He came, walking towards them.

Haiku for those who sink.

He sent them ahead
by boat, to the other side.
The crowd was dismissed

Seeking solitude,
he ascended the mountain
to pray and reflect.

Out upon the lake
his friends battled wind and waves,
a long way from home.

In this strange story
he came ghost-like at morning,
caused them much alarm.

The reports tell us
that he walked across the lake.
Fear not! It is I!

Stranger still, a man
steps from the boat to join him;
does all right; at first.

Beginning to sink,
he cries in fear: Lord, save me!
Jesus takes his hand.

Is this an image
of baptism, of drowning
and rising to life?

Like the little boat
we are battered by the waves,
far from land and hope.

The waves engulf us;
We are fearful and we doubt.
Jesus, take our hand!


© Ken Rookes 2017


The hour has come

Haiku to unite a people.

The hour has come;
things move inexorably
to their conclusion.

Jesus’ work is done.
Just one last task before him;
shouldn’t be too hard.

We struggle to grasp:
the Son will be glorified
as he meets his death.

Receiving God’s word,
he opened it to his friends,
sharing the wonder.

Touched by divine grace
he speaks of life eternal:
communion with God.

He prays for his friends,
knowing he must soon depart,
leaves them in God’s care.

Father, keep them safe
beyond this hour. Unite them;
ground them in your love.


© Ken Rookes 2017

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



Six and a half decades ago
a cloud hung horrible
before finally distributing Hiroshima’s toxic dust,
Nagasaki’s too, between the four winds
who dutifully dispersed it
among the planet’s oceans,
forests and deserts and cities.
Violence is not so easily eliminated,
its half-life is long;
the ghost-cloud of cruelty lingers
and extends with each season
of corruption and war.

The ghost-cloud continues its cold journey
drawing earth’s violent excesses
and storing them in cavernous shelves:
the smoke from death ovens,
the cries of the tortured,
the wails of women brutalised,
of children abused,
the scandal of holy wars and crusades.
The ghost-cloud feeds upon misery.
Gloating, it mocks good people,
and gives succour to the powers of darkness.

Only defiant prayings,
Yearnings, weepings and seekings
seem to diminish the cloud’s shadow.
These, along with occasional acts
of kindness, grace and peace, ascend
to erode the cloud at its edges,
and to bring hope.

Ken Rookes.
Looking to Hiroshima Day on Monday.

Responding to heinous crimes

The tragic abuse inflicted upon thousands of children and their families by leaders within the Catholic Church calls for a response that the church seems incapable of taking. Perhaps the telling of the terrible story in the enquiry just announced by the Victorian Government might prompt some new thinking

If I were a Catholic I would feel profound shame at the betrayal by my church’s leadership. This betrayal involves both those who committed the crimes, and those who used their power to protect them, enabling them, in many cases, to continue to rape and injure children.

The leaders of the Catholic Church should immediately declare a decade of lamentation and repentance, during which they would lead their people in praying for victims and their families, seek that the perpetrators of these crimes be brought to justice, and lament the failure of leadership and the betrayal of the gospel.

Even a decade may not be long enough. The time needs to drag like a great weight, reminding the church of the unrelenting pain of those who suffer because of the crimes committed in its name.

A decade into the process the church might then begin to ask difficult questions about its life and witness. Having destroyed any credibility it once had in moral leadership, it needs to determine how it can best be a truly loving and healing community, what its gospel message should be, and what might need to be discarded as no longer being of use.

It might even decide to enter more fully into the life of Jesus by allowing itself to die in order that the Spirit might give birth to something truly new. Facing death calls for vision and courage, but when sacrifice is valued ahead of preservation, then we will know that Jesus and his message are being served.

(I feel a bit presumptuous writing this, but some might find it helpful)