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Take this Journey with Rohr

Take this Journey with Rohr

Richard Rohr The Universal Christ SPCK 2019 ( £9.99)

It is an often stated conviction expressed by a wide variety of individuals and groups that the Church, Organised Religion and (important for us here at Sarum College) Theology are in decline. The statistics certainly bears this assertion out. However this should not be our final word that may spread gloom and despondency as we human beings are often drawn into the inhabiting such negativity as life, places and institutions change. We must look beyond the immediacy of some of these signs to understand and affirm the ever present cogency and power of the spiritual dimension of our living and longings. We know ourselves to be much more than physical beings. We have capacity to explore what living means for us. For many there is a deep sense of the spiritual integrity and reality of our human longing to flourish and see our communities cohere around building common good for all. It is into this space that a trusted guide can help us navigate the journey of our souls. We human beings have been engaged in the activity of living for many centuries and religion, at its best, has guided, deepened and transformed our sense of how best life might be lived in the light of the reality and truth of God. Richard Rohr has captured our imagination as a teacher, a contemplative and an agitator a radical compassion especially for those who are socially marginalised. He is also a prolific writer but the quantity of his output has not diminished the quality of his books. Rohr has a wonderful attention to detail and a profound capacity to unfold what it means to see the reality of Christ in creation and in and through our human struggles. This is a remarkable book that will soon find a prominent place by your side. Rohr takes his reader carefully and steadily into a journey of deepening discovery and rediscovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the practical implications for each one of us as we live within the proclaiming of the Kingdom of God. Deeply rooted in Scripture, history and spiritual practice we are offered here what it might mean to live with in the Christ shaped liberating and life giving expression and presence of God. Be aware also that this is not an entirely comfortable read – Rohr offers to those who journey with him in this narrative some radical theological wisdom. I challenge those who attend closely to these seventeen chapters not to be shifted in their sense of the meaning purpose and practice religion.

This book is tremendous value for money! SPCK have printed the book with skill and style. The challenge is how the reader puts this theology into practice. From this perspective engagement with Rohr might best be done in a small group over a period of time.

The Moral Heart of Public Service

The Moral Heart of Public Service

The Moral Heart of Public Service – Edited by Claire Foster Gilbert Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2017) ISBN 9781785922558  £18.99

Westminster Abbey takes its location to serve our national life with utmost seriousness. As well as attracting visitors from across the world the Abbey also seeks to engage with a range of major institutions and public figures, not least the British Parliament.

The Westminster Abbey Institute was founded in 2013 to build and develop mutual concern about the world we live in and what values might shape policy and politics. This volume of essays, carefully organised offer insight into the shape of some of these conversations.

Claire Foster Gilbert is a reflective, engaged and creative public theologian. She sets the scene in the introduction by outlining the shape and content of the book:

‘The essays and dialogues can be read individually or as a collection. They will appeal in different ways. None is intended to moralise, rather to share the skill, the effort, the camaraderie and the humour involved in making robust moral decision, in everything that is involved in sailing the ship wards a good destination, which should, after all, be seen as a profound and defining human endeavour for us all’ (p23)

The first essay, by the former foreign secretary William Hague explores the role of Britain as a moral force on the world stage. He asks us to think about our political vocation has one of service to the international community. There is a refreshing questioning of dogma and a restless openness in his reflections.

Three essays follow, written by Foster Gilbert, with a practical focus offers a framework for moral decision-making with some measure of sophistication and subtlety as the text reminds us that almost all decisions cannot claim moral perfection or indeed understand the consequences of the decisions that we make. There is in the process both virtue and truth but an implicit call for a deeper reflectiveness on analysis, perception and practice. This section of the book asks us all to consider how we nurture moral character.

Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland is in dialogue with John Hall the Dean of Westminster in a chapter which explores building communities (p93). This need for reconciliation and the absolute necessity for emotional intelligence as we engage with one another is failings offers a deeply attractive appeal to the nurture of shrewdness and humanity. These are so often qualities lacking in some of public life including within our religious organisations.

