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Softly, poppies fall.
Silence falls.
Falls with them.
Only it’s not silence
if silence is an absence of noise.

There’s still sound:
dull gentle noise
of traffic outside,
creak of pew, building, gate, old bones…
sounds of breathing of those in respect.

In a quiet corner
of a busy junction
a plain stone,
pansies planted along in front
now mingled with little crosses.

Some names,
many names.
Never *just* names.
Some with photos too
giving away the reality of lives
frozen at 17.

The infantry families
quietly stand.
The noise of their silence – ours –
is a caught breath,
is a stifled sniff, a sigh
is a tear crackling as it falls on the service sheet.

Each breath,
each sigh,
each tear
held in, reflected in, represented in
each poppy which falls silently
– almost silently –
from the cathedral tower.

Softly they fall.
We watch, mesmerised.
Imaginations overlay the poppies
with snatched silent sepia stills of trenches,
of bodies, of boys;
with panoramic vistas of blue sky
highlighting row after row
after row
of white stones
standing to attention in the sun;
with dramatic – unnecessarily so? –
shots of beaches, of boats, of parachutes;
with the warm stone backdrop to the poppies
reflecting the colours of the desert.

And in each poppy I see
the face from a cross,
from a cherished and crumpled photo;
I see
the face of an Afghan child
from crisp digital portraits
taken by serving friends.

Those friends
also in silence.
Their silence – their absence
of usual noise, of fighting –
like Christmas Day in the trenches,
but no football here with the enemy,
only with children in the streets,
children caught up in war.

Their silence
the noise of the heat
of the insects
of the dust.

No poppies float softly down here.
Poppies here part of the present
more than the past.
The same symbol we hold to peace,
to hope,
here, still, finds and incites violence.

Poignant reminder of the present
as we watch them fall

In the almost silence
each poppy
carries the silent soundtrack
“man down”
which echoes
and echoes.

Each poppy a life lived –
lost – barely lived.

Each poppy serving personnel,
each poppy one who came home damaged in any, every way –
those images, those soundtracks plaguing their own silence,
each poppy each friend and family
hoping and praying for safe returns,
each poppy each victim near and far,
each poppy each silent tear of God
for his children lost and hurting,
each silence,
each poppy,
each memory,
each re-members
    lest we forget.


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I’m not a fan of boxes, regular readers and friends know this. So I also found the challenge of losing the identifiers which Tom responded to quite an interesting thought. So here you go…

Look around –
gathering prayer
light falls,
plays from the window,
flickers, dances
to the movement.

Sense heightens,
expectancy mounts,
hearts open to meeting Love.

Bowed heads,
beaming smiles,
nodded hellos;

children greeted,
visitor welcomed,
gentle guidance given.

Look around –
see the cares
checked at the door,
for later retrieval,
when maybe, just maybe
they’ll weigh a little less.

some cares – people –
not checked,
brought, on hearts,
on prayer cards,
in thoughts and hopes and prayers
offered up to God
in worship,
with selves.

Look around –
focus shifts

from many
to one;
one body,
because we all share…

Look around –

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Luke 10.38-42

Another View


It is easy, I think, to identify  most usually with Martha, in the “just one more” activities of life – ‘just one more chapter before bed’ or ‘just one more game of patience or level of some tactical computer game’ and suddenly the clock has speeded round to some time you didn’t think it could possibly be. Or perhaps it’s not for pure amusement but for procrastination – I’ll ‘just do something before the washing up’; occasionally it’s a trade off of least worst – I’ll ‘just do the ironing before the…cleaning of the bathroom’, or as a colleague said the other day ‘anything at all to avoid filling in the Church of England statistics returns. Whichever, for people busy with work and jobs to do, however busy they already are, ‘just one less’ doesn’t seem to be quite as an attractive an option, even though it should be.

Then again, others – perhaps many here – might identify with Martha’s business because house-pride and hospitality are big things. If guests come, there is always food offered, cake or pie, weary visitors offered all they need to rest and refresh. It’s totally understandable that Martha might fret about having everything prepared for Jesus’ visit, and also about knowing more hands made light work and that if Mary helped just a little, then they might both be able to go and sit at his feet faster.

A friend of mine preached on this passage last time it came round, and he said that he thought more…

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Love was his meaning
     through everything he went
Love was his meaning
     why he – and we – are sent

each silent scream
each baby bird
each diagnosis, prognosis, telling shake of head

each purple dawn
each broken heart
each blowsy, perfumed bloom

each head-down, screen-focussed commuter
each wide-eyed, scene-devouring child

each mind, closed or clouded
     by pain or hurt
each mind, open or hungry
     to see and heal that hurt

Love was his meaning

in fears
in tears

in tiny curling fingers
     (or paws) and teeny toes
in air where distrust lingers
     fizzing twixt long-sworn foes

Love was his meaning

in the first gasp of air
     accompanied by joy
in the last gasps of air
     surrounded by sorrow

Love was his meaning

on lovers
on widows

on soldiers
on orphans

on consultants, professors and presidents
on janitors and sweeps

on harassed mums
on quiet nuns

on those who follow
     those who seek
     those who wander
     those who ponder

Love looks.

Love reaches out
     to touch
     or just to near

a breath caught
a scent almost sensed
a movement of air
an embrace from nowhere

Love was his meaning
     – why he’s everywhere.

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Reading: Isaiah 49:8-13

Reflection (Music: Ruth Elaine Schram, Waiting for Emmanuel)

Reading: Luke 1:26-31

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After writing ‘Elizabeth‘ last year, I have finished a series of further reflections for Advent. They’ll be coming up here throughout Advent (possibly with audio). I’m using them set against music from Ruth Schram.

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It’s been a couple of days now,
I’ve not wanted
to say anything yet.
I suppose
I’m still trying to work out
what I think.
Obviously I’m thrilled.
It is him
and it’s amazing more…

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follows ‘It is time

Oh God,
What have I done?
What have I given you over to?
I know it was part of the plan –
it had to be someone;
but oh my God –
what have I done? more…

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No, not a[nother] sighing comment about Ethels and Audreys, but the opening section of my third portfolio piece, looking at (the essay part) whether the expectations we have of a priest are underlined or challenged by how they dress and whether these affirmations or challenges are positive and constructive or damaging and dangerous.

“Morning Father.”

So simple.
So loaded.

I’ll never be ‘Father’
and would I want to be?

What does it mean?
represent? more…

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so elusive,
when you need words
they’re almost never there.

Sometimes more…

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