Poetry

Into The World

I must admit to a recent struggle with my beliefs. I have been watching so many YouTube videos exploring the nature of reality from a variety of religious, philosophical and scientific perspectives, that my head is beginning to explode. Anyone who knows me will know that my own personal explorations into the nature and meaning of reality is an important function of who I am. I’ve been asking questions about the nature of existence since I was a boy. The problem is I feel that today, as the 21st century progresses forward, the religious narratives that have been used for centuries to explain human existence, no longer have the power to inspire. While this is happening, scientific narratives are gaining in popularity. And scientific narratives are usually atheistic (non-religious).

A new spiritual narrative needs to arise and I am beginning to believe that this new narrative has to be personal to each individual. One could say that now: There is only one way to God and that is your own. A belief that reality is divine or sacred cannot be proven. How can it? The only evidence that reality is divine is reality itself which is, I believe, the answer to the question: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Does this mean that morality is also self-defined? In a way yes. But there exist moral norms that are built into reality just as there are limits to the speed that light can travel and laws that govern gravity… Reality has a specific way of being which includes a moral order. We are free to challenge the moral order I’m sure, and I’m also pretty sure we won’t be punished for that. We were not made free to be punished for using our freedom.

Anyway, I jotted down a little verse to end my thoughts.

I must bring God into the world

not just the idea

but the life

Just as my brain builds the world for me

colour, sound and shape

it asks the question

what are you going to do with this?

I can add a pinch of luck

or a spoonful of mythology

but I must give my world its voice

no one else can.

Stephen R K Fender

Don’t Lose Sight

I believe that a synthesis of Christianity and Buddhism would be a great way forward for the future of religion and humanity. This synthesis may not be easy from a theological point of view but shouldn’t be too difficult from a poetic perspective. I believe Poetic Faith needs to be taken seriously. It has no affiliation to any religion but can perceive the Ultimate – God – in everyday experience just as powerfully as any devout religious person can. Poetic Faith is simple as it does not get caught up in the search for a coherent system of thought to justify its existence. Poetic Faith demands no proof; living is proof itself. It does not ask God to justify why the world is as it is and seeks to understand God with its poetic heart and soul.

I wrote the poem below several years ago. I was trying to express the desire to achieve the inner peace and detachment of the Buddhist while continuing to engage with the love-story of the Christian West.  


Don’t Lose Sight of the Yak

Emptiness is a great place
to fall in love: desire burns safely
without pain.

Gautama gave compassion
the thumbs-up as he melted
into no-self. Jesus bled.

The Son of God got himself
nailed to wood for the sake
of love laid open.

When I go walking in Tibet
I shall follow the middle way:

Attach myself to souvenirs, fall
in love with a local girl, talk
philosophy with a Lama. I will
walk far enough into the hills
of passion, but without ever
losing sight of the Yak.

One final thought: I don’t think our flesh and blood humanity has much of a future if it abandons religion and spirituality completely. Artificial Intelligence, robots, androids and uploaded-minds may manage to survive without the need for a relationship with God but not us while we remain anchored to our living and breathing reality. I hope our current way of being lasts for millennia to come.

My earlier thoughts on Poetic Faith


Bamburgh on the Beach

I must have started this poem sometime ago. It must have been after visiting Bamburgh beach again – I don’t remember. Anyway, I found it recently and have made a few changes, mainly cutting stuff away. I put it here because it reminds me of the time when my children were young and we all played on the beach as if we didn’t have a care in the world. Maybe we didn’t. Maybe it’s just that we felt safe.


Bamburgh on the Beach

Six years before the sea was just as cold. 

I came here with five kids 
trailing in my wake like gulls with buckets 
wind-breaks 
and some idea of how the day would end.
   
‘Get your socks off, come on dad,’ my freed feet 
danced on the wet sand like a beached 
fish. I felt 
a soft hand 
lead mine. 

We journeyed 
stood face to face with emptiness 
as icy waves   
tried to reach our knees. 

‘I love this place 
let's build a castle.’

We all raced, laughed, rearranged 
spadefuls of damp sand until someone heard 
the picnic call.   

Kids only need small portions of time.

I closed my eyes 
felt the sound of the sea-shell    
lift my skin in waves as deep as the cold 
that smooths the sand. 

As our day tired 
we watched debris swim back and forth 
unable to let go.

We Own Love

There’s a fine line between love and suffering. Anyone who has loved deeply will know this. As you get older the fine line between the two becomes almost transparent. It is as if suffering itself takes hold of the hand of love to be guided by love into its uncertain future. There is only one joy to growing old: You can, at last, face love as an equal. Through suffering you have earned the right to stand alongside love and say: Yes, isn’t it wonderful.


We Own Love

to suffer
is to pay the price
required 
of love

- suffer
the warmth of sunlight
the buzz
of living’s restless contesting 
it’s insignificance.

dust is reborn into many lives
as the end is resurrected
again
and again

but we stay

we stay
with the words we carve
into the flesh of being real

into the hope
of the not-forgotten to the mind 
of God.

Pyjamas

I wrote this poem sometime back. It remains one of my favourite. Poems don’t need to make much sense. Sometimes you write poems because you have to, because the moment will never forgive you if you don’t…


Pyjamas

I saw you in your pyjamas
the other night. I should have lifted the duvet
and invited you into bed.

You would have said no 
but the place would not have felt so empty 
all the same.

It is the story I want, and your body
with its plot twists, characters, 
its controlled narrative.

It was all there, bound in cosiness
a short reach away. I should have lifted the duvet
and invited you into bed.

The landscape will have changed, 
but your eyes have not, I like myself in them
I am a poet in your world.

I saw you in your pyjamas
the other night. I hope I was a mirror
for you and you saw

how much you are loved, how much 
you are desired, how much you make me happy
just to look at you in your pyjamas with me
this side of mine. 

Maybe that’s where the story ends
each to our own pyjamas.

If it is, I just want (not) to say
I’m okay with that. I would have you in my view
forever. It will always be enough.

  

Waiting

I’m not sure about this poem. I wrote it the other day after going down to the lake to write something about feeling close to nature and the beginnings of the autumn season. It ended up like this, as a reflection on what it is to be. – How long does it take before we occupy our ‘place’ in reality, before we can confidently say: ‘I see.’


waiting

geese fly 
as the wind blows 
as autumn crosses the road
as winter’s 
echo 
crawls underground

imagine
it takes more than one
quick breath
to fall in love with what you see
and takes instead
a life of waiting
in the space 
that’s becoming you

standing here
is an easy bliss
for me

imagine 
geese fly 
because they know the wait
and the time it takes
to get here

- lakeside
as the wind blows
and autumn crosses the road


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