Vernon White, Canon theologian at Westminster Abbey, offers three pieces, in a section entitled idealism and compromise. How do we live up to our convictions and ideals in a way which understands human fallibility and limitedness? There is a subtlety and depth to White’s writing which demands careful attention.

One of the great public thinkers of our nation, Rowan Williams, offers a reflection on the relevance of Benedict and his example and teaching in the public space of Parliament Square. Benedictine values in public life are then explored by Vernon White (stability) Andrew Tremlett (community) and Claire Foster Gilbert (the conversion of manners). The flow of this text in narrative is carefully integrated across the social, political, cultural, theological and spiritual worlds within which we all move.

Finally, one of our great political historians, Peter Hennessy is featured in conversation with Claire foster Gilbert, which took place during the profoundly destabilising political events of 2016. Here we see the value of a wise and reflective historian infused with a quiet confidence in the abiding transformation of spiritual values.

In the light of this positive review it would seem churlish to pick at (perhaps) obvious limitations ? However there are fundamental questions to be asked about the traction and purchase of such dialogue and reflection. Whose voices matter? Who do we listen to ? Where does power lie? What are the dangers of class complacency as public service is a matter (literally) of life and death for some. How far does our context collude with our view of what might need changing in order to really recover a moral heart? In a nation so divided geographically what hope might there be for a greater diversity of colour, age, sex and experience and an attention to their narratives?

This is of course too much to ask for – but the book stimulated these questions about what needs to change and how it might change. Dialogue and reflection, are important but only one step in building a better future where there is justice, equality and freedom for all.

Jessica Kingsley has done us a great service in publishing this book. It is to be hoped that those of us taken by its quality and depth might find ways of helping individuals and communities access both its content and the quality of its reflectiveness.

Professor James Woodward

Principal of Sarum College



How do we access the spiritual?

How do we access the spiritual?


Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2015; 280 pages; £19.99 ISBN 9781849054973

I review this book (the second week of July 2016) when two particular conversations were at the forefront of my mind. The first was the smooth transition between Cameron and May into 10 Downing Street and the office of Prime Minister. What followed was much speculation about who would hold some of the key offices of state including the office of health secretary. This speculation triggered a great deal of social media interest in the health service and especially some of the frustrations on the part of healthcare professionals particularly about the culture of change, resource and the over politicisation   of care in the NHS.

The second was a conversation about church growth and how we face the reality of diminishing numbers (and perhaps even confidence) in religion today. Both of these areas of thought might take up many pages of a blog but they certainly shaped by appreciation and admiration of this book of 16 essays that explore issues of how we think about and deliver healthcare chaplaincy.

Let me give you an outline of book. Its editors are leading academics in the area of health, practical theology and chaplaincy studies. In particular Andrew Todd’s work in the Cardiff Centre the Chaplaincy Studies deserves particular respect and admiration for its quality and professionalism.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part (constructing spiritual care) explores models of spiritual care; discourses of spiritual health care; models of healthcare chaplaincy and how chaplains use the Bible as interpreters in their work. The second part (negotiating spiritual care in public) explores the value of spiritual care and the need for negotiation and persuasion for its value in the public domain; some legal and policy frameworks for spiritual care; the work of chaplaincy in a multi-faith and secular environment and the particular relationship between chaplaincy and nursing.

The third part (researching spiritual care) offers an overview of methodologies for research in spiritual care; deals with the particularities of research health context; looks at the significance of volunteers in the culture of the NHS and offers a particular process of observing, recording and analysing spiritual care in an acute setting. Finally part four discusses the practice of the spiritual care in the context of suffering; opens up the much vexed question of assisted suicide; digs deep into the care of those living with mild cognitive impairment and offers experience of spiritual care in a children’s hospice.

The editors provide a comprehensive subject and author index and throughout the work there is a careful structure and system of referencing. While it is almost impossible to provide consistency across a wide range of essays and chapters the editors have succeeded in providing a very useful and significant addition to the literature in this field.

