But we had hoped

He wove skilfully his stories,
cleverly fashioning those tricky endings,
unexpectedly sharp and sticky,
that squeezed themselves through
religion’s carefully crafted defences,
and made us all squirm.

After a time we began, in small ways,
to catch on.
Just glimpses at first,
and then, something more,
remote but shining,
the merest of possibilities.

With every tale of forgiveness,
every word of grace and love,
and every hand reached out
in friendship and welcome,
it swelled into a nearly graspable thing
that we called hope.

Hope in the divine one’s goodness.
Hope that the world might be renewed.
Hope that freedom will be born,
justice might prevail and that peace should reign.
Hope that fighting would stop,
that fear might be vanquished,

and that the final word be love.

But we had hoped.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Disciples of the outer-circle

Let me join you, Thomas,
out here in the outer-circle of disciples;
along with other questioners and doubters.
Here I shall make my home among those
for whom creedal recitations
and orthodox affirmations
seem increasingly less relevant.
(Discipleship, we all know, has only one test.)
Our wonderings will be loud,
and our speculations wild and free;
none shall be offended,
perhaps not even God.
In our outer-circle orbit,
always at risk,
we will repeat the stories and tell new ones,
and do our best to love into reality
the kingdom of which the Master spoke.
Defying the sadness and the fear
we will announce in word and deed
the mysterious presence of He who died.
I like to think that we would do so
even if the tomb had not been emptied;
and, if, one day,
the Master’s earthly remains were to be found,
it would make no difference.

© Ken Rookes, 2014

All they could do

All they could do,
the gospel writers, and those
who crafted the stories before them
was to grope in wonder after some words.
Words to convey even a shining edge
of the full mystery. So they wrote of angels
shimmering with white, and an earthquake
that shook the very foundations of both earth
and heaven; and of the surprise
of a disappearing man who could not be grasped
but who was strangely with them still.
Of the impossibly empty space that death
had once occupied. They told of a stone,
the removal of which would have required a forklift,
that had apparently been flicked away
by a divine finger. They wrote of unsurpassed joy
and of hope that had been conjured ex nihilo.
They told of embracings, of illuminating journeys
and intimate dinings, of unexpected recognitions
and equally bewildering disappearances.
Their stories included the elements of honest fear,
uncertainty, and disbelief;
as if to underline the wonder.
One who they had loved,
in whom the Divine One appeared to dwell,
and who, they all attested, had been killed;
was somehow present. Living. Decades on.
All they could do was grope
in the diminished darkness, and hope
to find some words.

© Ken Rookes

Good Friday shame

On the first Good Friday,
so named some years later by people of faith;
the darkness was faced and defied;
and, in the days following, banished.
Well, not quite.
But a candle glimmer was ignited,
a hopeful something
that later torrents of blackness
have never quite extinguished.
Otherwise women and men of faith
could never have survived.
Not the shame of religious wars,
diverse conquests and killing fields,
or clerical abuse of children.
And certainly not
the off-shore detention camps
where human suffering and despair
are made the wretched by-product
of the vile and fearful politics
practised by some for whom Good Friday
pretends to be a sacred day.
And still women and men of faith survive
to maintain their outrageous claim:
that the darkness has somehow been diminished,
at least a little.

© Ken Rookes 2014



The prophet had him riding a donkey,
so, too, the gospel writers.
A sign, they say,
of his humility,
that he was a normal bloke,
like the rest of us.
The god-man,
entering the city in triumph
on the back of an ass.
If he came today,
in triumph or otherwise,
perhaps he might look beyond
the donkey.
Just maybe
he might employ
the pantomime horse;
in recognition of all the human madness,.
and the apparent foolishness
of this strange divine plan.
Jesus the clown;
he’d laugh at himself,
choosing the rear end,
making Peter or James take the head.
Look, here is your God,
laugh at him / her;
and learn to laugh at yourselves
while you are at it.
in laughter there are also tears;
in laughter there is truth.

© Ken Rookes 2014