At the Threshold of the Year 2021

At the Threshold of the Year 2021

 

Time is sometimes called the Fourth Dimension
Length, breadth and height the other three
But time can fill our hearts with apprehension
No wonder that it’s often said to flee

‘Tempus fugit ‘ we plead as ready-made excuse
When everyday concerns and never-ending cares
A sense of guilt and failure does induce
Our quest for peace and freedom thus impaired

But time cannot be stalled; its steady progress will not falter
It’s march like Roman legions moving ever onward
Along straight roads, their fixed direction does not alter
The army moves in steps that take them ever forward

And so it is that in these dark fading days of late December
As we approach the threshold of yet another year
Thoughts filled with joy and sorrow as we remember
Hopefulness for days ahead but not without our hidden fear

What lies just beyond the gate of this New Year?
We’ve been warned: ‘the past no guide to future performance’
Would life be simpler if the way ahead was clear?
Why do we ever have to seek for reassurance

And this year we move on with trepidation
As 2020 brought challenges unprecedented
In 2021 our hopes rest in an effective vaccination
And that Brexit may not leave us discontented

And so as we peer into the void beyond this New Year’s Day
We simply must accept that unlike length or breadth or height
The realm of time brings with it ‘come what may’
Our prayer remains that faith and hope will bring us light

And so my friend step onward with a steady pace
Give thanks for many blessings in the past
Let love for life and all mankind your heart embrace
And to God’s providence our trust remain steadfast

Ken Fisher

 

 

God Surprises Earth With Heaven (for Christmas Day 2020)

“God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day”
[Iona Community Carol]

God comes in a surprising way
As we awake on Christmas Day
He comes the gift we don’t expect
No more commanding our respect
We’ve grown world weary, cynical
Incredulous of any miracle
How can the gift of the Christ Child
Make God and man be reconciled?
Only in humble trust and expectation
For pride and conceit make expiation
Grasp the hand from God above
Here below, show forth his love
Thus heaven surprises here on earth
Confounded by an infant’s birth

Ken Fisher

Winter Solstice with the Great Conjunction 2020

Winter Solstice with the Great Conjunction 2020

The shortest day the longest night
Benighted souls seeking the light
The sun in deepest declination
Darkness shrouds the northern nations

The solstice marks a time of change
From the light we’ve been estranged
For longer days our hearts do yearn
Sunlight surely must return

For in due time by slow progress
Climbing sun will dark suppress
And soon its penetrating rays
Bring lengthening of each day

As the solstice now we mark
Entombed in gloom and shadows dark
Let’s look to brightening days ahead
As returning light becomes widespread

This year the great conjunction on us may shine
Jupiter and Saturn will close align
As our eye scans space afar
Redolent of Bethlehem’s star

In Covid’s year of 2020
Yet engulfed by gloom aplenty
We pray that with returning light
All our future’s may be bright

Ken Fisher

Oh Zoom All Ye Faithful!

Oh Zoom All Ye Faithful!

Will God be impressed by this method prosaic
With the worshippers aligned in this little mosaic?
Will He incline His ear as we offer our praises
Watching our lips to catch all the phrases

When communal worship is now so constricted
By Covid rules all our freedom restricted
We still feel the need to sing and to pray
Of God’s gift to the world on that first Christmas Day

We recall how at the inn they could find little room
If they could fast forward the Wise Men would Zoom
The Shepherds too need not leave their land
As long as they use fibre-optic broadband

Back to today, what are the faithful to do?
To voice all the old favourites and some that are new
How might we this year lift up our hearts
In communal praises, each playing our part

The answer is that we must just do our best
Aware that God all our efforts will bless
So let’s Zoom all ye faithful, give thanks to our Lord
Assured that on high our song surely is heard

Ken Fisher

Remembrance 2020

Remembrance 2020

[Posted on Remembrance Sunday 2020
in an anxious yet hopeful world
facing huge challenges of political uncertainty,
threats from a global pandemic and climate change]

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Today is a time for remembering
Thinking back to those dark days of war
When life was uncertain for all
And for some, death was an imminent prospect

But few living today have much memory
Of the years of conflict when hostilities raged
And although warfare still encircles the world
Our experience of it is mediated by TV images

And yet we have an uncomfortable feeling
That despite efforts to unite the nations
There is a persistent climate of arm-wrestling
Between the great powers who eyeball each other

