Category Archives: poems

Slowing down and knowing God in stillness

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I’ve really appreciated the songs and worship of Jonathan Ogden recently. Do look him up on youtube and particularly his lockdown worship sessions have been a blessing and this song above.

As there’s a feeling for many that life is speeding up again I also felt prompted to re-share this poem I wrote in 2014, I hope it speaks to you.

I

it starts with me

I will

an intentional choice

I will be

presence, being not doing

I will be still

stopping – stillness in my body

trust – stillness in my emotions, my soul

peace – stillness in my spirit

and know

deep heart knowing

experiential knowing

assurance

certainty

You are God.

You are “I am”

You are who you are

Not who I think you are or want you to be

But who you are

Your presence, being you

Healer, Provider, Shepherd, Peace

The one who sees,

The one who is present.

Who you are to me now

Who you are, not what you will do

A deep knowing and experience of that ‘who’

oozes in gently

into my body, my soul, my spirit

as I

choose

to be

still.

Jehovah-Shammah Ezekiel 48:35  “The Lord who is present”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2014

My own is not enough

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I wrote this in 2013 and for some reason I just came across it again today and felt I wanted to share it. Seems more relevant to me now than ever, maybe it’ll speak to you too.

 

‘My own is not enough’

I need you.

Aware of my own frailties,

limitations, insecurities, weakness.

I need you God.

I need your love,

to give to others.

My own is not enough.

I need your strength,

to push through.

My own has run out.

I need your security,

to anchor me.

My own is unstable.

I need your wisdom,

to see the way ahead.

My own is tainted.

I need your presence.

I need you.

Fill me up

with all that you are.

So I can be

all I’m created to be.

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013

A glorious and baffling exchange

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This is a poem I wrote at Easter in 2014 and strangely it seems even more relevant in these challenging ‘in-between times’ of uncertainty, darkness, separation and death. Of course people reading this will all believe different things but maybe, as I try to express what Easter means to me personally, it could bring a little hope to others in these times.

They say the sun shines

on the righteous and the unrighteous.

And I’m grateful that it does

because it shines on me

and I’m both.

As I eat banana and bacon pancakes

by the sea

on Easter Saturday

I marvel at the grace

of His sunshine on me.

Here in the in-between place

between Good Friday and Easter Day

between sacrifice and restoration

between loss and great gain

between separation and reunification

between seeming defeat and overwhelming triumph

between death and new life.

In this in-between space,

His friends had to wait,

had to sit in the unknowing

and crushing disappointment

in the devastating silence.

It’s here in this space

that the mysterious happened:

the glorious and baffling exchange.

My garbage

for His glory.

Maybe my brain doesn’t fully ‘get’ it

but my heart has certainly experienced it.

It’s here that I get to lay down

all in me that’s not right

everything that’s ‘unrighteous’

all that’s not His wonderful way.

I lay down my fears

my insecurities

my selfishness.

I give him all the hidden ugliness of my heart.

And it’s here

that he takes it onto himself

at unimaginably high cost.

Then as the sun dawns on Easter Sunday

and life smashes through death

it’s now that he gives me in return

what I don’t deserve

what I could never earn.

Fullness of life

and the privilege

of the offer

of a life changing relationship

with the creator of the universe

with the most compassionate and humble man who ever lived

with the source of peace and love.

An offer

of right relationship with Him:

righteousness.

An offer,

not forced on me

but if I receive it

my life will never be the same.

A ‘mission impossible’:

to bring wholeness and restoration in the world, as He did

only possible through His power at work inside me.

And so on this day of triumph

I choose afresh

I choose full life

and accept the mission that’s impossible without Him.

I step deeper into the adventure

where my life has meaning and purpose

where it’s possible to break free from the stuff that holds me back

where I’m aware of His loving presence: real, alive, powerful

where there’s a gift of peace under-girding even the hardest times.

I step into the adventure

where extra-ordinary things could happen

and amazingly they often do.

Copyright Hilary Murdoch 2014. All rights reserved.