So this leads to my to opening areas of discussion. The first is developed a little in this book that needs further work. How do we deal with our expectations around care and our experience of care in the NHS? With it’s ever developing technology and increased skill and professionalism is the health service nurturing a culture within which people feel valued, understood and responded to? Put more simply – is the health service looking after people as well as it might ? Are there  some indications that despite our increased investment in resources people feel dissatisfied with the quality of engagement, support and compassion. Perhaps it is inconceivable and impossible to deliver but should we always try to start with the patient and the patient voice when developing a narrative for care? This is of course where chaplaincy is at its absolute strongest – it engagement, understanding and transformative presence in and through the attentive and caring relationship. Chaplaincy needs to beware  of its tendency to detach itself from the patient experience in the ever understandable necessity for organisational security and affirmation. The power is  with the patient! Professionalism is always grounded in the narrative of the experience of illness.

The second and I admit a less obvious area of church growth is yet another area where chaplaincy may be critical in turning around the way in which individuals and groups access the spiritual (hence my organising title).Chaplains meet people where they are and on their terms within their life experience. This is an opportunity to illuminate, enlarge and connect with the spiritual – especially in times of crisis and difficulty. It may be that chaplains are altogether best placed to keep the rumour of Angels alive through their presence and engagement. Investment in agency and chaplaincy should be a key element to the churches strategy for recovering the pastoral as part of deepening spiritual connectivity and faith.

This is a very good book and I commend it as a stimulating, resourceful and informed collection of essays on care.

James Woodward

Principal Sarum College




In the End – our choice for Love ?

In the End – our choice for Love ?


You see, only love can move across boundaries and across cultures. Love is a very real energy a spiritual life force that is much more powerful than ideas or mere thoughts. Love is endlessly alive, always flowing toward the lower place, and thus life-giving for all, like a great river and water itself.

When you die, you are precisely the capacity you have developed to give and to receive love. Your recognition of this is your own “final judgment” of yourself which means you become responsible for what you now see (not shamed or even rewarded, but just responsible).

If you have not received or will not give this gift of love to others, your soul remains tied to a small, earthly, empty world which is probably what we mean by hell. (God can only give love to those who want it.)

If you still need to grow in love and increase your capacity to trust Love, God makes room for immense growth surrounding the death experience itself, which is probably what we mean by purgatory. (Time is a mental construct of humans. Why would growth be limited to this part of our lives? God and the soul live in an eternal now.)

If you are already at home in love, you will easily and quicklv go to the home of love which is surely what we mean by heaven. There the growth never stops and the wonder never ceases. (If life is always change and growth, eternal life must be infinite possibility and growth!)

So by all means, every day, and in every way, we must choose to live in love—it is mostly a decision—and even be eager to learn the ever deeper ways of love—which is the unearned grace that follows from the decision!

Richard Rohr Eager to Love


Dressing Up?

Dressing Up?


We all have an ambiguous relationship with Authority or power  and so we should as Christians.

I wonder when you last felt powerless? To be powerless is something we all fear briefly clothed, but God laughs when we take it too, so we anxiously remind ourselves of all our virtues and capabilities. Our instinct as human beings is to build our sense of worth, our self-confidence and value on our past achieve­ments, looks, wealth, status, job or family. In other words to build it upon something for which we can claim credit, some power or ability that we possess.

We tend to come before God dressed in our acquired prowess, our moral victories or life’s successes.

Yet before God, none of these counts for anything. The truth is that we do not do God a favour by signing up to this cause. A realistic embrace of our humanity with all its  realities of powerlessness is part of building up a picture of ourselves that God and others recognise and value.


Here on the Cross is Love and Life

Here on the Cross is Love and Life


Jesus final words finished. His life is finished. His ministry is finished. The scriptures are finished. The reconciliation of God and creation is finished.


This is good news – everything is lost except the heart of God laid bare. We might just get close enough to glimpse that sacred heart laid bare.

And we might just get to read what is written on that heart, pierced and finished for the love of us. The love of you, love for you, each one of you and every part of your experience.


