Revisiting Talitha

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets
and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
See, your house is left to you.
And I tell you, you will not see me
until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’

I had scoffed at my wife when she spoke of aches and pains following her personal training sessions. Scoffed because my distance from fitness was not as clear to me as it perhaps should have been. As it transpired, I would have to take up some of her sessions as she was unavailable for a few weeks.

Confidently I strolled into the gym,  a slight tinge of fear but confidence none-the-less. Realistically I limped out the gym. Dripping sweat and shattered illusions in equal measure. The days since the end of the football season had quickly rolled into weeks and months and regardless of my regular swim sessions, whatever fitness I had was evidently no more. #R.I.P

My older brother told me a while back that you loose fitness faster than you gain it. Interesting thought eh! The task of maintaining fitness is less difficult than the task of gaining it. “No Pain No Gain’ the old saying goes. It had crept up behind the decisions driven by indiscipline.

What’s that got to do with Jerusalem?

A strange thing happens when a response gets turned into a ritual. The assumption over the outcome really affects the heart of the act and eventually even the vision of which the act is a response. Somewhere in the process of obedience to the law, in the turning to scriptures to discover more from them, the sight and sound of the living – active and moving – God whose Word dictated their deeds was replaced by the ritual itself. There he stood amongst them, unknown to them and lamenting their self blinkered hearts.

I suppose the days since the red sea; since the manna; since the walls of Jericho; those days had turned to centuries of sacrifices; incarnations of the temple; graceless hierarchies and worst of all, rules that drowned love.

Priests had become pharisees. Condemning instead of mediating. The watchmen became the evictors.

“Go” He said. With weighted measure we
Obeyed. With sword, bow and scepter our siege
We laid. In decadence we hewed out our footholds
In the foothills of grace’s dismay. With hands,
By architecture tainted, this earthen town we laid.
In thick steel our gates we made; their outward
Arrows sharp as gazes. So high the walls
We chose erect that the early breeze, once
Composed abated. The mighty streams, whom
Once in spring we bathed, in anxious zeal
Rose we and tamed; life we chained in hymns,
And winds to whom once in song we’d yield,
Chose we assail.

What’s freely given, if not valued is easily lost.

© Denis Adide 2015

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John 19:28-30

But am I thirsty?
Yearning for the cup of obedience,
For the sour wine of humility
And the salvation it brings?

Am I thirsty?
To endure with you and not to reign,
To stay faithful through the pain,
To praise in chains,
Or when blood stains my imperfect garments?

Am I thirsty?
Knowing that nothing else satisfies
No food for this desire,
Wood for this dying fire?
Or am I mourning my death while waiting
For it all to dry up!

No!

Give me thirst,
Give me hunger.
March me into the wilderness,
Into the desert where you are.

Give me stones
Destroy my thrones
Shake these bones and make me re-membered.

The beds are dry, the clouds long departed:
Dust reigns.

Give me thirst,
Give me the name to call
Give me the knees upon which to fall.

In deed I rage against mercy,
Refusing the first.
Oh Lord!

Give me thirst

© Denis Adide 2015

Before he dies Jesus drinks the ‘Cup’ after saying he thirsts. This the same cup he asks be taken away in Gethsemane. On the cross he thirsts. Is it a thirst for something to drink or is it a desire to be obedient even unto death: death on a cross. He desires to take upon himself the work of salvation.

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me”.

Lines composed while contemplating John 19:16-30

They were bare hands that sharp nails received
Bare lips that with a kiss revealed
Sealed with bare stone and silver a heart deceived.

Love seamless as His royal robe
Untouched but taken whole
Given whole.

And as they take your robes, you take mine.

Filthy rags.

I resist for a fear of shame
But you shame my fear by clothing me
Clothing me with that seamless love

I’m touched and overtaken whole
Given whole.

© Denis Adide 2015

One Stone!

Bones upon bones, upon bones, upon bones,
Strewn across the land
where swords unsheathed have sprouted –
are sprouting – like flowers

‘Not one stone will be left a top of another
all will be thrown down’

Blindness, upon the hour of thy visitation.