The Deliberate Downgrade

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Creator of the universe

King Almighty

chose to become small
chose to be fragile.
Fleeing death
on the run
displaced
a refugee
no room for him.
The dramatic risky downgrade was no accident.
It was chosen,
to demonstrate to us what kind of Kingdom he brings.
One in which weakness is strength
and authority is not wielded through power and dominance
but through service, humility and vulnerability.
What a challenge for us
to live reflecting his topsy-turvey Kingdom
in our world today
a world that so elevates strength and independence.
How can you choose to imitate him this Christmas?
How can we make room for Him?
And how can we make room for the vulnerable among us, through whom He comes to us today?
Image: Holy Family by Kelly Latimore

Shifting Sands

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On a cloudless day

the low autumn sun

warms my cheek

lights up the edges of the grass stalks

and casts deep shadows

in shallow footprints.

The waves distantly rumble

a dog bark echos

a bird silently circles over the breakers

others chirp intermittently

from the reeds

chatting back and forth

between the dunes.

Dunes shift.

Sometimes gradually

sometimes in just one storm

but they are not secure territory.

Sometimes I’m painfully reminded

that I’ve built my house on sand.

Again.

And it’s shifting.

Why am I surprised?

It’s happened before

it’ll happen again.

The shocking reality is

it’s all sand.

Home, friends, family, work, health,

which country I’m in

which home I’m in

what I’m doing

what people think

which people I can depend on

which people I’m close to.

It’s all sand.

Why should I be surprised

when it shifts?

It’s all sand.

I like to think it’s rock

if it hasn’t shifted for a while.

I set up camp

stake my home out on the dunes

try to reinforce them

steady them.

But man-made stabilization

of naturally shifting processes

always eventually fails

and sometimes makes

the shift more devastating

when it comes.

And the rock?

I wish there were more available

but there’s only one.

And sometimes I ignore it.

It seems so much more natural to build on sand.

The default.

I’m sorry for mixing up

sand and rock.

Expecting things that are inherently shifting

to be stable

and not trusting and putting weight on

the inherently stable.

I need to move my home,

my place of inner security

from sand to rock.

And fast.

The sand is shifting.

Why should I be surprised?

It’s all sand.

“..like a foolish man who built his house on sand..” Matthew 7:26

“lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

© Copyright Hilary Murdoch 2017

I don’t care what the weatherman says

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Driving through town

windscreen wipers on full pelt

hardly keeping up with the pouring rain.

Loud swing music in my car.

“I don’t care what the weatherman says,

when the weatherman says it’s raining,

you’ll never hear me complaining,

I’m sure the sun will shine.”

The traffic lights multiply a myriad times in the wet road

sparkling like Christmas tree lights.

My concentration is keen

to see clearly

to stop when I must stop

and go when I must go,

but to avoid those without cars

rushing across the road,

clasping soggy newspaper

in a futile attempt to cover their heads,

blinkering themselves inadvertently to the oncoming traffic.

Maybe they care what the weatherman says more than I do.

 

The gentle invitation

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Dappled sunlight

falling on my arm,

gentle breeze,

a glimpse of the mountain,

through glowing branches.

Birds cheerfully chirping in the trees,

the sound of water splashing in a fountain,

sun shining through the vine leaves above me

highlight the firey edges of autumn.

The smell of coffee and baking.

Here, in my happy place,

I tell you how I feel,

I choose honesty

over a stiff upper lip.

As I give up certain foods

I realise how much I turned to them for comfort.

I realise I’m stiff necked and slow

to turn to you for that comfort.

As I return to South Africa

I miss family and friends in the UK.

More time alone.

I realise how quickly I turn to people for comfort.

You invite me gently not to rush to fix the aloneness

but to look to you to be my constant companion.

Feels hard

Easier to pick up the phone.

As things seem uncertain and unfamiliar,

my things in cardboard boxes

both sides of the world;

living in a friend’s spare room, not my home;

a new season, not yet fully defined;

in this place, you invite me gently to turn to you

with certain hope and anticipation

that you are my rock and my certainty.

You remind me that wherever I am,

I can be ‘at home in your love’.*

As I struggle to articulate my life

and comparison knocks loudly at the door,

again you gently invite me to turn to you

knowing my significance, value and meaning

is rooted in you alone,

not in what people think of me

or whether I’m doing things

that I or others define as ‘significant’.

You tell me your word is a light to my feet.

Not a search light to see the whole road ahead

but a flickering candle in a lantern

only enough light for the very next step

and that step was to return.

