POEMS/LYRICS

A WOODEN CROSS, SO CHERISHLY HONED (...AND I BELIEVE)

Jim's Cross

My dear brother Jim Deeds gifted me this beautiful rosewood holding cross. I had caught Jim doing a Facebook Live from his carving shed where he carefully works wood into beautiful things. I had commented on the wonder of this one and Jim being Jim later arrived at more door with it as a gift.

I am not sure Jim realised how spiritually significant it was. I have not been on full power these last few weeks and this little cross was more than a tonic for the troops. 

It reminded me of this poem and I have re-written aline or two to include Jim's cross. Every cross I see brings a refreshment to my soul. It is powerfully mysterious how it impacts me deep within.

So I wrote this back in the early 90s. There are nods to the CS Lewis film Shadowlands, Bruce Cockburn’s Southlands Of The Heart and Lies Damned Lies The Next Life. My friends Stuart McCrea, Nigel Reid and James Small turns dit into a song with their band Horsey Morgan.

Thank you Jim...

 

When you feel you are always one step behind

You’re arriving for the just departed train

When the slowest car on the road, it seems

Is at the end of the passing lane

Two twigs entwined

By a piece of string

Puts perspective on everything

And I believe

Yes, I believe.

 

When life doesn’t have to, but it still does

And you forget the beauty of her face

When the golden valley is shrouded in mist

And imagination is all laid to waste

The sweetest taste

Of bread and wine

Says a better day is mine

And I believe

Yes, I believe.

 

When the prickly thorns of the truth

Are sharper than the smell of the rose

Weeds strangle all the flowers of hope

When God only knows

A carved wooden cross

So cherishly honed

Tells my soul I am not alone

And I believe

Yes, I believe.


GOD IS LOVE

Love Cosmos

GOD IS LOVE

Stop

Say it again

GOD

IS 

LOVE

Forgive your familiarity

Crack the cliche open

Attend to the wonder

The size of it

Hear the words

And listen

Listen 

Deep down

Be awestruck

The marvellous mystery

The spectacular magnificence

The Cinematic imaginings

Of the Creator and Sustainer

Of the Cosmos 

Cramming it

Every minuscule quark

With astronomical grace.

 

The words of wonder 

Became flesh…

 

GOD IS LOVE

We love

Because 

God first loved us

Love is a force

That draws in  

The spinning broken pieces 

Of our world

Our relationships

And ourselves

Love is always mending

Love is never ending

Love is ever sending

The loved 

To love

GOD IS LOVE

So love.


STORIES ARE LIKE EUCHARIST

Breaking Bread

 

Damian Gorman says

Stories are like Eucharist

Broken apart

To feed others

 

But maybe I surmised

Stories can be like nails

Dangerously sharpened

And hammered in to others

 

Beware of the stories we tell

Stories can save

Stories can crucify.

 

Damian Gorman says

Stories are like Eucharist

Broken apart

To feed to others.

 

Damian Gorman is performing his poetry and words at the 4 Corners Festival 2021 at Breathe Out 7.30 on Sunday February 7th, 2021. Register at https://4cornersfestival.com


WINTER TREES

Winter Trees JGS

(photo: Janice Stockman (not Murlough Bay))

 

Winter trees on a north coast headland

That drops into Murlough Bay

Asking mystical questions

With  the serenity of their gentle sway

And I'm fascinated by the mystery

Did God peer down then bending

Pencil sketch them in the cloak of darkness

Or the distraction of the sun descending

They are so skilfully shaped like dancers

So brilliantly and beautifully bent

And I’m sure there ain’t no short cut

But a long slow consistent dent

And what of my life landscape

Do I stand there the shape of intrigue

Evidence of what can’t be seen

Like these winter trees?

 

I wrote this one afternoon at one of our favourite north coast haunts; Murlough Bay.

Being winter the trees stood out. Without their leaves, they looked like little sketches. I imagined their shaping by the wind off the sea, years in the sculpting. I think that an album by County Antrim singer Bob Speers called Northland was inspiring me. I think I also might have lost the run of myself and considered being influenced by Seamus Heaney!

I had the privilege of joining it up with a lovely song by Sam Hill called Listen To the Breeze and it went on our album under the moniker Stevenson and Samuel called Grace Notes

The preacher in me then started surmising my own life and how the powerful wind of Holy Spirit was shaping me by the long consistent blowing across my life - "evidence of what can't be seen".

At this time of year, every time we are out walking with Jed, I seek out that evidence. 


WAITING (GOD IS GRADUAL)

The Waiting

"The waiting is the hardest part" - Tom Petty

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope" - Psalm 130:5

 

Waiting for the appointment

Waiting for a bed

Waiting for the test results

Waiting in my head

 

Waiting for the calendar 

Waiting for the plane to depart

Waiting for the arrivals’ door

Waiting in my heart

 

Waiting for an update

Waiting restrictions lifted

Waiting for a vaccine

Waiting in unprecedented.

 

Waiting for apocalypse

Waiting for my role

Waiting for an answer

Waiting in my soul

 

Waiting for an update

Waiting restrictions lifted

Waiting for a vaccine

Waiting in unprecedented.

