Ox-faced Luke: a poem for St Luke’s Day

44231259_10217343419320451_8457308505865453568_nOx-faced Luke,
his gospel yoked
to that load bearing
beast of burden
ploughing on
through life’s muddied field

Ox-bowed Luke,
his gospel bulging
muscle of sacrifice
for the lost, the poor
and stranger still
their inheritance of earth

 

Luke, author of the third gospel, is often symbolised by a winged ox, one of the “four living creatures” of Ezekiel 1 (and Revelation 4). The ox represents domesticated animals. Symbols for the other evangelists are: (m)an(gel) for Matthew, lion for Mark and eagle for John.

 

First Steps

The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
Proverbs 4:18

Who knows where first steps lead?
We feel our way through death’s vale,
beyond the pale to dark corners,
blind alleys, a way hardly taken,
through dark nights of the soul.
This is the path of the righteous,
the path of Missio Dei,
the path of light to dawn.

Punctuating the night

Waking in the middle of the night,
say, midway between lying and rising,
just then, is not always curse and cue
for raking old worries to no effect.

just sometimes we awake with a blessing,
precious memories shine our consciousness:
not one, but two lights beam in darkness,
a colon before rest.

where do they come from? they travel far
but arrive fresh. they head straight for me
because only I will know the pair they are.
they come for me, a blessing, a colon before rest.

both were recalls of what was barely
registered at the time of their birth.
one a scholar defining remembrance of Him:
the other, of trouble taken to meet

a paedophile prisoner released
from his sentence. the one the very point
of the other, remembering a man lost
in the darkness of our collective sleep.

After the colon comes the sense, the blessing.
There are some things only we will know,
only alight when they come to see us,
treasure to take us to rest of night.

Patara Beach

Patara

On this beach sound and sand we lay ourselves to rest:
an annual punctuation, a colon and breathing space,
kindling and basking delighted by overlapping waves
of welcome: a silver thread in tiredness’ tapestry.

Tourists and turtles take their turns digging to cool sand
for new generation; young engineers make their marks
and build playful fortifications without calculation,
fear or hope of castles not withstanding nature’s storms.

Backed by wholesome sun I chase my shadow along the shore.
The load lightens. My trace disappears. Crabs sidle home.
A stranger nods a Merhaba in my direction looking out
another place and pace: life less dash or need for colon.

A far cry comes from the harbour, long silted and stranded
in history and imagination. “Phoenicia bound?”,
the ship’s master’s call to those piering their next purpose
and horizon, and those otherwise beached and bedraggled.

Luke, a passenger, packs a gospel for this new ark
with his two by twos, his hims and hers, his young and old,
his Jew and Greek, and Paul, his complementary pair embark,
Turks off Patara beach, where the sun shines after storms.

PS. References:
Merhaba is the Turkish greeting “hello”.
Luke and Paul changed ships at Patara.

And so, with the tearful good-byes behind us, we were on our way. We made a straight run to Cos, the next day reached Rhodes, and then Patara. There we found a ship going direct to Phoenicia, got on board, and set sail. Cyprus came into view on our left, but was soon out of sight as we kept on course for Syria, and eventually docked in the port of Tyre. While the cargo was being unloaded, we looked up the local disciples and stayed with them seven days. (Acts 21:1ff)