Another Way of Seeing

Another Way of Seeing
Trinity Sunday
I slip my glasses off and free my eyes
to sense the stirring touch of wind and sun.
These lenses can’t expand what this mind sees
when all I look at is the ground ahead.
I walk the dog through landscape widely spread,
but peer instead at ruts and heavy ground
where circling thoughts are plodding unaware.

I slip my glasses off and lift my eyes:
my gaze turns outward to a world grown blurred,
the edges softened and the shapes more strange.
Expected outlines shift before my eyes.
Here certainties dissolve and sight is drawn
to blends of colour and the wash of light. 

The world is made like this with layered veils,
and stories patched like quilts, ambiguous 
to naked eyes, and yet perhaps the lens 
we look through tames awareness to plain sight.
We miss the warp of chaos, interlaced
in patterns underpinned and edged with grace.

See how the Spirit broods upon the waters,
bringing form from chaos, and the Word
says: “Let there be” and so there is, and three
in one Creator God will see and show
that it is good. So in this image made, 
we co-create. Let water and the word 
inform our mind and sight. Let dust take shape!
Let words and spit and tears be mixed like mud,
while wind we cannot see, but gladly sense 
will mould the clay and challenge it to be,
and wake our eyes to life with healing touch.

Then I’ll see trees, like people, move in time
to music still beyond the reach of ears.
Speak to the dust of which my flesh is made.
With word and touch make something more than clay.
Let reshaped ears discern beyond what’s heard,
and vision take in more of depth and height,
the sight revealed by wisdom and the light.
Barbara Messner c 2012  

Experiencing Pentecost in the Present

Experiencing Pentecost in the Present
Day of Pentecost; Acts 2:1-21
If someone from outside comes into church,
(infrequent in these days, but still we hope),
they’ll see us dressed in red for Pentecost.
There might be red balloons, or paper doves,
or something sung in Spanish, French or Greek.
How might the stranger feel the Spirit power?
It is as if a spiral on a page
were shown to represent tornado’s blast.

Can we dare pray to sense a violent wind
disturbing us to move beyond our walls?
What if the Spirit embers, burning low,
sprang up and set our hearts and eyes ablaze,
so we could share with tongues set free by love
how we have walked with Christ, been Spirit led,
have risen from our anguished prayer released,
or felt a wonder lift us beyond self.

Then we would tell in words that resonate
of service to compassion, justice, earth,
of times when we have walked with one in pain,
or someone listened while we searched the dark.
We’d hear of timely insight that transformed
when someone speaks or writes what must be said.
We’d share our sense of calling, or of awe,
and hear how lives were healed and land restored.

I wonder then if someone from outside
might sense the Spirit moving in our midst,
experience the truth of what we live
as we share wisdom and our honest search.
I wonder if we’d be inspired to change,
embracing difference, listening for its truth.
The Word of God might speak in us afresh,
and Christ be recognized in who we are.
	Barbara Messner 30/05/2022


Easter 7; John 17:20-26
I drove to church along the ridge of hills.
The valley spread out arms to greet the town;
the distant sea rose up to meet the sky;
the curve of earth reversed to form a bowl
in which light poured and colour overflowed.
There I was drenched in brightness, lit within.

But then, as corners turned, the bush prevailed,
pale glowing trunks, striped shadows on the road.
The leaves that danced seemed hand in hand with sky;
they juggled light and married it with shade.
I wished that I could stop and walk alone,
or with First Nations’ guides who know the ways
of bush and birds and creatures, and the tales
that show how Spirit impregnates the land.

The church upon the ridge reveals that truth,
with valley views and presences of trees,
fresh songs and paintings, and the altar graced
by grey and silver patterning of leaves,
a healing vision of indigenous art.

Now at the altar we, with outstretched hands,
commune with presence, Christ in bread and wine, 
and Spirit in the artist’s healing leaves,
in sea and sky, in bush and birds in flight.
Creator in creation, Christ in us,
connect in mutual love that makes us one.
Embracing difference, shadows dance with light,
and matter mates with Spirit to be whole.
	Barbara Messner 26/05/2022 

The Mystery of the Ascension

The Mystery of the Ascension
Ascension Day: Acts 1:1-11, Luke 24:44-53
There on the mountain top they find him gone –
gone up, gone out, drawn in beyond our sight.
Some doubt, some worship, hide and wait, move on;
some wish to stay forever on the height.

Was incarnation nothing but a play?
Is God restored to God’s transcendent state
where human flesh no longer has a say?
Some judge God dead or tardy as they wait.

Is God now absent, or so deep within
our world, that we can live Christ’s way?
Are we abandoned, or made more akin?
Do we become Christ’s body in our day?

No techno-marvel, nor a magic wand,
transported Jesus to some other place:
whatever happened draws this world beyond
the bounds of finite life and time and space.

How limited our skies and straining eyes!
We peer beyond this day and night of earth;
beyond the cloud we guess at God’s surprise:
Christ’s Second Coming, New Creation’s birth.
	Barbara Messner (2005?)

