Words From The Crowd

This collection of reflections by JOHN L. BELL focuses on these seven words; a different character responding each time, in their own way, to what they’ve heard.

Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.

…. on the contrary;
you do not know what you have done.

The stage of history
was erected, trod and tested
long before your brief sortie
from the wings.

The drama of salvation
– you are religious,
you will understand –
has been played, continuous,
in repertory
and found, in the main,
to please….
and that without a saviour
except God and the system.

But you, upstart from outside,
decided to change the script,
to subvert the plot,
to personalise the absolute,
and, ad libbing with the audience,
to infer that the new travesty
is true.
Who are you?

You do not know what you have done.

But it is not irreparable.
Two days, three perhaps,
and your face will be forgotten
as the actor is
who plays the clown at night
and, unmasked,
feels a fool in the morning.

Your listeners will stop speaking of you;
your followers will stop following;
religion will return to normal –
we’ve had such sects before –
and your theatre in the round
will close its invisible doors
when the hero dies and
exeunt omnes.

– A travelling player

Today you shall be with me in paradise.

In paradise
a boy with lice
is showered clean with kisses;
a girl with spots
gets lots and lots
of cuddles that she misses.

Eachie peachie, eachie peachie
where’s the evil eye gone?
Where’s the bogey, where’s the polis,
where’s the ones they spy on?
Eachie peachie, eachie peachie,
children who were naughty,
always got their trousers torn
or always missed the potty
now can sit on Jesus’ knee
and now can feel him tickle.
What a shame that adults get
the Saviour in a pickle.
Eachie peachie, eachie peachie
where’s the evil eye gone?
Where’s the bogey, where’s the polis,
where’s the ones they spy one?

In paradise
the doctors find
that surgeons all are men born blind;
the clergy find
that those who teach
were all beyond their preaching’s reach.

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief
find that heaven’s like a coral reef,
a coral reef that sinks a ship
and all the differences on which we trip.
We trip on past, we trip on present,
we loathe the prince and we mock the peasant.
But paradise is where we find
that good and bad are of a stranger kind.

In Paradise
you sometimes stare
at who’s arrived and at who’s not there;
and bigger yet
is the surprise
that you are there in Paradise .

– A child

Mother, there is your son… there is your mother.

Knit two, purl two, knit two,
drop a stitch…

Knit four, purl four, drop two,
knit one…

Jamesie, cum here.
Who’se thir mammie’s boy?
Jamesie, gie back that toy
tae the wee lassie.
It’s hur teddie.
Jamesie, when yoo’re ready!!

Don’t greet hen.
Ye’ll get him back agen.
But here’s anither wan tae haud
till that wee bugger brings back yir wain.

Knit two, purl two, knit two,
drop a stitch…

Knit four, purl four, drop two,
knit one….

– A woman with child

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Him too?…
like every other Jew
or, if not all,
like me.

Through God created,
to God related,
by God mistaken,
by God forsaken.

His groan,
like every heavenward moan,
or, if not all,
is mine.

Through God extracted,
to God attracted,
by God conceived,
by God deceived.

He asks
what every fear unmasks,
or, if not all,
mine do.

Through God undaunted,
to God unwanted,
by God impressed,
by God depressed.

He’ll cry
and like all flesh he’ll die
or, if not all…

This Jewish Jesus must be listened to,
though many hear, only a few
or less might dare to see
that either society’s scarecrow
is hanging on the tree
or God, if He’s his father,
is like this broken creature
looking through much pain at me.

– An agnostic

I thirst

I thoat he wis a day oot!

Right enuf, it’s awfa waarm.
The swet’s rinnin oot ma oxter
like creesh oot a mutton pie…
Oh laam of God…

nae offence, missus.

Whit’s he daen there onyway?
The last time I saw him
I wis as pisht as a fart in a trance.
An I asked him fur a shullin.

An then he dauneret intae big Susie’s hoose
an made fur me tae jine him.
Hur settee’ a fold-doon bed, but.

Bad memries…
know whit I mean?…
Brewer’s droop an….

nae offence, missus.

So noo he’s thursty
an no a pub in sight
an too early fur a cairy oot…
no that I could stretch ma airm that faur
tae gae him a sook et ma boattle if I hud waan.
But I’d gie it a try,
even though I’d maist likely boak up
if ma haun went near that bloody mess…

nae offence, missus.
So, whit dis that say, lady?
Thon thing abuv his heid.
That’s no his name!
That’s no whit I’ve heard him caa’d.
it’s his title.

Oh well,
I must go hame an tell the wife
that the day’s the day
the Saivyir of the World
waantit a drink!

I’ve a fair drooth on me, masel.

– A drunk man

Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit

It will not end,
not now.
Not with what he said.

In life,
we often give till it pleases,
seldom till it hurts,

never when pain sears, soars
and roars for death to come
and life to die.

It will not end,
not now.
Not with what he said.

This wrecked, wracked pastime of a body,
this taught, untreated plaything of a man
takes much,
but even in the throes of death
he shows his strength
and gives more.

Cling firmly to your spirit
and nothing you’ll receive.
But let it go and God
the human race’s running sore,
its civil sin with private core
will conquer and relieve.

You will not end,
not now
with what you said.

For on the cross you came
you finish,
All will return
and rise with you,

– A watching woman

It is finished
Move along, my lovely ladies,
sure, you’ve seen it all before:
nasty sight for nasty people,
nothing works like blood and gore.
But for ladies sore with crying,
sunken eyes in sunken cheeks,
there are better sights to stare at
than three decimated freaks.

Move along, my boozie cronie,
lift the foot you think is stuck.
Had you come an hour early
you might just have chanced your luck
Playing pitch and toss with soldiers
who were gambling for the clothes

his, now mine, are these and those.

Move along, my little children,
time for school or time for bed.
Fill your minds with dreams or wisdom
which will last. Don’t lift your head
any higher than my elbow.
Him above’s about to die.
Then we’ll clear this messy business
which obscures the sun and sky.

Move along you sundry people,
suited to your Sunday best,
rooted gazing at a failure
destined for eternal rest
unless God, in his own humour,
has in mind another goal,
topping heaven’s celestial goblets,
shovelling hell’s unwanted coal.

Move along. Bert, did you hear him?
Sounded like he thinks it’s done,
though his voice almost suggested
that perhaps he’d just begun
to expect some other ending.
What a queer fish. I don’t know.
Still, for now, the show is over.
Move along please,
move along please.
Bert, wake up
it’s nearly time to go.

– A soldier

Quoted from: www.iona.org.uk/goose_liturgy.php