Haiku of humility and hospitality

Places of honour
are kept for the distinguished;
take the humble chair.

Maybe you’ll be asked
to come to a higher seat;
but then, maybe not.

Better to be known
for grace and humility,
and to be content.

Hospitality
when you expect a return
does not count for much.

When giving banquets
invite the poor, the needy;
they can’t return it.

Generosity
when it cannot be repaid
is tested and true.

Jesus lived it well;
his life, generous with love
and humility.

 

© Ken Rookes 2016

On the sabbath

Haiku for the religiously observant.

On the sabbath day
the afflicted woman came.
She asked no favours.

Eighteen years of pain,
with body bent and twisted;
Jesus called to her.

Freed by Jesus’ words,
standing upright, rejoicing;
giving praise to God.

Religious leaders
speak to defend the sabbath
from such outrages.

Six days for working!
The seventh’s not for healing;
come another day!

Get real, says Jesus.
Common sense and compassion
must rule ev’ry day.

Living is empty
if love no longer shapes us;
Embrace its freedom.

The crowd rejoices;
opponents are put to shame.
Don’t mess with Jesus.

 

© Ken Rookes 2016

The present time

Some Haiku

Kindling the fire,
the one that burns so fiercely
divides day from night.

Division not peace.
Inevitable conflict:
darkness versus light.

Baptism the door,
not to comfort or respect;
life fulfilled by death.

Households will be split;
the ones who serve the kingdom,
the ones who do not.

I, disloyal son,
dared to defy my father;
wounding more than one.

The cloud, it rises
in the west to bring the rain.
The north wind scorches.

Register the wind,
read the signs of earth and sky;
interpret the times.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Haiku for the sixth of August (and one for the ninth)

Haiku for the sixth of August:

On Hiroshima
the fiery cloud descended,
burning day to night.

 

And one for the ninth:

As if the first one
brought insufficient sorrow;
Nagasaki, too.

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

I posted these for Hiroshima Day 2015, and thought I’d repost them for this year.

It is hard to remain alert

Our houses are reliquaries.
The objects they hold have many shapes, colours and sizes;
some are valuable, and promise much.
We festoon our dwellings with chains and bolts fashioned from fear,
and security cameras, should the locks fail.
We will not be taken advantage of;
we will guard what we have.
Yes, we know these things are all just stuff;
precious, perhaps,
but stuff, nonetheless.
In time it will all be reduced to dust.
Still we take much comfort from our locks.

The disciple is to be prepared, alert;
so the ancient scripture enjoins.
This instructive text was written in those excited early years
when the imminent return of the master
was eagerly anticipated.
Jesus is coming; look busy!
After two millenia the sense of expectancy
has largely evaporated, at least for some of us.
For twenty-first century disciples
the urgent metaphors for faithful living –
being dressed for action and keeping our oil lamps burning –
must have some other purpose.

 

© Ken Rookes 2016

The land of a rich man

Some haiku

Here is foolishness;
gathering goods into barns
constructed from fear.

Have you not enough
to live with grace, dignity
gratitude and love?

The foolish rich man;
these things will be swept away.
All is vanity.

We separate them,
these two words, foolish and rich;
should be joined as one.

The poor, he once said,
will be with you forever.
The rich too, I fear.

Yes, it’s a cliché:
you cannot take it with you.
Still, it is the truth.

Storing up treasures
is futile, gains you nothing;
be rich towards God.

© Ken Rookes 2016

There is a place

They say there is a place, a state;
a sacred somewhere.
Distant; but not always.
A mystery glimpsed, at times,
on other occasions, cloud-shrouded
with shimmering smoke, obscured
such that only the persistent
will gaze long and hard enough
to be certain it is there.
A place that is there to be found by those who search;
a few stumble upon it.
Their surprise and delight is great.

There, meaning is written sharply,
truths are incandescent
and painted on walls.
There, light shines with the clear brightness
of autumn late afternoons,
the loving is fierce,
and justice compels.
This elusive place appears
as a flash glimpsed
for a moment among the shadows;
where mystery’s flickering panorama excites
and calls to the depths
to awaken aches and earnings.

Seek, the man once instructed his friends.
You will find; and watch,
as the divinely dusted universe
opens to disclose its possibilities.

 

© Ken Rookes 2016