The Snake’s Sin


The snake, in his tempting, makes us confused,
What is the sin, what punishment to come?
Is it pride, or wisdom or God’s traits to be used
that we deeply desire with our heart’s sum?

The snake, in his tempting, is skilled at misleading,
Look here, I’m a snake! Flabby sin at that address!
Is it sex, is it shame, is it clothes now receding?
Our focus is blurred by cold thoughtlessness.

The snake, in his tempting, makes our souls judder,
Shining skin in its blackness pretends to go deep:
Is it fear, is it self’s fickle flutter
that we dunk our souls in ourselves to steep?

Banish this snake, his crooked advance and sick ways,
Place God at the heart of our loupes’ precious gaze.

  • Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6
  • Luke 4:1-13
  • (Lent 1, Year B Lectionary)
thruloupe
Photo jeweller’s loupe: Courtesy mazaldiamond.com

Psalm 29 for a flooded Western Australia


Psalm 29 for Western Australia

A Psalm of David

1Acknowledge the Lord, you heavenly beings, 

acknowledge the Lord’s majesty and power! 

2 Acknowledge the majesty of the Lord’s reputation! 

Worship the Lord in holy attire! 

3 The Lord’s shout is heard over the water; 

the majestic God thunders, 

the Lord appears over the surging water.

4 The Lord’s shout is powerful,

the Lord’s shout is majestic.

5 The Lord’s shout breaks the jarrah trees,

the Lord shatters the karris of Pemberton.

6 He makes Esperance skip like a calf

and Northam like an emu chick.

7 The Lord’s shout strikes with flaming fire. 

8 The Lord’s shout shakes the desert,

the Lord shakes the Great Sandy Desert. 

9 The Lord’s shout bends the large trees  

and strips the leaves from the forests. 

Everyone in his temple says, “Majestic!” 

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the engulfing waters, 

the Lord sits enthroned as the eternal king.

11 The Lord gives his people strength;

the Lord grants his people security. 

northam-in-flood-feb17
Flood waters near Williams WA. 13/2/2017 Courtesy ABC

 

 

 

The Fascinator: A sonnet for Christmas


The Fascinator

Tell the wild tale with vim and with panache
Chorus line of shepherds; veiled discerning
Mystics bringing gifts while earth’s cultures clash
To a baby: He our whole life’s learning.

Ring the bells, all people, stop! Now attend
to whispers of angels, meditations
Of mystics, fresh wisdom to us commend,
kindness of giving, godly fascinations.

Light the candle, we illuminati
with peace, earning goodwill to God’s masses,
Minding the child (He the celebrity)
with lambs and cows and companion asses.

All creation whispers the tale with awe,
All souls are responsive to His divine draw.

  • Ted Witham 2016

Sermon: Ask, search, knock


Luke 11:9-10

I wrote this poem a few years ago, reflecting on Jesus’ teaching that our desire to love, when taken far enough, eventually leads us to see the world in ‘I-thou’ terms. 

– Ted Witham

I asked for a Mercedes, coupé 220, of course.
Received a mirror, 360, signed, with love, Yours.
Reflected… the shiny image that was my deep desire;
to climb up the world’s path, a higher flyer.

I searched for love in writing reviews,
Expecting my readers to walk in my shoes;
I searched for love, making Church work my life,
but found love closer in children and wife.

I knocked on the door of God, Father, King,
Insight opened: metaphor turns God to ‘thing’;
I opening saw God as all my ‘Thou’,
me to be present in the Eternal Now.

Asking, searching, knocking, all stones stepped
to draw near to the One so wind-swept,
Spirit-blown, tempest-tendered,
The ‘Thou’ who all my love has ended.

 

The Spirit of Old Age – Pentecost 2016


The Spirit of Old Age – Pentecost 2016

Our hearing goes as years grow old and God
speaks to our hearts in bracing ways and still
God reaches out like fire to lightning rod
to defibrillate deaf hearts, re-set will.

The spoken Word is void and hearing’s sense
has lost its power to move and renovate.
In old age the calm centre flares intense
In inner fire comes Spirit advocate.

The Word has become a perilous false guide
in querulous senility sounds blurred,
trust God not the ear, and be satisfied
when experience matches the remembered Word!

Persist in the tension of paradox,
the Word can appraise the true orthodox.

– Ted Witham 2016

 

1623742_669424619767393_1520640419_n
Campfire – courtesy Koora Retreat Centre, Western Australia

 

 

Burial at Sea


Burial at Sea

She went on the boat, the toddler Aliya,
an act of love and desperation,
beginning the middle passage of risk and fear,
from war-torn country to wealthy free nation.

They stand in a ring and pray,
the parents, the uncles, the old friends,
they squeeze tight to produce the way
for Aliya to fight through to good ends.

They thought it was better, this boat,
not crowded, not corrupted, not bad,
safely able to cross Europe’s wide moat,
Thus farewells were confident and sad.

Aliya was soon alone, pushed into the hold
of a forty-foot boat with ninety aboard,
the hull, the frame, the motor all old,
no food, no toilet, naught aboveboard.

All around the headache-making stench
of dieseline and human waste and sick,
men groan, women cry, Aliya can clench
her eyes against foul air so thick.

This the middle passage – you must know now
that migrants and crew have been jettisoned.
Peristaltic waves rock Aliya, bitter winds blow,
Motor falters, death has been commissioned.

Little Aliya is quiet. No food for three whole days,
She slips away, a pilgrim to paradise,
her middle passage a satanic maze
She comes to its end a tiny sacrifice.

It’s rough. There’s no one close to grieve.
She’s shrouded. Prayers are said. Blessing and peace
and the Prophet’s words give leave
to the little corpse as it slides beneath the seas.

While in Beirut or Bath they count their US dollars.

  • Ted Witham 2016

 

a-boatdingy-sinking-between-bodrum-and-kos
Photo courtesy Mirror.co.uk

 

Moses’ veil


Two treks up the high mountainside for God:
First climb with light pack, heart open to awe
The great man of God ached, yearned and saw God,
And watched God’s finger carve on stone the Law.

 
But the people, Ah! his people, they turned to gold,
Loving it, their greedy false self they fed:
when their prophet returned, he saw they had sold
their souls, and gold had mutely turned to lead.

 
Moses broke the stones, climbed the breathy track,
This time took care with God the work to share:
In anger and in love he wrote the second plaque,
And held God’s heart in God’s shekinah glare.

 
One thing of Moses’ veil is worth to know:
Light that comes from inside has the brightest glow.

 

– Exodus 34:1-35