Seven Stanzas At Easter

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.
John Updike

…and the darkness did not overcome the Light

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Jesus’ trial happened at night. The murky darkness is illuminated by a candle; and, more than ever, by the presence of the still figure.  He is the source of light – when the candle has burnt out, his light will remain. His stillness dominates: without words he overcomes the High Priest and his pointing finger…  I look at his hands     crossed;     at his face         marvel at the serenity.
‘Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death; Victory is ours through Him who loves us’   – Desmond Tutu

“In this conflict with conventional religion, Jesus’ silence ought to give all religious people pause for thought about our confident judgements of right and wrong. It is so easy to misuse scripture, as is shown in this picture in which confident judgement is made by an open book.” (Rowan Williams)

The Fragrance of Love

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The scent of Mary’s nard lingers down the centuries, a glorious sweetness, both of giver and of perfume.  Only her hair, her crowning glory, was soft enough to wipe those feet in adoration…
Something awaking in her soul, the profound understanding (in that singing height beyond words) of this Son of God.   Son.   of God.     The bursting, impossible joy of knowing…   Nothing is now finite…   near-silence stretches into eternity… and there comes awareness that THIS is the Awaking, this is the heaven of all our searching.

and that will be heaven
and that will be heaven
at last    the first unclouded
seeing
to stand like the sunflower
turned full face to the sun        drenched
with light    in the still centre
held    while the circling planets
hum with an utter joy
seeing and knowing
at last   in every particle
seen and known  and not turning
away
never turning away
again      Evangeline Paterson

The picture is Stanley Spencer ‘The Awaking’

The Call

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From our low seat beside the fire
Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow
Or raked the ashes, stopping so
We scarcely saw the sun or rain
Above, or looked much higher
Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire.
Tonight we heard a call,
A rattle on the window pane,
A voice on the sharp air,
And felt a breath stirring our hair,
A flame within us: Something swift and tall
Swept in and out and that was all.
Was it a bright or a dark angel? Who can know?
It left no mark upon the snow,
But suddenly it snapped the chain
Unbarred, flung wide the door
Which will not shut again;
And so we cannot sit here any more.
We must arise and go:
The world is cold without
And dark and hedged about
With mystery and enmity and doubt,
But we must go
Though yet we do not know
Who called, or what marks we shall leave upon the snow.

Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)

Lent is a tree without blossom…

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 Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,
barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep
all unadorned.  Unlike Christmas which decrees
the setting-up, the dressing-up of trees
Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,
A starkness after all has been withdrawn
of surplus, and superfluous
leaving no hiding-place, only an emptiness
between black branches, a most precious space
before the leaf, before the time of flowers;
Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,

Lest we should miss the stars.
Jean M Watt