Lead Lead and we shall follow

Leave Leave and we shall miss you Miss you dearly But whatever you do Keep leading

Lead, not by barking orders But by raising others into leadership Lead, through quiet conversations Over coffees and under tree boughs Lead by the Spirit

Lead, by holding a space And inviting others to inhabit it fully Lead by making the blank pages Lead by singing and songwriting Lead by healing and by witness Lead, gently but firmly Lead us to the feet of our Crucified God

Lead, in grief and in joy Lead, by opening the door that crack wider Lead through shadow and through sunlight

Lead, with your hands wide open Whatever you do Do that

My life is full of Broken umbrellas

Valiant, they shield me from storms With Variable effectiveness

I replace them with near duplicates Little thanks given

You can see so clearly when one Is undone By the wind or In a recent case, a door

I could get something sturdier Heftier But it wouldn't fit into the Back compartment of my bag Wouldn't fit into the place where I Know I can find it In the rain

My life is full of Broken umbrellas And maybe that's bad for the planet but I have so many Other concerns Other breakings To mind

Thank you, umbrellas If nowhere else Then here

I found Jesus at the bottom of a hole and He said Keep digging Which I wasn't expecting And I said is it just me or Is it getting hotter And He said It's always just you. And I said But then how do I get out? And He said, Fear God. Do not be afraid. And I said ummmmmmmm.

I put down my shovel and sat for a while I thought He might have still been there and so I ventured another question

How did you get out, then? He smiled and looked at me. It's always just Me. Yes, yes, but what does that mean? He sighed. Does it have to mean something?

I'm not trying to be abstract, I said This is not some grand theory I'm constructing It's a very practical predicament I gestured impatiently

How fortunate, He said It's a very practical solution Right up your alley Dare I say, right down this hole

I said nothing He said Keep digging I said are you sure He said Well you give the impression Of needing to do something

I said it's alright for you You're stronger than the power of this grave Or so I've been told He said that part was important but there was more to it than that

I said, where does that leave us? He said, at the bottom of a hole I said, where does that leave me? He said, at the bottom of a hole with me I said, that's something

What promises do you want from me I don't know if I can make the normal ones

It's heartwarming that You still don't seem to ever Get sick of my company

I agreed to babysit The first time you went exploring I don't know if any of that Was a good idea Or what it means for us In the long run

You went in And I was so proud It wasn't easy It isn't easy But you're turning up

I'm pretty sure by now That you forgot you told me That part Of your awful secret To judge by the way You speak of things now Should I remind you?

If my love for you Is taken from me I don't know There's a lot I don't know

You know all the best songs and Sometimes you'll even Tell me about them

I miss all our nighttime ramblings Through the moors and fens of Analytic philosophy, and our own haphazard theorizing I resent That I can't do that anymore But I'm glad I got to do it with you

It's nice that you two could have At least one thing in common Even if it had to be alcoholism

Trust Is a subtle little thing of a thing I guess we keep going with what we've got

You asked me that night “Did I blow up the world?” Nothing so existential I just needed to talk to you again To find our way back to the world Of me and you And we did And we talked about hard things Maybe we will talk about harder ones, yet But I can't see what's on the other side And I don't know how to risk it

The roots of melancholia Feel so deeply and subtly planted in you I'm not sure – could you be another way?

Did God put me Here for you or you here For me?

You don't talk much about Therapy these days and I don't know if that's a good sign Or the other kind

That someone you loved, and you Could do that, and that I can't And I'm sorry And I wish you knew

You feel yourself So different, so divergent And I don't want to downplay it Minimize it But I do want to say Over and over That it doesn't have to be some moat Some high daunting fence That keeps us away

Was that cruelty?

You screamed It shattered And I flinched, but barely Strange, how I know I am perfectly safe You rage not at me Do you rage even at them? Or is your wordless curse Reserved for the unspeakable three? You don't say In fact you go on talking almost normally As if nothing had happened And then you scream again And I don't know how to ease your pain And I don't know how to speak to it But at least I know how to sit

At times your cantankerousness Begins to have the air of bitterness Deep, molasses-thick It has worried me I can't blame you But I can worry

You forgave me? You forgave me

I'm glad you became friends I wasn't expecting that

They asked me To keep vigil They were worried about the obvious thing But as the night went on I worried About something slightly different You said that you're always in that place And I think you might have it half right But I can't explain the other half

Physical media is obsolete, you wrote But that tumultuous first time You brought me the internet's finest On well chosen dead trees And I was so grateful

All gamblers have The bad luck To be gamblers The bad luck To have good luck sometimes You have the good luck To perceive the beauty of it all But I don't know That could be bad luck in the end

I'll confess At times I found it hard to be your friend In the early years And you might well say the same But it feels easier and easier With every passing day Unbearably light Unfathomably so

It makes me happy when you ask me For advice on practical things

You came looking for me At least one of the times I vanished

I guess an addiction to your job is healthier I guess You do seem happier

Are you avoiding me? I really hope not

I'll never forget that time You hugged me It was so sincere And spontaneous And heart felt And unexpected

I hope I never hear you say the like of that again but I hope you'll always know that I can

At least we are maladjusted somewhat synchronously

But as for me Survivor of three journeys eastward Survivor of six round trips to an inside place Survivor of a few inept attempts to be in love (one disastrous) Survivor of the beginning of the end of the world And that's not even the worst of it Help me off the mat The blood, trickling

In that the realm of figures, of resourcefulness and lemmas Call me Benthamite But in this the realm of time spent Of visits that risk ending badly Call my tears partial still He so loved the world? The whole world? I find it, I find it, almost wholly in these Jesus wept Jesus wept, and I weep Lead us to new life

