is the deep ache
that makes the moments of joy
so good.

It is the heart’s stirring,
the mind’s yearning,
and the singing of the soul.

It will not be dis-couraged;
for it is our loving,
more than anything else, which
reflects the image of our maker.

Without love there is no living.
Its giving and its mercy
never stop.

© Ken Rookes

Today this scripture has been fulfilled . . .

Today this scripture has been fulfilled . . .

Part one.

Big call;
in front of his home crowd, too.
The mood appears to have been generous;
A more modest, “begins to be fulfilled,”
might have been more judicious;
but then, unlike the majority of his followers,
Jesus was never particularly cautious.
In most centuries
he would have been locked up
as a troublemaker, or a communist.
In 21st century Australia,
his middle-eastern appearance,
along with his gang of similarly disreputable types,
would have generated
a substantial ASIO file by now.
Not to mention his wild talk
of freedom for the oppressed
and good news for the poor;
a call to revolution if ever we heard one.
And then, as if that isn’t enough,
he goes and brings God into it!
Big call!
Who does he think he is?

Part two.

The teacher couldn’t leave well enough alone.
The crowd  were impressed;
His incendiary manifesto
slipped through, apparently unnoticed.
It’s what happens in every generation;
so many miss the disturbing implications
of such radical and loosely labelled “good news.”
For the poor, – only if the rich
can embrace the liberty of letting go;
for the oppressed, – only if the powerful
decide that they can do without their privileges;
for the captives, – only if the fearful choose
to risk their hearts, take on compassion,
and trust in the healing qualities
of grace and freedom.
And for the blind, – only if the unseeing ones
can be persuaded to open their eyes
to see for themselves
the gathering wonder and shining hope.
But no; he won’t allow them to stay
in the comfort of their unlistening.
Before they can begin to get
even the smallest corner
of their collective crania around it all,
he provokes his native crowd
with the “no acceptance
in the prophet’s hometown,”
Who does he think he is?

© Ken Rookes 2013

Yes, two for the price of one, folks!
The gospel readings for Epiphany 3 and 4 overlap, so I thought I’d treat them as a pair.
Part one Epiphany 3, (Jan. 27), Part two Epiphany 4 (Feb. 3)

Good news for the poor

I am not poor. I have food enough
to satisfy any momentary hunger;
and clothes sufficient to cover my nakedness,
even, when occasion requires,
to allow me to look stylish.
I have a dwelling, mostly paid for,
modest by the standards of my community,
but providing generous
shelter, privacy and comfort.
I have ready access
to the energy resources of my planet
allowing me to travel, to be entertained,
and to keep me warm, or cool,
according to my needs.
I visit the doctor when I am ill,
and can purchase medicines
at an affordable price.
And with the money that I have left over
I have access to learning, information and art,
along with the time to indulge these things.
Good news for the poor, I imagine,
would see dignity preserved,
hunger assuaged,
health care provided,
and the deliverance of a tolerable standard
of shelter, education and security.
Good news for the poor, I imagine,
would see those of us who are rich
being persuaded to share
recklessly and hopefully
of our abundance.

Ken Rookes


Gospel writer John springs a miracle
to get things going. It’s a strange one,
a classic conundrum: water into wine.
Fortunately the miracle was never replicated
by Jesus, or any of his followers since.
In every age there have been those
who reached out to grasp
the dubious gift of drunken oblivion,
but they all managed to do so
by more conventional means.
Let’s quietly pack the miracle away,
let it age and gather dust in the cellar;
it proves nothing, never did.
The coming together of two people,
pledging their love and devotion
and becoming one flesh,
is made the occasion for this story
of joyous and abundant celebration.
Jesus, Word made flesh,
is both purpose and provider
for the party.
Buckets of water into buckets of wine;
dance until you drop!
Glorious excess;
there are no limits to joy.
Human existence has been unexpectedly infused
with something far more wondrous
than any mere miracle.
Jesus from the divine parent’s heart;
bearer of grace and truth,
and shining his light into the darkness,
lives among us.
Pour some wine: we have to celebrate!

© Ken Rookes 2013

Hot and windy

Hot and windy.
Really hot; the like of which
recorded history had previously
remained ignorant.
An apprehensive landscape
waiting fearfully for the ominous spark
that would create a devouring monster;
the dragon with many heads
sitting in triumph astride a parched terrain.
Ordinary women and men,
noting its rapid progress with alarm,
took arms of tank, pump and hose
attempting to defy the onslaught;
whilst communities, nestled
amidst once sweet and welcoming bush,
drank bitter draughts of grief
and tearful disbelief.
These things were never meant to be!
Those who ask difficult questions
shall be excused: Where can God be,
when hell has spilled beyond
its metaphorical gates to turn
rough eucalyptian beauty
into roaring flame and ash?
Where, indeed;
but perhaps
in the dirty faces and
weary, smoke-filled eyes?

© Ken Rookes

I wrote this in response to the “Black Saturday” fires in 2009. People might find it useful in the current circumstances.


When Jesus was baptised

They say that when Jesus was baptized,
the heavens opened,
and the Holy Spirit, however she is conceived,
flew between the realms
hitherto designated as either divine or human.
At this moment the previously exclusive distinction
began to fade and dissolve into an irrelevance,
that, millennia later, continues to disturb and frighten.
Then, by all accounts, celestial dove-like descending flutterances
became enmeshed with the swirling uncertainties
of earth’s dust;
beginning with the man from Nazareth.
Amidst the resigned dreariness of mortal fears and struggles,
he began to live flashes of love and other-worldly light
that caused many to gasp.
Some drew breath deeply with joyous hope and wonder,
released their dreams,
and went searching for the teacher so they might hear more.
Others groaned with fear, and shook.
Seeking only that he should go away, they resolved
to build their walls higher and their vaults stronger.
But the divine affirmation of this beloved son
was already spoken,
and the thing would not be undone.

 © Ken Rookes 2013