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He sadly sat beside the road;
His engine’s gasket blown –
His car was old and cold and towed;
The man was left alone.

‘I need to find a place to stay
Until it’s fixed,’ he spoke –
But when he rose to walk away,
Arrived a band of folk.

‘You’re truly warmly welcome here
To while away the night –
We’re monks,’ they said, ‘and living near,
As well as brothers might.’

With thanks, the man inclined his head,
And through the dusky gloom –
He followed where the Abbot led,
Who showed him to a room.

But when he tried to sleep, he found
A noise that started small –
The most surprising, splendid sound
Emerging through the wall.

It made him think of sirens song –
The secret chimes of Mars –
The shrouded space where dreams belong –
The voice beyond the stars.

It made him think of love and peace –
The hidden world behind –
The perfect place where problems cease
To vex the waking mind.

The morning broke.
The man awoke;
‘What was it, monks?’ he cried.
‘Alas, we cannot say,’ they spoke –
‘You’re not a monk,’ they sighed.

‘I have to know!’ the man explained,
And so, without remorse –
He joined the house, and prayed and trained,
To find the noise’s source.

He took the Test of Absent Bliss;
The Woes of Anguish Drowned –
He braved the Gulf of Faith’s Abyss –
And all to find the sound.

And when he’d pained and strained and bled,
And most his life had passed –
‘You’re ready now,’ the others said,
‘To see the source at last.’

They took him where the air was fair,
And where, inside a trunk…

I’d love to tell you what was there.

Alas, you’re not a monk.


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BC–AD.  U.A. Fanthorpe
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

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“Goodwill to Men – Give us your Money!” by Pam Ayres

Goodwill to Men – Give us your Money!” by Pam Ayres


It was Christmas Eve on a Friday
The shops was full of cheer,
With tinsel in the windows,
And presents twice as dear.
A thousand Father Christmases,
Sat in their little huts,
And folk was buying crackers
And folk was buying nuts.All up and down the country,
Before the light was snuffed,
Turkeys they get murdered,
And cockerels they got stuffed,
Christmas cakes got marzipanned,
And puddin’s they got steamed
Mothers they got desperate
And tired kiddies screamed.

Hundredweight’s of Christmas cards,
Went flying through the post,
With first class postage stamps on those,
You had to flatter most.
Within a million kitchens,
Mince pies was being made,
On everyone’s radio,
“White Christmas”, it was played.

Out in the frozen countryside
Men crept round on their own,
Hacking off the holly,
What other folks had grown,
Mistletoe on willow trees,
Was by a man wrenched clear,
So he could kiss his neighbour’s wife,
He’d fancied all the year.
And out upon the hillside,
Where the Christmas trees had stood,
All was completely barren,
But for little stumps of wood,
The little trees that flourished
All the year were there no more,
But in a million houses,
Dropped their needles on the floor.

And out of every cranny, cupboard,
Hiding place and nook,
Little bikes and kiddies’ trikes,
Were secretively took,
Yards of wrapping paper,
Was rustled round about,
And bikes were wheeled to bedrooms,
With the pedals sticking out.

Rolled up in Christmas paper
The Action Men were tensed,
All ready for the morning,
When their fighting life commenced,
With tommy guns and daggers,
All clustered round about,
“Peace on Earth – Goodwill to Men”
The figures seemed to shout.

The church was standing empty,
The pub was standing packed,
There came a yell, “Noel, Noel!”
And glasses they got cracked.
From up above the fireplace,
Christmas cards began to fall,
And trodden on the floor, said:
“Merry Christmas, to you all.”


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Bad Days by Boris Pasternak

Bad Days

When Passion week started and Jesus 
Came down to the city, that day 
Hosannahs burst out at his entry 
And palm leaves were strewn in his way. 

But days grow more stern and more stormy. 
No love can men’s hardness unbend; 
Their brows are contemptuously frowning, 
And now comes the postscript, the end. 

Grey, leaden and heavy, the heavens 
Were pressing on treetops and roofs. 
The Pharisees, fawning like foxes, 
Were secretly searching for proofs. 

The lords of the Temple let scoundrels 
Pass judgement, and those who at first 
Had fervently followed and hailed him, 
Now all just as zealously cursed. 

The crowd on the neighbouring sector 
Was looking inside through the gate. 
They jostled, intent on the outcome, 
Bewildered and willing to wait. 

And whispers and rumours were creeping, 
Repeating the dominant theme. 
The flight into Egypt, his childhood 
Already seemed faint as a dream. 