Here on the Cross is love, and in our beholding we glimpse life.

Always Growing and Moving?

Always Growing and Moving?


Generous orthodoxy is aware of the need to keep listening and learning in openness to the Spirit and to the world for the sake of the gospel, it seeks to keep conversations going and not to end them. Generous ortho­doxy does not so much specify a particular point or posi­tion as it establishes a spacious territory defined by certain distinct boundaries in which there is space to live, move, and breathe while exploring the wonders and mysteries of the faith. In this context ongoing conversation is nothing less than the gracious gift of God through the work of the Spirit in fulfillment of the promise to guide the church into the fullness of truth.

So let us  not covet the last word, let us be  honest about our presuppositions and potential blind spots, and honest about our passions  and even forthright in our convictions. To do this we should be  willing to engage with the many voices found in the church and in our culture.

Let the Church be a place for  conversation for the sake of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

We might be encouraged  to keep in mind the words of Hans Frei, who once commented on the term he had coined: “Generosity without orthodoxy is nothing, but orthodoxy without generosity is worse than nothing.”

(with gratitude  to challenges heard after reading

A Generous Orthodoxy

by  Brian D McLaren )




In our era, the idea that we should
lead happy, balanced lives carries the force of an
obligation: We are supposed to push aside our anxieties in order to enjoy our
lives, attain peace of mind, and maximize our productivity. The cult of “positive
thinking” even assures us that we can bring good things into our lives just by thinking about them…

There is something quite hollow about the ideal a life unruffled
by anxiety. It’s why I think that underneath our quest for vibrant health lurks a tragic kind of
discreet death: the demise of everything that is eccentric and messy about human life. Our society sells us the quick fix:

If you get a cold, take some decongestants; if you get depressed, take some antidepressants; and if you get
anxious, take those tranquilizers. But what are we supposed to take when we lose our character?”

From the Chronicle of Higher Education at:

The sacred

The sacred


The sacred is the interference of the uncreated in the cre­ated, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion.

The sacred is the incommensurable, the transcendent, hidden within a fragile form belonging to this world; it has its own precise rules, its terrible aspects and its merciful action; moreover, any violation of the sacred, even in art, has incalculable repercussions.

Intrinsically the sacred is inviolable, and so much so that any attempted violation recoils on the head of the violator.

Frithjof Schuon

What is Gospel?

What is Gospel?



The Gospel is the shocking, provocative, revolutionary, subversive, counterintuitive good news that in your moments of greatest

despair, failure, sin,

weakness, losing,failing,

frustration, inability, helplessness, wandering, and falling short.


God meets you there— right there— right exactly there­in that place, and announces, I am onyour side. Gospel insists that God doesn’t wait for us to get ourselves polished, shined, proper, and without blemish— God comes to us and meets us and blesses us while we are still in the middle of the mess we created. Gospel isn’t us getting it together so that we can have God’s favour; gospel is us finding God exactly in the moment of our greatest not-togetherness. Gospel is grace, and grace is a gift. You don’t earn a gift; you simply receive it. You don’t make it happen; you wake up to what has already happened. Gospel isn’t doing enough good to be worthy; it’s your eyes being opened to your unworthiness and to Jesus’s insistence that that was never the way it worked in the first place.

Does belief change in old age?

Does belief change in old age?


Belief and Ageing

Spiritual pathways in later life

Peter G. Coleman (Editor) Paperback, 192 pages Policy Press Bristol 2011

ISBN 9781847424594   2011


Most of the books on my shelves about religion and ageing are written out of the United States of America. There are many individuals and groups who are investing resources in research in this area on the USA. This stands in sharp comparison to the UK and Europe where religion is on the decline and seems increasingly irrelevant in a culture that is increasingly individualistic, reductionist and materialistic.

This book is a welcome addition to the literature this field. Any interested reader should be directed to it as an insightful and imaginative exploration of belief in older age and these essays are provide an excellent starting point. They offer a comprehensive picture of the way religion and other beliefs take shape in older people’s lives.

