The Last Rose of Summer

I first heard this poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore sung as a duet by Hayley Westenra and Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. To me it captures both the sadness and beauty of a change in season and our deep need of companionship in a fragile world.

‘Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

Thomas Moore

how do i see you?

Coming home on the bus tonight, we passed by a homeless man with his empty Tim Horton’s cup, sitting on the curbside of a busy corner. A family of several generations crossed his path, well-dressed, likely on their way to some fine Toronto entertainment. The adults picked their way around him, but there was a boy with them, about nine years old. He walked within inches of the bundled-up man, and openly stared as he passed by. I could sense his questions and childish wonder – why is this man here? why does he have nowhere to live? why does no one look at him? why doesn’t he look at me? It seems we grow out of those questions and formulate our educated opinions which make us comfortable with doing nothing, at least very little. But the child challenges us to look again, to stare impolitely and perhaps meet the gaze of poverty. I don’t have an answer, but that doesn’t mean I forget the question.

There’s a song by Jason Upton I recently rediscovered called “Power in Poverty.” It stares impolitely into my heart and desires.

There’s a power in poverty that breaks principalities
That brings the authorities down to their knees
There’s a brewing frustration and ageless temptation
To fight for control by some manipulation

The God of the kingdoms and God of the nations
The God of creation sends this revelation
Through the homeless and penniless Jesus the Son
The poor will inherit the Kingdom to come

Where will we turn when our world falls apart
And all of the treasures we’ve stored in our barns
Can’t buy the Kingdom of God?
Who will we praise when we’ve praised all our lives
Men who build kingdoms and men who build fame
But heaven does not know their names?
What will we fear when all that remains
Is God on His throne, with a child in His arms, and love in His eyes
And the sound of His heart cries?


I see you through the smog
A fierce orb of plasmatic glory
Our pollution puts you in a new light
You glow through the dark
Wasted breath catches in our throats
To render worship speechless


Breakfast with Jesus

I’m still coming to terms with this resurrection thing. I don’t think it’s something you understand fully after a sunrise one morning, or even after a couple kind of freaky appearances.

First I thought he was a gardener, then a ghost. Now Jesus has to call out, in the same words he’s used before, to meet me in the same empty boat. I am still a child with no fish. Only when the miracle happens again does the echo catch in my heart and reality dawn on me.

It truly is him, standing on the shore, but I am so far away. I am not a strong swimmer, and most certainly cannot walk on water, but I throw myself into the sea, pummeling the waves and hoping he is not a mirage born of sleepless delusion. I make the hundred yards to the beach.

He is still there, thank God, and in light of the past bizarre days, I have never been more grateful to see a little charcoal fire burning merrily where the sand has been dug away. I smell fish and bread and the familiar scent of Jesus as he lugs me up to dry warm sand.

“Come and have breakfast,” he says, and these word remain as some of the most memorable and precious I have heard him say.

Breakfast with Jesus. He gives me the bread and fish he’s cooked up, and it’s like we’re camping, two friends watching the sun over the lake.

I need to be here awhile, to pick at fish bones and burn my fingertips on bread almost too hot to eat. I need to learn what he looks like all over again. I know breakfast doesn’t last forever, but I hope he’ll cook for me again.



bread (2)

Soft evening light streams through a kitchen window and onto the worn surface of a wooden table. The hermit thrush sings, and by these chimes the woman knows it’s time to begin her work. She lays out flour, water, salt and the fragrant yeast. Her hands have memorized the motions – sprinkling, stirring, kneading. Her arms are strong from this nightly task. Love, frustration, sweat and prayers are worked into the dough till it is soft and resilient to her touch. It is the same process, day after day.

She makes bread, makes a living for her family. She sets the offering to rise in the warmth of the kitchen. The last thing she will do before she sleeps is punch it down again and separate it into loaves to be set in pans. Under the cover of night it will transform and gain its life. She will rise before the dawn to the robin’s song, and will make the fire blaze and put the loaves into the oven. As the family wakes they will smell her sweet labour, and she will be satisfied to place golden manna before them. They break the bread together and are warmed for the day’s work. They eat till they are full, and there is always enough left for supper. By the time the thrush chimes again it will all be consumed, crust and crumb. The woman will sigh and begin again the daily sacrifice. It is their life.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst . . . I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6)