And Jesus remembered the desert, 
The days in the wilderness spent, 
The tempting with power by Satan, 
That lofty, majestic descent. 

He thought of the wedding at Cana, 
The feast and the miracles; and 
How once he had walked on the waters 
Through mist to a boat, as on land; 

The beggarly crowd in a hovel, 
The cellar to which he was led; 
How, started, the candle-flame guttered, 
When Lazarus rose from the dead…

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A Poem for Epiphany

T.S. Eliot – “Journey of the Magi”

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death



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January 6, 2014 · 16:00


I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–

The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money! Twice.
Next to him was my old neighbour
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
Would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.

‘And why’s everyone so quiet,
So sombre – give me a clue.’
‘Hush, child,’ He said, ‘they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.’


Remember…Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian
Any more than…Standing in your garage makes you a car.

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Wrestling Jacob

Wrestling Jacob

Charles Wesley

Come, O thou Traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see!

My company before is gone, And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day.

I need not tell Thee who I am, My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name, Look on Thy hands, and read it there;
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou? Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.

In vain Thou strugglest to get free, I never will unloose my hold!
Art Thou the Man that died for me? The secret of Thy love unfold;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal Thy new, unutterable Name?
Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell; To know it now resolved I am;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

’Tis all in vain to hold Thy tongue Or touch the hollow of my thigh;
Though every sinew be unstrung, Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly;
Wrestling I will not let Thee go Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

What though my shrinking flesh complain, And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain, When I am weak, then I am strong
And when my all of strength shall fail, I shall with the God-man prevail.

Contented now upon my thigh I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness I On Thee alone for strength depend;
Nor have I power from Thee to move: Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.

My strength is gone, my nature dies, I sink beneath Thy weighty hand,
Faint to revive, and fall to rise; I fall, and yet by faith I stand;
I stand and will not let Thee go Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

Yield to me now, for I am weak, But confident in self-despair;
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak, Be conquered by my instant prayer;
Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move, And tell me if Thy Name is Love.

’Tis Love! ’tis Love! Thou diedst for me! I hear Thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee, Pure, universal love Thou art;
To me, to all, Thy bowels move; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

My prayer hath power with God; the grace Unspeakable I now receive;
Through faith I see Thee face to face, I see Thee face to face, and live!
In vain I have not wept and strove; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

I know Thee, Saviour, who Thou art. Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend;
Nor wilt Thou with the night depart. But stay and love me to the end,
Thy mercies never shall remove; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

The Sun of righteousness on me Hath rose with healing in His wings,
Withered my nature’s strength; from Thee My soul its life and succour brings;
My help is all laid up above; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Lame as I am, I take the prey, Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way, And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove Thy nature and Thy Name is Love

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July 11, 2013 · 15:32

“The Fourth Wise Man” by Dermot Dorgan

“Three Wise Men came to Bethlehem following a star,

Their names we’re told were Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar.

One brought a gift of frankincense, the others myrrh and gold,

They came to greet the newborn king, the Gospel story told.

They gave their gifts to Jesus in the manger where he lay

His mother offered coffee, but they said they couldn’t stay.

They got back on their camels, near the stable they’d been tied,

And as they headed off back east, Mary softly sighed:

“I really don’t need perfume – though myrrh of course is tops,

And gold is always useful, but we’re nowhere near the shops,

And frankincense is lovely – but a stable’s not the place.

I hope they’re not the wisest men in all the human race!

“It was very good of them to come from such a far-off land,

After all that time on camels, it’s a wonder they could stand,

But bringing Jesus gifts of myrrh and frankincense and gold –

It’s just not very practical – he’s only ten days old!”

Next afternoon a man appeared outside the stable gate,

He said he was the Fourth Wise Man, and sorry he was late.

“I’ve brought some things I thought you’d need – it’s just a little gift”.

A quick inspection of his bag gave Mary’s heart a lift.

A frozen casserole was there, and a stuffed and fluffy toy.

Some baby clothes in pastel blue – he’d guessed it was a boy!

“The thought of washing nappies”, Mary cried “need not unnerve us,

For here’s a six-month voucher for a nappy washing service!”

She turned to thank the stranger, but the stranger wasn’t there;

He’d slipped away and vanished in the chilly winter air.

But on the gate he’d left a note, quite simple, but profound –

“Don’t write this in the Gospel, please – I’d never live it down!”

So don’t forget the Fourth Wise Man – the wisest of the lot.

He brought the really useful gifts the other three forgot.

If thoughts of gold and frankincense and myrrh don’t leave you glum

It’s because you’re prob’ly not a young and new (and first time) Mum”.

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