
gift of compassion and joy
to hate and revenge;

Holy Silence-
gift of calm and hope
to fear and despair;

Holy Silence-
gift of strength and faith
to doubt and distrust.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come:
Fill our hearts with
Holy Silence

SC+ © 2015

He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Holiest of Holy

Holiest of Holy

 

It is Easter morning, and our hope is ever born anew.

And inexplicably–only God knows why–this poem, prophetic, apocalyptic, and eschatological as it is, springs to mind.

The Second Coming

W.B. Yeats in 1919

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

May you know the hope of the risen Christ this day.

Susan Creighton+

 

NATIVITY GIFTS

 Wise men from the East opened their Treasure,
offering Him gifts . . .

GOLD   INCENSE   MYRRH

 If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, would it be GOLD,
remembering others who freeze for lack of shelter?

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, would it be INCENSE,
remembering others who choke for lack of clean air?

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift would it be MYRRH,
remembering others who die for lack of fragrant oil?

 

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, it would be GOLD,
the GOLD of SILENCE in daily prayer.

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, it would be INCENSE,
the INCENSE of JOY offered at the altar.

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, it would be MYRRH,
the MYRRH of TEARS for easing of wounds.

Susan Creighton, 2014

 

 

NativityChristmas Eve, 2013

As the Holy Babe lies hidden amongst the tiny birds and pinecones of my Advent Wreath, preparing for His arrival at the crèche on Christmas Eve, I find myself turning to a review of those ancient days.

Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and the Galilee, and nearly all of the Mediterranean, as well as much of Western Europe and Britain lay under the yoke of Roman armies—called Pax Romana by modern historians. Yet even in this period of relative political peace, many were enslaved; disease and famine often drew near; and the various passions of temper and desire continued to rage within the hearts of humankind.

And in the next few centuries, more trouble brewed: the poor became worse off, while a tiny percentage amassed wealth and power; those who were deemed ‘other’ endured scorn, persecution, and sometimes martyrdom; ‘barbarians’ began to challenge the power and influence of the empire, leading to foreign wars and increased taxation; drought, famine, and crop failures, along with soaring unemployment, led to a faltering economy and mass migrations across political boundaries. Even in the fledgling Christian Church, contemporary cultural mores and theological controversies threatened not only the unity of the Church, but even the heart of the Gospel of Christ.

Well, a Christmas letter is not really the place for a history lesson, is it? Yet only a few viewings of the evening news make it all seem so very familiar. And perhaps that is as it should be, for time after time, century after century, it is into this very context of tragedy, sin, and evil that we need to hear anew the great Good News of Jesus the Christ.

Born in humility
becoming our flesh:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

For only in that great mystery of the Incarnation have the shepherds of Bethlehem, the apostles and disciples of Galilee, the monks, nuns, and hermits of deserts, mountains, and forests, and countless souls—men, women, children—found hope, joy, peace and eternal life.

May this season bring the same to each of our hearts, and thence out into the world.

SING, O ANGELS OF HEAVEN!

A Christmas Litany

Born in humility,
Becoming our flesh:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Mothers will come,
To nourish a babe:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
 
Fathers will come,
To shelter the weak:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Children will come,
Trusting, unafraid:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Shepherds will come,
Knowing his Voice:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Royalty will come,
To adore the true King:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Servants will come,
To serve at His Throne:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Sinners will come,
To weep at His Feet:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Mourners will come,
Seeking the Light:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Prisoners will come,
Longing for freedom:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Priests will come,
To lift bread and wine:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

Born in humility,
Becoming our flesh:
Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!

 © 2010 Susan Creighton

 

 

 

 

 

Adorn yourself, O cavern!
Make ready, O manger!
O shepherds and wise men,
bring your gifts
and bear witness,
for the Virgin is coming,
bearing Christ in her womb!
Vespers Hymn of St Nicholas Day

Advent, 2011

For millenia past counting, humanity has experienced both a fascination and a dread of caverns and caves. Caverns can be awesome and beautiful; caves may be narrow and constricting, or broad and expansive. Our earliest ancestors found shelter within them, and a place of defense against weather, wild animals, and human foes. Other ancestors entered caverns for shamanic rituals, and painted their walls with the creatures who both sustained and frightened them.

In the Holy Scriptures, caves are the hiding places for warriors and prophets. They are also places of revelation—Elijah hears the Voice of God in a cave, and later discovers that the Voice is most truly heard in the silence of the heart. In the Psalms, David finds caves to be a place of prayer, penitence, and forgiveness. Even the Arc of the Covenant and the altar of incense, in flight from the destruction of the first temple, find refuge in a cave. And over and over, from Abraham to Judith to Lazarus, caves are the place of burial, symbolizing the words we hear at our own burial: “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shall return.”