 

World is instant

Patience unusual

In the waiting

Emmanuel

God is great

But God is gradual

In the waiting

Emmanuel


DEEP NOVEMBER BLUE (Missing You)

November Blue

I struggle through November. I resign every year. It's as dark as December without the hope of Christmas. Add to that - Coronavirus times. This began when my daughter Jasmine couldn't get home for a weekend due to a lockdown. It turned into a simple little pop song lyric. Big selling pop stars, knock yourselves out…

 

November blue, your longer nights

Even mild days feel much colder

Every year I want to resign

Like my body feels years older 

 

Yeh I’m missing you

Should be kissing you

But its deep dark November blue 

But I’m missing you

Should be kissing you

But it’s deep dark November blue

 

 

November blue, your cloudless dark

Stars like frostlets in the skies

I can see my breathing out again

And hear the echo of my sighs

 

Yeh I’m missing you

Should be kissing you

But its deep dark November blue 

But I’m missing you

Should be kissing you

But it’s deep dark November blue

 

I hear your voice

But you’re not here

I see your face

But you’re not near

In deep dark November blue

Sweetest girl I’m missing you


FRIDAY THE 13th...

Stocki Fri 13th

Photo: Gordon Ashbridge: my installation in Fitzroy, Friday the 13th of November 2009

 

Today is Friday the 13th. Some are superstitious. When I started visiting in the Ballycraigy estate in Antrim during my assistantship in First Antrim I kept missing houses and then realised that the entire estate had no number 13s! 

The following poem was originally written on a Mission Team where we felt that God had blown away any superstitions! 

I then preached for Fitzroy on Sunday 13th of September 2009 and was installed on Friday 13th of November. I updated the poem. It was a Friday the 13th blessing...

 

Friday the 13th

Superstition lies dying

Overthrown and vanquished

Hear it, feebly crying

The unbelievable made believable

What can never be has been

Our spirits dance in wonder

At the phenomena we've seen

Exploring galaxies of grammar

In a quest to pierce through

To define the indefinable

The transcendence of you

In a shiveree of silence

On this earth's thinnest place

Friday the 13th's blessing

An interuption of grace.


WAR IS OVER (DID WE WIN)

 

It has been a bit of a tradition that my good friend Martyn Joseph always played Belfast in the first week in November. It was the juxtaposition of one of those gigs and Remembrance Sunday that led to me writing the lyrics to this.

If I remember it right Martyn mentioned a new world beginning. In Martyn's catalogue of songs that is not hard to imagine. He is a songwriter who kicks at the darkness until it bleeds daylight, to paraphrase another such singer, Bruce Cockburn. Martyn never shies away from the despair of our world but somehow hope and love and peace always win by the time he walks off stage. 

So, Martyn's words started to blend in my mind with Remembrance Day and our Sunday morning act of Remembrance in Fitzroy.

I am struck every Remembrance Sunday that I am remembering those in their late teens who sat in the same building and pews that we are today, then went off to war and never came back.

I always see the late teens who sit in those pews now, think of the pastor's love I have for them, and imagine if I had to pray them off to war, or hear the news they had died at the Somme or had to pray at some funeral service for them. I actually am doing just that for those Fitzroy teens who went to war back then.

So, all this in my head and heart and soul I wrote this and had the idea that one of our teens might make it a song and sing it on Sunday... to give voice to his Fitzroy equivalent in 1914... queue the talented Jonny Fitch. 

 


YOUR LAST RESORT (for Janice)

Janice and me in hand

I remembered this poem this past week. 

I wrote it for Janice when we were just good friends! As I remember it, quite a while before we started going out. 

The back story is that Janice and I were good friends for years before we started looking at each other in a romantic way.

Now, I always thought she was beautiful... and good looking too... but it took a long time to see us as an us. 

This was written as a commitment to friendship, nothing more... I know... even I wonder if there was more going on in it than I knew at the time.

I share it now because I believe that we all need last resorts just now. Commitments to friendship. I am so glad that I got to be Janice's last resort, quite literally!

 

If everyone betrays you

They hurt you and deceive you

If every one is called away

And friends all seem to leave you

If there's no one there to talk to

And no one to escort 

If there's no one left to love you

I'll be your last resort.

 


PRAYER FOR AMERICA ON ELECTION DAY

Statue Of Liberty

I was captured by James K.A. Smith's idea that we are not so much what we believe as what we love. The heart not the mind is a key for all spiritual and social behaviour. Christians have put a great emphasis on the mind (not wrongly) but if the heart is the real driver and is captured by different things then the mind may be well thought through to no avail! 

When we all vote, and it is America's turn today then I fear that our beliefs give way to what our own selfish desires, comforts and securities. I pray that belief and love would line up today...

 

Like the lady in the harbour

Vote for her torch of light

For that brave New Colossus

All the huddled masses in flight

For all the tired and weary

In the darkest part of night

For all that Jesus called blessed

I pray that you do what's right.

 

Don’t vote for what you love

But for what you say you believe

Don’t vote for you yourself alone

But for every soul longing to breathe.