A message for those who are frightened,

A message for those who are frightened,
worried, and wondering what on earth
God is doing. 

When hope has been pared back
until it is the thinnest of twig
and the powers, vile and uncaring
have captured almost everything that is good
or of beauty;
when sweetness cloys and overwhelms,
and relief may no longer be found;
when justice has become elusive,
truth, a refugee,
and compassion, never particularly popular,
has become decidedly unfashionable;
when fellowship fails,
loneliness wails, and prayer
is met with silence;
it is at times such as these
that these pictures dance with life.
The new Jerusalem with the Lamb
shining his glorious light upon the nations;
the river of the water of life,
springing from God’s throne
and flowing crystal clear through the city;
the tree of life with its healing leaves;
and the worship,
ah, the worship!
 

© Ken Rookes

Lydia

Purple cloth for the wealthy.
The dyes, extracted from molluscs
and blended from different species
to give the desired shade. 
 
An expensive commodity
which must have brought a tidy
income to those who dealt in it.
Lydia presumably was not short of a quid.
 
Perhaps she wore it herself,
the colour deep and rich; speaking
of comfort, royalty and power.
You could lose yourself in purple.
 
But when the apostle spoke of the king
dressed in the purple of mockery
and dying in poverty and shame,
Lydia knew.
 
Even the deepest hue fades,
leaving only memories and yearnings.
With joy she receives his colours, fast,
and with a rainbow of unexpected intensity.
 
© Ken Rookes

Bethzatha

John 5:1-9

They say that when the angel
messenger from God
disturbs the water in the pool
the healing comes.
The odds are long for a cripple;
for nearly forty years I waited,
coming daily more from habit than hope.
Flawed comrades, we sprawled,
stiff-limbed, twisted.
We swapped yarns; pushing time
around our plates like an double serving
of an unwelcome vegetable.
We waited for a swirl or ripple;
the word to start the race.
Salvation: the prize for the fortunate few
who make the splash
ahead of their companions.

In many despairing interludes
I would ponder the cruel lottery
that God plays with the wretched.
The pool was a long shot,
but we knew no other game;
my place was among the desperate,
waiting my turn to throw the dice.
Struggling alone, I sometimes got wet,
but never healed.

On that Sabbath day,
when the Galilean showed up,
asking his questions
and breaking the rules, 
he troubled more than a pool of water.
There he was, offering odds
to cheer the heart of any mug punter. 
I looked up, hardly daring to believe,
did my sums, knew I couldn’t lose;
and walked.

© Ken Rookes

Anzac Day

On that sacred day
our family would drive
up the Princes Highway
to West Footscray.
Having met George
and his family, we proceeded to the city.
There we farewelled the men
and fiddled with our flags
as we waited on the footpath.
The march began with old soldiers
in proud uniforms riding horses,
and a few driven in cars;
perhaps they’d been wounded.
Among the thousands of men
would be a few groups of women;
nurses, my mother would explain.
We loved the marching bands,
especially the bagpipes,
and the bass drums;
beaters twirling in steady rhythm
to provide a familiar pattern
for once-practised feet.
All the men in the city
seemed to be marching,
as we waited on tired legs
for our mothers to identify
the strange blue banner.
We hoped to glimpse
our silent hero fathers
as the ranks paraded past
in solemn celebration of the lost:
the years,
the comrades,
and the innocence.
© Ken Rookes