Is it any wonder, then, that the early Christians identified the place of our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth as a cave? Truly, it was a refuge from the perils of travel, and the crowds filling the streets of Bethlehem. This humble cavern sheltered the prayers of Mary and Joseph, shone with the adoration of shepherds, received the Magi and their gifts, and rang out with the angels’ songs of great joy.

Assuredly, this lowly cave became the Holy Dwelling of revelation—the revelation that God has come among us, clothed in human flesh; it is also a foreshadowing of Jesus’ return to a cave for His own burial, the same cave that would bear witness to His Resurrection.

May this season of Christ’s birth remind us all to pray for and serve those who also seek refuge in the night, protection from all danger, and a Holy Dwelling—be it ever so humble—in which they too may receive the gift of God’s love, and learn to sing with the angels.

The Rev’d. Susan Creighton

                AND THE ANGEL SAID:
TO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY
IN THE CITY OF DAVID
A SAVIOR, WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD.

Born in humility,
Becoming our flesh:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Mothers will come,
To nourish a babe:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Fathers will come,
To shelter the weak:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Children will come,
Trusting, unafraid:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Shepherds will come,
Knowing his Voice:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Royalty will come,
To adore the true King:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Servants will come,
To serve at His Throne:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Sinners will come,
To weep at His Feet:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Mourners will come,
Seeking the Light:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Prisoners will come,
Longing for freedom:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Priests will come,
To lift bread and wine:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!
Born in humility,
Becoming our flesh:
                Sing, O Angels of Heaven!
Proclaim the birth of Christ!


 GLORY TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON,
AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT:
AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING,
IS NOW AND EVER SHALL BE,
UNTO AGES OF AGES. AMEN.

SC+, 2010

EASTER MORN

Joseph said,
“The Tomb was closed—yet now the Rock is rolled away?”

Pilate said,
“I’ve washed my hands of this MAN—I’ll hear no wild tales HE yet lives.”

The Women said,
“We came with oils, but found a shroud—where can HE be?”

The Rain said,
“Our tears did wash HIS face—as we will wash each soul Baptized from this day hence.”

The Earth said,
“We welcomed HIS bones—and found our ancient mass transfigured into Light.”

The Fire of Hades said,
“We feared HIS coming—now HE commands us as Holy Fire.”

The Wind said,
“HIS Spirit turns our silence into Alleluias on high.”

The stars said,
“With HIS light risen from the tomb, our brightness is eternal.”

They all cried out,
“Alleluia! Christ is Risen! HE is Risen indeed! Alleluia!”

SC+, 2010

 

 

 

  

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

 

 

 HOLY SATURDAY

Joseph said,
“Here—I have a tomb, new, unused. HE may lie within.”

Pilate said,
“Take HIM—I care not where this troublesome man lies.”

The Women said,
“We weep, we mourn, but gather the oils—we will bind HIS wounds.”

The Rain said,
“Our tears will wash HIS face.”

The Earth said,
“We welcome HIS bones, formed from our dust before time began.”

The Fire of Hades said,
“We fear HIS coming—HE will steal our bounty.”

The Wind said,
“HE breathes no more, and even I am silenced.”

The stars said,
“HIS light is hidden, so we must shine bravely through darkest night.”

They all said,
“In silence, We will keep watch.”

SC+, 2010

 

 

The Whale
            A meditation for Good Friday

Sinking, sinking, sinking.
deep rest in darkness cold:
Tide washing torn flesh,
dilutes the blood,
chills the soul,
tossing limbs to and fro.

Silence beyond silence,
Cold beyond cold,
Fear beyond fear.

Bones lose strength,
and sinews sag
their very form is lost,
and what was once a life
with borders, edges, frames
returns to elemental stuff
where even cells break down
and atoms float into the void.

Consciousness and will
no more do dwell
within, without, or with at all.
There is no where, no up, no down,
no time, no space to mark
the passing of a life,
or entrance of a death. 

            And each is all.

“Remember: you are earth,
and to earth you shall return.”
We’ve got it wrong,
for earth herself
emerged from silent sea—
a pattern in the chaos we
label terra firma,
deluding our senses
into stable cosmos, order, law.

The very law of elementals
which moves in cyclic spiral,
crumbling cliffs and grinding
rocks upon the shore,
as earth dissolves into the sea,
so do our bones and soul,
becoming one within the void.

            And each is all.

Yet even there the life force moves,
and gently bumps against
my cells that are no more,
consumes and hallows emptiness:

“And there goes that Leviathan . . .”
that swallowed Jonah, spat him out:
Bone and sinew, flesh and blood?
or broken down to cell and atom, DNA?

What elemental form is known in death?
Is there some cell, some atom,
some electron with my name
engraved upon its very being? 

The dead return to earth,
that cosmic ordering of chaos,
that quieting of turbulent form. 

Yet is there not a further path,
where even earth
returns to void?

            And each is all.

 

SC+ ca. 1998

 

 

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