The Cold War brought with it the four-minute-warning
Not long to compose our minds for oblivion!
But presently, although we hope our future might stretch for decades,
We cannot quite eliminate the nagging uncertainty for our destiny

However, for today, we give thanks
For all those who bought our freedom
And pledge to strive to maintain
Such fragile peace as we possess

Ken Fisher

Halloween – 2020

Halloween [Saturday 31 Oct 2020]

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Trick or Treat I hear them ask – what should I reply?
As on the threshold of my door the guisers I espy
To ward them off I pay their price as if it were a ransom
With fruits and sweets and even nuts a gift that I thought handsome

But before I let my ‘guests’ depart I ask them in return
What entertainment will they provide, what act will they perform?
It is in times like these I find that suddenly they’re silent
Unable to convince me that Britain has still Got Talent!

However, eventually together they muster up some courage
One even recites a bawdy poem – not really with much flourish
Two more play on the ‘air guitar’ a stimulating riff
While others mouth imagined lyrics, standing there quite stiff

The performance duly over towards the door they shuffle
And in sharing out the Treats try to avoid a scuffle
It was then I notice their costumes quite exotic
Theatrical to say the least – some even psychedelic

These young celebrants in this ancient hallowed festival
Of evil spirits, ghosts and some things quite heretical
Are really just out to have fun with all their many friends
And despite their spooky garb they bring no ill intent

So when our doorbell rings with the challenge ‘Trick or Treat’?
Let’s welcome them with open heart – and with a smile do greet
‘Cause on the eve of All Saints’ Day it’s best that we been seen
To welcome visitors e’re so strange on this night of Halloween

But in this year of the ‘plague’ guising’s quite a task
How do you perform when your face is covered by that pesky mask?
Yet let’s not spurn all visitors amidst  threatening pandemic
Try not to make your welcome seem quite so anaemic!

Ken Fisher

 

Clocks Go Back 2020

Clocks Go Back 2020

The days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in
In no time at all we will arrive at Halloween
Darkness is descending, as we struggle through the gloom
But perhaps this year no guisers draped in their costume

‘Ere we reach that ‘hallowed’ eve the clocks must be turned back
Between Saturday and Sunday an hour they give us back
For last Spring those same clocks were moved an hour forward
To rectify that change now the movement will be rearward

It seems to me this time of year might make you feel depressed
And sometimes negative feelings can be manifest
Some people think this clock change is the harbinger of doom
And thoughts of hibernation fill their hearts with gloom

But most of us will soon accept the changing of the light
Brighter in the morning, then earlier dark at night
Nothing’s really changed, it’s ourselves who’ve played a trick
Tinkering with the clock hands but letting it still tick

So with the changing of the hour we revert to Greenwich Mean
British Summer Time left behind till Spring’s green shoots are seen
But at least we know now where we are, the timing quite official
No fiddling with the hours of day or night, no changes artificial

Of late there has been even greater pressure
Which amidst Brexit could cause great displeasure
Demands that we align with Europe using single and double BST
Unpopular notion for those who from continental shackles would us free

And this year, if politicians don’t soon somehow fix it
We are all confronted with close impending Brexit!
And if that’s not sufficient to put you in a panic
What about the menace of this engulfing pandemic?

But perhaps it isn’t right to conclude on such a sour note
The human spirit is still surely full of hope
Let optimism prevail whatever lies ahead
Starting on Sunday with an extra hour in bed!

Ken Fisher

Trees

Trees

[A humorous glance at]

Trees.   There they are
But we don’t often think much about them
Not unless there is a mighty gale blowing
And we think one is going to fall on us
Or in a thunderstorm – don’t stand under
One or you might become a lightning conductor!

Trees are woody perennial plants
That have an elongated stem – the trunk
Below the trunk there are roots
Then branches and leaves
Reaching upwards [unless a weeping willow]
Ambitious creatures!

There are myriad different trees
Boy scouts used to learn their names
Then burn bits of them in the campfire
Coniferous – with cones – for Christmas
Deciduous – with leaves that fall
OK for logging and carpentry

When a tree is cut down
You can check its age by the rings!
Similar to an old man’s scrawny neck
[but don’t cut him down]
But mostly we just let trees get
On with life – they do no harm

Children of wealthy families
Can have a tree house
Where they can view their neighbours
From their lofty position
Not just physically
But socially

Trees evidently help the world to breathe
Which right now is especially kind of them
The technical term is photosynthesis
But let’s not worry about that
Simply stop destroying trees
And get planting – they take years to grow!

