Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Sunday Morning, King's Cambridge

File into yellow candle light, fair choristers of King’s
Lost in the shadowy silence of canopied Renaissance stalls
In blazing glass above the dark glow skies and thrones and wings
Blue, ruby, gold and green between the whiteness of the walls
And with what rich precision the stonework soars and springs
To fountain out a spreading vault – a shower that never falls.

The white of windy Cambridge courts, the cobbles brown and dry,
The gold of plaster Gothic with ivy overgrown,
The apple-red, the silver fronts, the wide green flats and high,
The yellowing elm-trees circled out on islands of their own –
Oh, here behold all colours change that catch the flying sky
To waves of pearly light that heave along the shafted stone.

In far East Anglian churches, the clasped hands lying long
Recumbent on sepulchral slabs or effigied in brass
Buttress with prayer this vaulted roof so white and light and strong
And countless congregations as the generations pass
Join choir and great crowned organ case, in centuries of song
To praise Eternity contained in Time and coloured glass.

--John Betjeman (1906-1984), British poet and writer, UK Poet Laureate from 1972-1984

Image from Wikipedia

Thursday, February 1, 2024

From Crossings

On St. Brigid's Day the new life could be entered
By going through her girdle of straw rope
The proper way for men was right leg first
Then right arm and right shoulder, head, then left
Shoulder, arm and leg.
Women drew it down
Over the body and stepped out of it
The open they came into by these moves
Stood opener, hoops came off the world
They could feel the February air
Still soft above their heads and imagine
The limp rope fray and flare like wind-born gleanings
Or an unhindered goldfinch over ploughland.

--Seamus Heaney (1935-2013), Irish poet, translator, teacher, essayist and winner of the Noble Prize for Literature

St. Brigid's Day is February 2.

Friday, January 26, 2024


Since nothing actually exists except You,
Then why do I keep hearing all this noise?

These magnificent women with their beauty astound me.
Their side-glances, their eyebrows, how does all that work?
What is it?

These palm trees and these tulips, where did they come from?
What purpose do they serve? What are clouds and wind?

We hope for faithfulness and loyalty from people.
But people don't have the faintest idea what loyalty is.

Good rises from good actions, and that is good.
Beyond that, what else do saints and good people say?

I am willing to give up my breath and my life for you,
Even though I don't know the first thing about sacrifice.

The abundant objects of the world mean nothing at all!
But if the wine is free, how could Ghalib hold back.

-- Ghalib (Mirza Beg Asadullah Khan) (1797–1869), Urdu-speaking Indian poet

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Highland Mary

Ye banks, and braes, and streams around
         The castle o' Montgomery,
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
         Your waters never drumlie!
There Simmer first unfald her robes,
         And there the langest tarry:
For there I took the last Fareweel
         O' my sweet Highland Mary.

How sweetly bloom'd the gay, green birk,
         How rich the hawthorn's blossom;
As underneath their fragrant shade,
         I clasp'd her to my bosom!
The golden Hours, on angel wings,
         Flew o'er me and my Dearie;
For dear to me as light and life
         Was my sweet Highland Mary.

Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
         Our parting was fu' tender;
And pledging aft to meet again,
         We tore oursels asunder:
But Oh! fell Death's untimely frost,
         That nipt my Flower sae early!
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay,
         That wraps my Highland Mary!

O pale, pale now, those rosy lips,
         I aft hae kiss'd sae fondly!
And clos'd for ay the sparkling glance,
         That dwalt on me sae kindly!
And mouldering now in silent dust,
         That heart that lo'ed me dearly!
But still within my bosom's core
         Shall live my Highland Mary.

--Robert Burns (1759-1796), national poet of Scotland. Today is Burns's birthday, and tonight is Burns' Night. 

This is one of three songs Burns wrote to honor Mary Campbell, whom he loved. It is sung to the tune of "Katherine Ogie." 

The bronze statue above was unveiled on 21 July 1896, the centenary of Burns' death, and made of bronze, was sculpted by David Watson Stephenson. It stands, facing southeast, on a round ashlar pedestal with an octagonal cap and base. It is inscribed Burns Highland Mary.

brae= steep hillside
drumlie=rough and muddy

birk=birch tree

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Prayer 4026: Inspired by the Example of Florence Li Tim-Oi

Almighty God,
we worship and praise you this day,
and seek your will in our lives.
Inspire us by the example of your servant Florence,
who humbly accepted your call to minister
even in the midst of war and oppression,
bringing your sacraments to her people
that their faith and hope be nourished.
Give us the courage to feed the hungry, clothe the naked,
shelter the unhoused, landcare for the ill
as bravely and as selflessly,
even in defiance of tyrants,
and grant the warmth of your comforting embrace
to those for whom we pray.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Concluding Prayers for POP for 4th after Epiphany B

God of every land and nation,
you have created all people
and you dwell among us in Jesus Christ.
Listen to the cries of those who pray to you,
and grant that, as we proclaim the greatness of your name,
all people will know the power of love at work in the world.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Holy God, you gather the whole universe
into your radiant presence
and continually reveal your Son as our Savior.
Bring healing to all wounds,
make whole all that is broken,
speak truth to all illusion,
and shed light in every darkness,
that all creation will see your glory and know your Christ. Amen.

--from Vanderbilt Divinity Library's resources for the Revised Common Lectionary.

Prayers for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany B

Perfect Light of revelation,
as you shone in the life of Jesus,
whose epiphany we celebrate,
so shine in us and through us,
that we may become beacons of truth and compassion,
enlightening all creation with deeds of justice and mercy. Amen.


O God,
you spoke your word
and revealed your good news in Jesus, the Christ.
Fill all creation with that word again,
so that by proclaiming your joyful promises to all nations
and singing of your glorious hope to all peoples,
we may become one living body,
your incarnate presence on the earth. Amen.

--from Vanderbilt Divinity Library's Revised Common Lectionary resources

Monday, January 8, 2024


What is this dark hum among the roses?
The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that's all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They're small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness? The little
worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand
that life is a blessing. I have found them — haven't you? —
stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings
a little tattered — so much flying about, to the hive,
then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing,
should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee.
I think there isn't anything in this world I don't
admire. If there is, I don't know what it is. I
haven't met it yet. Nor expect to. The bee is small,
and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and
read books, I have to
take them off and bend close to study and
understand what is happening. It's not hard, it's in fact
as instructive as anything I have ever studied. Plus, too,
it's love almost too fierce to endure, the bee
nuzzling like that into the blouse
of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course
the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over
all of us.

-- Mary Oliver (1935-2019), Pulitzer Prize winning poet and recipient of the National Book Award

Image: Bees in a Lavender Farm, Te Awamutu, New Zealand, 2023

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Sun Never Says

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the
Whole Sky.

-- Hafiz, (Khwāje Shams-od-Dīn Moḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e), (1325-1390) the greatest of Persian poets and Sufi Muslim.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

On Imagination

Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
    How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp by thee!
Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.

    From Helicon's refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.

    Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.

    Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul.

    Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes
The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain;
Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,
And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd:
Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.

    Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain,
O thou the leader of the mental train:
In full perfection all thy works are wrought,
And thine the sceptre o'er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,
Of subject-passions sov'reign ruler thou;
At thy command joy rushes on the heart,
And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.

    Fancy might now her silken pinions try
To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high:
From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise,
Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold,
And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,
But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,
Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;
Winter austere forbids me to aspire,
And northern tempests damp the rising fire;
They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea,
Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

--Phillis Wheatley, (1753-1784), Senegal/Gambian-born African American poet, who achieved international fame for her verse even though she lived most of her life as an enslaved person in Boston; from Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (1773).