January 2014

fall, leaves, fall


Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Emily Brontë




The sacred is the interference of the uncreated in the cre­ated, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion.

The sacred is the incommensurable, the transcendent, hidden within a fragile form belonging to this world; it has its own precise rules, its terrible aspects and its merciful action; moreover, any violation of the sacred, even in art, has incalculable repercussions.

Intrinsically the sacred is inviolable, and so much so that any attempted violation recoils on the head of the violator.

Frithjof Schuon


The  beautiful changes
The beautiful changes as a forest is changed

By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;

As a mantis, arranged

On a green leaf, grows

Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves

Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.


Your hands hold roses always in a way that says

They are not only yours; the beautiful changes

In such kind ways,

Wishing ever to sunder

Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose

For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

From Richard Wilbur, The Beautiful Changes


                      Making Nothing Happen

Five Poets Explore Faith and Spirituality

Gavin D’Costa, University of Bristol, UK, Eleanor Nesbitt, University of Warwick, UK, Mark Pryce, Diocese of Birmingham, UK, Ruth Shelton, Director of Emmanuel House Day Centre, UK and Nicola Slee, Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, UK
‘All the authors in this collection agree that being committed to a religious form of words and practices is not simply ‘the conscious occupation of the mind praying’ (Eliot’s phrase) but a set of habits that allows, and eventually demands, space in us.  The authors write, poetry and prose alike, to demonstrate that these habits bring something to life, make space for others.  So this is a book about a coming to life and a coming to stillness, together and inseparable; a serious and joyful gift, for which this reader is deeply grateful.’

From the Foreword by Rowan Williams,
Master of Magdalene College Cambridge, UK


‘This thoughtful, generative interaction of poets is a welcome entry into the current struggle for and with faith among us. It is clear that the long-standing prose attempts of memo and proposition produce certitude and absolutism, but not much in the way of energy or courage or wisdom. These poets are knowing in thick ways, elusive enough to invite us to move with them, and critical in ways to hint at fresh connections. In all, a welcome resource.’

Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary, USA


‘Is religious poetry a brand of “minor poetry” as TS Eliot feared? Or can it, through forging new metaphors and enlivening old ones, provide a new music for this age of fragile faith and doubt? These are vital questions for Christianity, a faith founded on the poetry of the Bible, and this book by five leading poet-theologians is a timely and challenging contribution to the debate.’

Michael Symmons Roberts, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

This is a conversation between five poet-theologians broadly within the Christian tradition who together form The Diviners. Each poet offers a reflection on how they understand the relation between poetry and faith, rooting their reflections in their own writing, and illustrating discussion with a selection of their own poems and opening up issues for deeper exploration and reflection. This book will interest poets, theologians and all those committed to the practice and nurturing of a contemplative attitude to life in which profound attention and respect are offered to words and to the creative Word at work.


Contents: Foreword, Rowan Williams; Introduction; (W)riting like a woman: in search of a feminist theological poetics, Nicola Slee; Steady until sundown: searching for the holy, Ruth Shelton; Taking form: on becoming a Christian poet, Mark Pryce; Where poems come from: spirituality, emotion and poiesis, Eleanor Nesbitt; The miracle of poetry: divine and human creativity, Gavin D’Costa; Index.


Paperback 978-1-4094-5515-8 February 2014  230 pages  £19.99

Hardback 978-1-4094-5517-2 February 2014  230 pages  £65.00

Ebook PDF 978-1-4094-5516-5 February 2014  230 pages  £19.99

Ebook EPUB 978-1-4724-0694-1 March 2014  230 pages  £19.99





Ministry is about a way of seeing and a way of serving.

That is to say, it is a way of giving attention to God and his creation, to yourself and to others, in order to learn to love them; and it is a lifelong commitment to that kind of service of others who formal name is ‘pastoral care’ but which is more simply defined as affirming love.  And those of you who are launched today as deacons will go into situations where people are deeply hungry for God yet may be almost totally unaware of the Christian story or else may reject what seems to them outdated metaphysical nonsense.

So what have we to offer?  You have what you share with every other living soul:  our humanity.

And to be human is to be aware of what Shakespeare calls the ‘mystery of things’.

When the writer Philip Toynbee was dying of cancer he asked the priest on whose ministry he came to depend why he became a priest.  ‘He told me he had tried several things first – engineering and psychiatric nursing – but this was the first pool he had stepped into in which he couldn’t feel the bottom.’  ‘That’, he writes, ‘was a wonderful answer.’





it’s possible to sit
in meditation
until the cushion is
worn flat
and never know
the thing that is.
let me tell you
about that thing.
it’s inside you
(and me)
right here
end of.

Lu Tung Pin




a tree



is a tree said Kabir

a tree in the forest; when the woodsmen come

to cut Him down

He will not defend Himself

He will not shame them.


And God, he said,

is the earth

an endless wonder

that allows Himself

to be ruined by us

but He weeps

yes, He weeps

but only in front of close friends.


And God is that animal

endlessly beautiful

that someone, somewhere

is beating, is hurting

but not even that

can make God break

his silence, and say


for God’s sake, why

are you doing this to Me?


The humility of God

is endless, endless

said Kabir

and wept.



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