Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Last Maundy Thursday

Then, for the last time, the sanctuary is stripped bare
The congregation, such as they are, take part:
A keen young teacher in an old woman’s body 
Carries the altar cloth away, cradled in her arms,
Her face stern as she negotiates the step down – her arthritic hip;
The red-nosed warden takes the candlesticks from the priest
To the vestry, where a tissue-filled box awaits them
All relics now

And outside:

The chatter of a thousand thousand phones
The febrile, futile, friendyness
The urgent charity
The searching fun
The news, the sport, the holidays, the work
The aching of a valley of dry bones…

So now the ancient seasoned wood is all that’s left
And, for one last time, the vigil begins
Silent figures scattered in the pews
Their heads bowed, or raised a little
to the Easter garden – moss, flowers, stones and sticks, in a tea tray – 
or, a little higher, 
to the hidden image of their invisible saviour
The organist lightly touches the keyboard with a tender finger
Before he walks away
An ending harmony

And outside:

The web-spread call of Save the World campaigns
The gnawing numbing needingness
The dream of Family
The hope of Legacy
Mother’s day, Christmas, Comic Relief, Halloween
A pouring out till only Why? remains

The vigil’s ended; but there’ll be no Good Friday, no Easter service here
It is finished.
As a last act, before finally locking the door
The priest, without quite knowing why,
Has brought the little garden outside
And placed it tenderly on the ground, at the edge of the car park.
Later, in the hidden dark, snails will come, 
Anointing with silver trails as they eat the flowers.
And in the early dawn a mother blackbird will take some of the moss
to line a nest.

And INside:

The age-old callings search beneath the lies
Language lacking logic
Logic lacking language
The real enclosed in fantasy
The deep enclosed in banality
The seed that falls into the ground and dies

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