You invite me to place my hand in yours

and I know it’s true

(even when it doesn’t feel true)

that it is safer than a known way.

I guess it’s true you have more patience with me

than I have with myself.

For a short while I live in lack

and tears come

not recognising the person

standing close by my side

who can meet me in every place of need.

Who can be my everything.

* John 15:9 “Make yourselves at home in my love.”

In between people

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Photograph Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2014
Following the post of my poem ‘In the Air’ some wise friends of mine commented that being ‘in-between’ is “probably what a lot of life is going to look like”, that “it seems like that is the way of Jesus”. That got me thinking. Recently I have read a few passages in the bible about that theme and have felt God whispering to me about it. While I was in the beautiful prayer room at La Motte Wine Estate (if you are in Cape Town do visit it, if you haven’t already) I was reading the passage below from Hebrews and then weeks later I read the passage below from John and its been buzzing around in my thoughts.
I’m like the wind*
He says.
No one knows where I’m from
or where I’m going
and neither do I really.
But it’s reassuring
that He says
it’s the same
for all who belong to Him
and are filled with His breath.
What’s it like to be like wind?
Surely wind can’t hold anything
can’t cling to anything
or any place.
the same choice remains
for the wind-like followers.
The in between people
The sojourners
The pilgrims from a long line of pilgrims
Abraham to Joseph, Moses to Ruth, Mary to Jesus himself.
Always passing through.
Even when I find a place, a precious place
where I feel at home
(or even a few)
even there
I am only ever a temporary resident.
For I’ll always be a stranger
a visitor
on this earth.
I am not of this world
just as the one I follow is not.
Our home
our true home
for which our heart longs
is more beautiful
more magnificent
than all we could imagine.
Our heavenly home
is where we’ll return to
and finally
feel fully ourselves
and fully at home
forever.
So no wonder I feel like a wanderer.
A stranger.
I must hold lightly
I’m only passing through.
(Having said all that, I do feel at home in Cape Town and am planning to come back!!)
Copyright 2014 © Hilary Murdoch. All rights reserved.
*No reference to Dirty Dancing or Patrick Swazye intended 😉
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
 –
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)
 –
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” – Jesus (John 17:16)
 –
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)
This song has also been a real blessing to me recently (click to open the video).
In the process,
in the waiting,
you’re making melodies over me.
Your presence
is the promise,
for I am a pilgrim on a journey.

In the air

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Cardboard boxes

Rolls and rolls of brown tape

Stuff of life contained

Packed away

Paused

Held.

To be reclaimed

one day

timing to be confirmed

hopefully not too far away.

Unpacked into a new season.

Connections re-established

Life resumed.

So much stuff.

How much does one really need?

Very little if we’re honest.

But we keep it

as a security blanket.

There’s a freedom and lightness in simplicity

but I’m rarely brave enough

to shed enough

to experience it.

In the air

literally

between places

between lives

and yet living my life

in this moment.

I’m not alone

flying with my constant companion.

Knowing I’m loved and known

held in hearts

in both places I call home.

Copyright © 2014 Hilary Murdoch. All rights reserved.

Plane over Cape Town image: Reuters

Maybe

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overcoming-fear-taking-action dooyah.com
What am I afraid of?
Truly
under it all?
What’s the worst that can happen
and is it really that bad?
 –
Maybe I’m afraid of loss,
losing what’s good
places, relationships, opportunities.
But what if I have to let go of the good
in order to receive the better?
I can only be ready to receive
if my hands are empty.
In loss there is thankfulness
an acute awareness of the good of whats past.
In loss there is a clear headedness
a lightness in spirit.
Ready for whats next.
 –
Maybe I’m afraid of what people think,
much less than before.
If people are disappointed in me
If people don’t think well of me
what then?
Will my world come to an end
or is there something more secure, more robust within?
Trying to please others
always leads to a closed space
being boxed in
trapped.
But going with the quiet inner voice
above the loud outer voices
leads to the wide open spaces.
Flying free.
Maybe I’m afraid of the unknown
my path not within my power.
But that place of unknowing
can be a place of excitement and freedom
holy anticipation
if I choose to make it so.
The place where trust is not optional
but the only lifeline.
The only anchor
on churning seas.
 –
Then
if all this is so
maybe
just maybe
I am not subject to fear
but it is subject to me.