You came To walk the gully with me To see the tenacious plants climb To sit just short of the beach Eating fish and chips Whiling away the freedom It meant a lot If any meaning ever means anything or everything And still there is The smell of fountains The trepidatious joy of some new delight And a thimbleful of hope For redemption And for things even more glorious

So I wrote on my online dating profile “My cat doesn't seem to like people very much But I'm still really glad I got him”

But what I should have written was “My cat doesn't seem to like me very much” But I wasn't brave enough to write that I mean it's true he doesn't warm to most But he warms, a little, to some To my friends who visit occasionally To my flatmate

But what I should have written was “My cat doesn't seem to love me very much” Even though I feed him Even though I clean his litter tray Even though I pay for his insurance Even though I arrange his vet appointments Even though love doesn't work like that Even though I know better Even so, something somewhere is hurt A little And maybe it's me And maybe I just need to try a bit harder To forge a bond

But what I really should have written was “You don't seem to love me very much” Stranger from the internet, seeking out your own love among strangers Crush, that I've harboured for quite a while now, probably unrequited Person I barely know whose seal of approval I still crave for unknown reasons Lover I might have had in another life where I didn't misread you Friend, beloved, who my psychosis makes me second guess God, whose love seems so real and so illusory at the same time and no, sorry, I don't even begin to grasp how that works

Actually, no That would be a terrible thing to write On an online dating profile But I'm still really glad I got him

Beloved God Who creates our creativity See us now As we imitate your love Be present When we are alone Commune with us As we gather in community Help us create for good Help us create for flourishing Lead us not into despair But build in us the keel to grasp the waters of frustration And navigate these currents These winds of tumult and change God who loves us Love our works when we work well Guide us back when we misstep Give us always your feedback Even if we must labour to hear it Amen

I read, and they laughed – well that wasn't expected Was my poem funny? I guess I stood corrected

But maybe it's good, when I meant to seem bad, That they thought I was joking – should it make my heart glad?

When I meant to seem shallow, or at least raise the question Did it seem so absurd as to pass without mention?

I guess I had aimed for incongruous thoughts And to feel safe with laughter's the safe we've been taught

But I didn't feel safe, and I didn't feel good When I first wrote those words, never sure that I should

I was trying to dwell in some in between space I guess there's some chance I'd a smile on my face

I wanted to hear you say “you are OK” Not with a laugh, but some in between way

I'd tried to write of the impotence of writing But now I'm trapped on stage, and I'm sweating the lighting

And I'm trying to answer a question I'd heard About why I oft substitute love with a word

Would you believe it of me, that I suffer from stage fright? Have you come just to watch like you might watch a cage fight?

I think that, on balance, I'm glad there was laughter It feels like a step toward love, ever after

It feels like a healthy-ish place for first meeting It feels like I'm welcomed to go on entreating

So what question, you ask, am I asking of you? Let me step off this stage – for I'd like to know, too

I once was lost But now am found Though there's Just one way in And one way out Are they the same? The way is narrow And it winds, oh how it winds

And there and then, my spirit finds Your Spirit, with my own colliding In a joyous, hapless biding Each encounter, asking “Is this it – is this rest? Have I passed some final test? Am I centred, but not central? Am I done with questions, and with answers And with footsteps – endless footsteps?”

But She just says No words at all Which perhaps Was what I came here to hear?

Her presence feels faint But somehow, that doesn't matter so much And I am Just a little more sure-footed

Write About Something. Not God.

Not God?

(God is in the air)

Let me tell you about this cute girl... Actually – we don't have That kind of relationship

I have a confession: I think I've always liked The song I used to tell myself I hated most as a child

But I can't quite manage; This is all Not not God.

The terror never leaves me now Or that's what it feels like It numbs, it shrinks, it retreats To the edge of perception But does it leave?

That doesn't stop the joy from seeping through, though Doesn't make the beauty of it all less real Less captivating Less here

And the okayness.... yeah, I don't know about it

My aspirations to faithfulness are ongoing

And so I buy White vinegar and microfibre To wipe mould off my bedroom wall

In the joy and the terror

And so I answer my emails and submit pull requests

In the joy and the terror

And so I feed the cat Do the laundry Walk in the park Sing in church Hug crying friends

In the joy and the terror

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

There Not not not God Is somewhere in there Maybe.

The years go by And I misremembered Which cemetery We buried you at

The years go by And your daughters are growing up fast And will never get to know you In quite the same way we knew you

The years go by And they will rob me Of how angry your Facebook rants used to be And how uncomfortable they would make me Even when I agreed with you Especially when I agreed with you

The years go by And I'm not quite sure I have your laugh 100% right In my mind

The years go by And I miss your faithfulness Although I feel You would be giving G-d a piece of your mind With respect to a thing or two

The years go by And I wanted to talk to you About so many things Even if I was bad at it

The years go by Your hospitality Is unmatched

The years go by And eventually I found your grave You have many neighbours now I should visit more often But I don't know if I will

The years go by You're already long gone Yet still slipping away from me

The years go by And I remember How annoyed you were to have Bad Romance Stuck in your head at Ding Dong Dang And now it's my karaoke mainstay And I remember How everyone did a terrible job at trying to convince you To like Ben Folds And I told you to listen to Not The Same And you thought it was OK And now it's my favourite of his

The years go by And I'm still sorry my baptism was on a Saturday And you couldn't come But maybe I'm misremembering that, too And we hadn't met yet?

The years go by And I'm crying more now Than when you died And I don't know why

The years go by Let's make music together