Remembered Words

Remembered Words
Easter 6; John 14:23-29
I wonder, if I saw the end in sight,
what words of comfort, stretching like a rope
across the threat of absence, would hold tight
the truth that helps us walk the slippery slope?
At that Last Supper, Jesus knew the plight
that day would bring. He tried to offer hope,
reminding them that God is love and light,
and if they love each other they will cope.
Did they remember that on bad Friday?
He promised peace, his peace that calms the heart,
and said the Spirit, guide to show the way,
would come to them, although he must depart.
I wonder in their overwhelming grief
if those remembered words brought them relief?
	 Barbara Messner 16/05/2022 


Easter 5; John 13:31-35
When Judas left and walked into the night,
and Jesus knew that he would be denied,
betrayed, abandoned to his plight,
he said that he and God were glorified.
It seems a paradox to human eyes
that glory is revealed in pain and death,
but this is the transformative surprise
of new creation, shaped by Spirit breath.
He spoke of love to friends about to fail:
“Love one another as I love you all.”
His love will bear the shock of driven nail,
and theirs the grief of loss and shame of fall.
He died with arms stretched wide in love’s embrace,
breathed out in his last breath God’s gift of grace.
	Barbara Messner 11/05/2022

Season Break

Season Break
One day, windy in mid-autumn,
the bush was wild in flail of fall.
Dead leaves sacrificed to drought
skittered and whirled across the road,
and hills were blurred with dust and smoke.
I felt the threat and promise of change
in ragged clouds and restless wind.

Old farmers here say season break
comes after Anzac Day, memorial
to the cost and tragedy of war.
This time we know new floods of tears
and anger flow for the Ukraine,
as brutal power, immune to human pain,
is causing blood to soak the earth again.

The workers may have paused for Easter break,
but did they recognize Christ’s pain and promise,
or look for signs of fresh growth after storms,
as green shoots rise among the littered leaves?
Here farmers sowed in hopes of inundation,
and we have sung the songs of resurrection.
O let the Spirit come and shake the walls,
and lend us tongues of fire to stir the nations.
	Barbara Messner 7/05/2022

Tell Us Plainly

Tell us Plainly
Easter 4; John 10:22-30
There’s some who want a label, clearly stated,
so they can judge and file this case away.
The evidence of deeds is under rated,
and mystery ignored on every day.
If Jesus said, “For sure, I’m God’s Messiah!”
they’d call it blasphemy and want him dead,
dismiss him as deluded or a liar,
and heap their scorn upon his thorn-bound head.
For Word made flesh, we have selective hearing:
we know him if we recognize his voice,
but how, amidst the doom-sayers we’re fearing,
can people tune their ears to make that choice?
Believing grows with willingness to follow,
for truth is pilgrimage and facts are hollow.
	Barbara Messner 4/05/2022

Breakfast on Shifting Sand

Today my long service leave ended and I am officially retired. I have been feeling rather raw all week, wanting to pull the blankets over my head, or some such equivalent of going fishing! As I woke up today this poem started to come to me.

Breakfast on Shifting Sand
Easter 3: John 21:1-19
Like Peter – raw – I cover too
before I leap and swim to you.
Whatever stripped me in the night
would surely draw your probing sight,
and after breakfast on the shore
your questions search me to the core.

Though I’ve denied, my love is strong –
Give me your trust, let me belong.
I felt so weak I had to weep,
yet I was called to feed your sheep,
and for your sake I sought the source,
and tended flocks and stayed the course.

I know that when I heed your voice
I draw in more than at my choice.
As I grow old, what comes to me?
I fear the time I won’t be free
to do what I might long to do,
but still in love I’ll follow you.
	Barbara Messner 1/05/2022

Saul on the Road to Damascus

Saul on the Road to Damascus
Easter 3; Acts 9:1-20
There vision failed him and his old self died.
“Why do you persecute me, Saul?” Christ said.
His zeal, thrown in the dust, will rise again,
devoted to the work of Christ instead.
Simply awesome, isn’t it:
when one so sure of being right
sees mystery increased?
Here’s new life strange as any myth
where gold, we’re told, is spun from straw,
and love transforms the beast.
The risen Christ has overturned Paul’s world
as though the earth had shifted in its place.
His prior learning came to seem a shape
reflected dimly, now seen face to face.
Simply awesome, isn’t it:
as though magnetic north has flipped
and compasses turned round?
Here’s new life strange as under sea
with creatures dancing in the deep
to whale song so profound.              
Free now to be Christ’s fool, he changed his name
from Saul to Paul, and re-assessed his pride
to boast of weakness partnered with Christ’s strength.
Now faith not law will see him justified.
Simply awesome, isn’t it:
how dry dead seed that’s lost in earth
can spring up to the skies?
Here’s new life strange as prophecy,
for male or female, slave or free
are equal in Christ’s eyes.

Paul spoke to one and all of life transformed:
how sight was lost in light and then restored.
His tunnel vision opened to the one
he once despised, who now became his Lord.
Simply awesome, isn’t it:
that Christ should love this enemy 
and call him to new birth?
Here’s new life hard as labour pains,
as all creation groans to bring
new heaven and new earth.
     Barbara Messner c. 2014 revised 2019, 2022