For the New Year, 1981: Denise Levertov



I have a small grain of hope—
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source—
clumsy and earth-covered—
of grace.


Living Flame of Love: St. John of the Cross


“Living Flame of Love”

Flame, alive, compelling,
yet tender past all telling,
reaching the secret center of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover,
break the last thread,
wound me and make me whole!

Burn that is for my healing!
Wound of delight past feeling!
Ah, gentle hand whose touch is a caress,
foretaste of heaven conveying
and every debt repaying:
slaying, you give me life for death’s distress.

O lamps of fire bright-burning
with splendid brilliance, turning
deep caverns of my soul to pools of light!
Once shadowed, dim, unknowing,
now their strange new-found glowing
gives warmth and radiance for my Love’s delight.

Ah, gentle and so loving
you wake within me, proving
that you are there in secret, all alone;
your fragrant breathing stills me
your grace, your glory fills me
so tenderly your love becomes my own.

Translated by Marjorie Flower, OCD: “The Poems of St. John of the Cross”

[ Amazing poem from St John of the Cross. I first came across this particular translation in Larry Crabb’s book “Shattered Dreams” more than a decade ago, and loved it then, but think I’m only really beginning to ‘get it’ now, as the ‘flesh’ begins to loosen its hold on me a little as I approach 60!]

Reflections: Colleen Sturrock


How tenuous is this good-enough-ness
how fragile!
How easily it trembles and shatters
with shifting voices
and the wavering play of shadow and light
over your days.

You are held in thrall
(a deer in the headlight?)
by the not-yet-achieved unachievable,
the unknown experience-not-yet-known,
waiting restlessly for the
slow filter of time.

In thrall, your movement interrupted.
a blink, a shudder –
the courage to begin again,
to move (as if by instinct)
along the fluid lines of love and calling,
the rhythmic patterns of inner grace.

This self, held in my sanctity,
is goodenough now –
and long after the shadows dissipate
and voices fade.

So –
Softly, softly
speak these words of redemption
which mark the path.

[In response to Mary Oliver’s poem ‘Wild Geese’]