Apparently trees have lots of other uses
They stabilise the soil
They prevent water run off
They can cool our homes and streets
And if any tree is giving you a headache
Don’t forget aspirin is extracted from trees!

Ken Fisher

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves

Autumn’s gone, the fallen leaves a trampled carpet on the ground
Emblems of a life’s cycle now complete, colours faded, no longer vibrant
The naked branches of the trees look down on their abandoned offspring
In dormancy they hibernate awaiting Spring’s promise of new buds

As the years pass, so too with our lives, the fruit of our days
Eventually fades, a forlorn legacy of all our endeavours
The outcome of our activity remains only a withered memory
The effluxion of time makes history of all our deeds

But we cannot deny this natural process, the eternal round
Of birth and life and ageing and death, eventually oblivion
All we can hope for is that, just as the leaves festooned the trees
So too our labours may have yielded fruit in our own time

Enough therefore that we accept the inevitability of decline
Not losing compassion amidst the passing of the years
And in due time face ageing with a gracious heart
And like fallen leaves accept that in our ‘ending is our beginning’

Ken Fisher

Equinox – Autumn 2020

Equinox  –  Autumn 2020

This astronomical event occurs twice a year
When the plane of the Earth’s equator
Passes through the centre of the Sun
On this day the Sun shines directly on the equator
And day and night are approximately equal

Today is the Autumnal Equinox
And our minds look back to warm summer days
And forward, with some foreboding, to approaching winter
And we are happy to say, for now, not yet!

An Equinox is perhaps a good time to reflect
On all that has been good in life
To give thanks for many blessings
For holidays, and travel, and time for relaxation

As the tint of the leaves turns and they begin
To flutter down to form an ochre carpet
Like the lowering of a flag at the end of a parade
We realise that gradual change must come

But shortening days and lengthening nights
Need not bring somber thoughts
Or fears of nocturnal terrors
‘Cause winter brings its own special charms

Family gatherings round the ‘hearth’
Bonfires and fireworks displays
Trudging home through deepening snow
To celebrate Christmas with those we love

And so we acknowledge the endless
Progression of the calendar
Through equinox to solstice
And solstice to equinox,
And again
An unending gyration

But this year things seem quite different
Covid -19 has cast its shadow over all that seemed ‘normal’
When these previous verses were written
And yet we would remain hopeful
Just as the Earth progresses in its orbit around the Sun
As each season brings its own mood and tenor
Let hope remain, the best is yet to come

Ken Fisher

 

 

Is Christmas Cancelled?

Is Christmas Cancelled?

As Autumn days come closer I’m trying to be brave
Ignore ominous warnings of a looming second wave
But this virus is persistent, this fact you must believe
It hangs on tenaciously determined not to leave

Recently we had hoped it might be getting bored
Of menacing all humankind, its options all explored
But regretfully this little beastie refuses to depart
So far all our strategies it can easily outsmart

As week follows week and still the battle rages
Statistics keep confirming just how readily contagious
Covid 19 is a threat to all of life’s enjoyment
To say nothing of the risk to income and employment

Now we are beginning to give thought to Christmastide
Normally a season of goodwill shown nationwide
But are all our festivities to be dampened down this year
As we hide in our bubbles paralysed by fear?

So let’s declare to all the world Christmas won’t be cancelled
The tinsel and decorations are not that easily dismantled
Even if hugs are out we can still show our resistance
By partying, and roistering while maintaining social distance!

Ken Fisher

Funny Summer

Funny Summer

Funny summer we have had this year
I don’t mean ‘funny’ in the amusing sense
Often these days brought little cheer
To lockdown we offered no defence

Since Spring, a new pattern to our daily living
Past freedoms steadily withdrawn
The rules were rather unrelenting
Prospects left us quite forlorn

Why let this ‘new normal’ dictate our mood?
For much in life we should be grateful
Adversity can still yield good
If to kindness we keep faithful

So throughout these long summer days
When daylight our paths illuminate
We give thanks for God’s abiding grace
Our hearts his spirit might still permeate

So as funny summer slips quietly away
As Autumn beckons have no despair
Confident address each coming day
With hope its challenges forbear

Ken Fisher