We wailed and you did not mourn

The truth, so called,
has become difficult to grasp,
perhaps impossible.
We make do with what we know;
on occasions we remind ourselves
that there may be much more to it
than we can ever conceive.

We hear distant strains,
with rhythms that call to us.
We hesitate, uncertain
of what is being asked,
and frightened.
We choose not to dance.

We hear groanings,
inconvenient cries
of abandonment and despair.
We are comforted by their distance,
having banished then from our presence.
We cover the sounds quickly
with clever choruses of pleasant songs.

The wails recede;
but refuse to be silent.
They persist to disturb and frighten.
We begin to wonder if, perhaps,
the suffering might be greater
than we can conceive;
but we still choose not to mourn.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Welcoming Jesus

In those years
when we moved in evangelical circles
we welcomed Jesus into our hearts
by invitation,
being careful to get the formula correct.
This, we were assured,
would see us transformed,
by grace, into sons and daughters of God,
and ensure our entitlement to a place in heaven.
It didn’t make us disciples;
that may or may not have come later,
perhaps as a consequence.

It’s an uncertain metaphor;
making Jesus welcome.
There he is, knocking on Holman Hunt’s
weed-locked door with his lantern glowing
in the darkness.
Open your heart, let him in.
Simple, really.

The cup of cold water
suggests a different welcoming.
Open your heart to the thirsty, the hungry
the struggling, the distressed,
the poor and the wretched.
Stand with courage to denounce evil
and oppose the unjust.
Repudiate the false idols
of wealth, comfort and power.
Give yourself, be a disciple,
create hope, make peace, do love;
that’s where the welcoming gets serious.

© Ken Rookes 2014


The literalists pedal frantically backwards
with explanatory excuses,
but fail to justify the misogynist cruelty
of the Hagar story.
The great Patriarch’s wife
is portrayed as complicit in the abuse,
even the initiator;
it compounds the betrayal.

The girl is a slave, property
of an aged and desperate couple.
She is a foreigner,
with none to look out for her interests.
Her body is not her own, nor her fertility;
it is theirs to do what they like,
and they do.

Hagar gives birth to the child of hope,
and then, when circumstances change,
out of jealousy and fear they cast the girl aside;
her child too, driven out into the wilderness.
Somehow they survive.
The Patriarch’s god, we are told,
tacitly approves of the ill-treatment,
having promised to fix things up in the end.

Not one of his better moments.

© Ken Rookes 2014


In the fabled first Genesis account
of the formation of the universe,
(six days of divine activity,
resting on the seventh), creation
was enthusiastically declared, “good!”
by the plural yet singular god
designated as creator.
Towards the end of the story
the divine handiwork was entrusted
to the recently instituted humankind;
along with the injunctions
to be fruitful and multiply,
and to fill the earth and subdue it.
We proved to be adept at all those things.
The subjugation of the planet
and the exploitation of its resources
(including its peoples),
were found to be particularly profitable;
especially the conquering, digging, blasting,
scooping, drilling, felling, clearing, refining,
selling, trading and dominating.
Less easy, and politically problematic,
was the task of maintaining creation
in its beauty, hope and goodness
for the benefit of all humankind;
not to mention the bees and the frogs.

© Ken Rookes 2014


The essential otherness,

named by many as God,

having been credited

with the creative endeavour, generosity and love

out of which the planet is born and renewed,

once breathed life into the nostrils

of a figure sculpted from earth’s dust;

or so the ancient story tells us.

A man called Jesus,

sometimes designated child of God

and touched wildly by the spirit,

once re-enacted that mythical event;

at least according to another,

slightly less-ancient, narrative.

Coming unexpectedly

among a group of frightened and uncertain friends, 

he pursed his lips and blew gently

upon their puzzled faces

with his spirit-breath invitation:

to live generously,

to love with passion, and,

drawing upon their reserves

of courage, grace and vulnerability,

to address the planet’s plaintive plea

for justice, hope and peace.


Or to at least make a start.



© Ken Rookes 2014