When the earth laments
it spews up limbs
like slowly dropping, stubborn, thick, viscous tears.

‘Not one stone.’

What, one stone?

These are not the dead
They are the dying
They are our dying
Covered in dust but refusing submersion

They are the flesh you ask us to leave
That with fine sinews cleave onto our resurrecting
emerging from our tarrying
unclothed and Spirit-less.

‘All will be thrown down’

Bones upon bones indeed,
Bones upon bones in need
Called away but staying slain
With spades harvesting the swords
Harvesting death from death.

‘Not one stone’

‘One Stone!’

© Denis Adide 2014

 

“Let the dead bury their own dead…”

 

Crown Him

May you always be set upon your throne
May you always be set upon mine –
This I say reluctantly
Urged on by my pride
(Did you set a king within me
or am I just in the ruins of my forefathers
from the loins of their forebear?) –
Set your place in my hearted furnaces
where my resilience reigns
and into whom I have cast
All desires for you,
To burn alongside the knowledge of the crown
that it – my desire – holds
while boldly proclaiming that you
(for whom long life is assured)
Should wear.

Walk among them so that I may see,
Unconsumed in the burning,
The hope that pokes at my stubborn heart
Shouting in its emptiness
for a kingdom and a king
it doesn’t want but desires.

Doesn’t want
But desires.

© Denis Adide 2014

Save

Wash over me: Baptise
Wash into me: Blood
Save!

Trembling as I approach the shores
Feet get wet
Tears fall

I see the doors I don’t let open
And him before them all: knocking
Patiently with those eyes of Love,

The Love I need but don’t want
The Love I need but don’t want

The Love I need but don’t want
For the pain through which
My healing and freedom will come.

Wash over me: Baptise
Wash into me: Blood.
Save!

Though art with me,
I will not fear,
I will tremble,
I will not be afraid.

© Denis Adide 2014

 

Bricks

Ephesians 1:3-6

“I thank God every time I remember you, In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with Joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”

I always struggled with the term “coming to faith”. In my case it seemed disingenuous. Faith in the Divine wasn’t this thing or place that I happened upon during the course of my life. On the contrary, Faith was at the centre of my life from a very young age. This, partly I think, can be attributed to the manner in which my parents and relatives expressed their faith. More poignant however, is the recognition within me of a knowledge of an ‘other’, the thing I now understand to be Love. It has been a constant hum in the background as life ebbed, whispering the songs of selfhood and identity throughout my childhood – in this I include the adult and adolescent years of curiosity and discovery. God was never far enough for me to have work hard to find him. He was, in fact, close – within me – working to grow my eyes and heart into maturity: the ability to see, hear, recognise, and respond to Him and His love.

I found however, after my awakening, that life had more hurdles to overcome. It seemed as though the world I had occupied did all it could to spit me out – people I valued greatly couldn’t stay intimate with me as a result of the new direction my heart was being tugged. It’s almost as though in surrendering my life to God, I gave up the world. I was forewarned about this by wiser Christians and had encountered the same in scriptures, this sense of carrying a cross, of hardship, of rejection by the world, but was unprepared for it. For all the encouraging words however, I still felt the sorrow of loss. This was compounded further by everyone talking about having received “peace, joy, Love” etcetera. I, meanwhile, was in pain: it hurt to be – or at least feel – alone. Only one thing kept me walking in this new direction toward the known unknown, a deep sense that it was the only way I could go.

Jesus spent 40 days in the desert after He was baptised. He then returned to where He had come from.

Retrospectively, the world I inhabit now is no different from the one I felt sorrow for leaving. In fact, the Church has the same broken people within it – me being one. The difference is this, that after time spent separating myself – or at least trying and failing to separate myself – to and for God, there is a solidity within. This isn’t my doing. He led me out of my house into a storm and asked me to stand and call out to people without shelter while he built a stronger house around me. The more the bricks went up, the less the wind blew. This house is still incomplete but I’m beginning to trust in the pace of the work and the workman.

Take heart, persevere. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…