The Nets   (Based on Matthew 4. 18-22)

my mother sent me to the foreshore

the fishermen were spreading the nets over the sand

checking for breaks and snatches


they will sometimes throw a denarius my way

if I crawl to the centre

and stitch together the holes where rocks have caught


when I arrived they were busy

and those who recognised me told me to wait

until they had done the heavy work


I walked to the water's edge

and sat in the bow of the boat

imagining the day I was the owner of such a vessel


the sun was warm and I felt the heaviness in my eyes

and I must have fallen asleep

and how long I slept - I do not know


but I awoke to the sound of voices

not raised - but excited

and lifted myself to see what was going on


the fishermen were there

and were talking to a man

I had never seen before


there was much waving of arms

but the man at the centre seemed

to have a peace and tranquillity about him


they talked for a while

and then two of the fishermen embraced

and put down the ropes they were holding


they turned

and as they did I saw a look on their faces

that I had never seen on an adult before


a look of excitement mixed with terror

of trepidation and joy

of a knowing at finding a meaning


before they left they beckoned to me and I ran to them

they told me to take care of the boat

and to use it well


I could not believe what they were saying

and I looked at what was spread out

and words would not come


and then I looked at the man

and he stepped forward

and placed a hand on my head


and I didn't want the boat anymore

I wanted to leave everything behind

and follow where he would lead me


Turned Back   (Based on John 6. 56-69)

These are complex words

they are not the words we expected from a Messiah

We thought that we would be able to understand

and be able to follow ...

... without having to think too much

because we believed that all

of the thinking and analysing was done


We thought that he would come and lead us

be a king in a golden chariot

sweeping the unclean and the heathen

before him

but ... he doesn't do that

Instead ... he speaks ... and he teaches

and we gave him the benefit of the doubt

.... and we listened

.... but these are complex words

these are difficult ideologies


He said that the words

are spirit and life

And I don't understand

what that means

because ... I have had my fill

of symbols and meaningless

trite speeches

I want someone to lead with a shout ...

Loud words that I can make sense of .....

..... because these words are complex


I just want to follow a Messiah

who everyone can see ... is the Messiah

I want to be a part of a movement

of thousands

not tagged on to a travelling raggedy bunch

of a dozen or so misfits ....

.... fishermen ....  prostitutes  ....  tax collectors

... all listening to every word

of a jumped-up carpenter


Did I really get it so wrong?


Seven?   (Based on Matthew 18. 21-35)

I listen to conversations

I like to hear what people say

because you can sometimes exploit that


ask for more when you are begging

pretend to have the same disease that their mother died of

or just threaten them if they sound weak


These two men weren't weak!


I listened to the numbers jumbled in with their words

I know how many denarii it takes to feed my family

but I'm not really so good at counting


I know the laws though and that I'm supposed to forgive three times

so when I heard him say seven

I reeled - that seemed like a lot of forgiveness


but it was the other one who took my breath away

seventy times seven!

I bet you could forgive every day for a whole year


and still have more to go


doesn't that mean that you just go on forgiving

whatever it is

time and again?


But you know

I keep going to the temple

ask God to forgive me - my choice of career


I say sorry each time I steal

but then go and do it again and again


and I've done it more often

than seventy times seven


Maybe it is time to find a different way

to put the food on the table


The Slave  (Based on Mark 10.42-45)

They wake me before the sun comes up

but they do not feed me then

I go to the water skin and drink before the work starts


The work is sometimes very hard

sometimes we are beaten

to make us faster

but  pain does not make us work harder or faster


it makes tears

and it makes blood

and those two

are not good bedfellows


Most days I work in the fields

and the work changes with the seasons

When we  plough - it is hard

but the day when we sow

is a day that feels like a new promise


I like it after the harvest

on a windy day when we

thresh and winnow

and the husks swirl and fly


One of the other slaves

who is from the mountains

said that it reminds him of a snow storm

but I have never seen snow

maybe in the future

maybe when I have my freedom

One of the house slaves

went with the master two days ago

went to listen to someone

who preaches and gathers great crowds


I asked what he preached about

- if it was like the temple men

who come and shout at us sometimes

who tell us how wicked we have been

and how we deserve no other life than this


One of the others shouted back once

but only once

he was beaten

and he still winces at the pain

in the cold days of winter


But the slave said that this one was different

how he talked about love

and how he said that he would be a servant

and a slave

how he came to serve


Maybe I could meet him 

maybe be I could tell him

not to wish this life on himself

maybe I could say

If you can walk away

            ..... then walk away

because some of us are born to this life

we serve

and then we die


       Maybe I could tell him this