Barbara Messner, Associate Priest in the Parish of Stirling, South Australia, writes this of her poem for this week … “St. Michael and All Angels is the patronal festival for Bridgewater, hence this week’s poem: it helped me explore something important about my spiritual story, so perhaps it will strike a chord with someone else.”
If you ask me if I’ve seen an angel,
I’m not sure what you’ll make of my answer:
I have seen a great wing in the heavens
with light gilding the arc of its feathers;
though I knew it was cloud, yet the message
was as clear to my heart as if spoken:
“In your grieving, fear not, God is with you.”
I’ve no doubt that to people beside me
not a hint of an angel was noted,
but I felt as though graced by the sacred:
as I flew to that tender departing,
the last day of Dad’s battle with cancer,
I was held by that vision of feathers,
lifting grief into meaning that changed me.
Then I knew that my father had entered
a new life co-existing with this one,
and the veil that had come down between us
was much thinner than I had imagined:
for a time, he seemed able to reach us,
share his love and the gift of his humour
so that laughing was mixed with our weeping.
What began with the wing of an angel
wakened some different knowing within me,
so I recognized something was calling,
and said, “Yes!” with no clear destination:
then my grieving set spurs to my searching,
as I longed for that sense of unveiling
of the kingdom of heaven so near me.
Now I think that an angel did visit,
setting me on this ministry journey,
and I write of the grace and the mystery
of the God who is present in suffering,
and in joy and in laughter and questions,
for I know there are messengers calling
if we’re brought to a thin place to listen.
I had already planned to publish an earlier poem of Barbara’s which speaks on so many levels for our care for creation.
Fruit of the Forest
First nation wisdom knows this:
our souls are linked to country,
We don’t admit dependence –
it interferes with profits,
but when the air’s polluted,
our breathing in is hampered,
and when the trees are shedding,
our throats are dry and thirsty.
What harms the forest hurts us –
it isn’t only covid
that skips between the species.
There’s one of Jesus’ sayings:
“No good tree brings forth bad fruit”.
The blessing or the poison
arises from our nature –
figs fragrant on a fig tree,
black fruit on deadly nightshade.
The harvesting of evil
will work its harm in tasting.
It’s from the heart’s abundance
that mouths are graced with speaking.
The elder from the forest
says trees will watch and listen.
They touch the sky through ages
of growth slow shaped by seasons
that we ignore by rushing.
The wise one tries to warn us
that killing trees or grasses
will manifest in soreness
in our too heedless bodies,
but if attuned to growing
who knows what dreams may guide us?
When Spirit sparks on branches
the fire does not consume them,
but luminous, attracts us.
It bids us shed our sandals
and other human barriers
that keep us from earth knowing.
So kneeling on the mountain,
we hear the word of being
that calls us to connection.