How might one account for the excellence?

First, it is based on the leading longitudinal study of older people. These chapters give voice to some forty years of interviewing experience. It illustrates the variety of religious, spiritual and other beliefs held by older people. The participants of this study include not only British Christians, but also Muslims, Humanists and witnesses of the Soviet persecution of religion.

Second, the editor Peter G. Coleman (who is Professor of Psychogerontology at the University of Southampton), is an immensely accomplished and innovative researcher who brings to the work the ability to work across professional boundaries.  He has published widely on issues of development and mental health in later life, including the role of life review and spiritual belief. As editor of this volume he manages to maintain consistency and all the chapters are written with an eye on helpfulness for the reader.

There are nine chapters which explore belief, how religion might help people to age, the nature of the process of listening and what the authors research reveals about whether belief helps individuals to age well. A particular concern is facing death and coping with bereavement (chapter five).The volume takes seriously the diversity of belief in our multi- faith culture and Coleman completes the book with a final chapter in ageing and the future of belief. This chapter looks to the future and increasing diversity of choice in matters of belief among Britain and Europe’s older citizens as a consequence of immigration and globalisation.

There is a useful and comprehensive set of references and an index.

I hope that there might be the widest possible readership of these essays. There are implications for this work on both the self-understanding of the Church and Society where our marketized system of values has marginalised older people to the margins. Too many people view older people as unproductive and burdensome. We need to resist this and see within the narratives of older people wisdom that reflects back to us our limitations.

While there is some disagreement about the definition of spirituality and its relationship to belief it is widely accepted that ageing is a journey which includes a spiritual dimension. This spiritual dimension focuses on meaning of life, hope and purpose, explored through relationships with others, with the natural world and with the transcendent.

Coleman provides us with a strong evidence base which suggests that a genuine and intentional accompaniment of people on their ageing journey; giving time, presence and listening are the core of good spiritual practice.  Reminiscence, life story, creative activities and meaningful rituals all help the process of coming to terms with ageing and change.

From this perspective we should be cautious of the secular bias in the academy as a barrier for those developing broader models of care for older people. Indeed the Churches should be challenging their ageism that profoundly devalues what older people can bring to a faith community. As a practical theologian I remain convinced that we need a more comprehensive theology of ageing to assist us in both thinking and practice of our adaptation to longevity in the twenty first century. It might even be seen as both prophetic and counter cultural as we embrace older age as possibly one of the most demanding periods of our lives. Coleman and his colleagues show us why religion must not be dismissed and that there is a positive relationship between belief, health and well-being.


Canon James Woodward Ph.D.

The College of St George, Windsor Castle.

Disturb us….

Disturb us….


This is a wonderful prayer attributed to an early Anglican explorer, Sir Francis Drake, whose chaplain held an Anglican service on the shores of the West Coast in 1579.



Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life,- having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth,

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wilder seas where storms will show your mastery,- where losing sight of the land, we shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes, and to push back the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus.



Challenging Power?

Challenging Power?



From yesterdays sermon:

(Luke 8. 26-39 )

Christians everywhere have for centuries both colluded with power and authority and challenged it by shining the light of the Gospel on it when it got out of hand. I believe we too today are called as Christians to challenge power when it becomes self-serving or even a self-replicating system of domination and oppression. When such authorities become uninterested in matters of social justice, the dignity of the individual, equality of opportunity, and the equality of all before God, then Christians must speak out.

To see what we hear we need to name those powers. Jesus asks the demons to name themselves. What kind of power is present when we invite people and events to name themselves? What is unleashed when we find ways to allow others to name their reality rather than us doing it for them?

Easter Wings

Easter Wings



Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:

With Thee
O let me rise,
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.

With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day Thy victorie;
For, if I imp my wing on Thine,


by George Herbert




Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied

And multiplied;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

George Herbert

long shadows

long shadows



Now that I know
How passion warms little
Of flesh in the mould,
And treasure is brittle,–

I’ll lie here and learn
How, over their ground
Trees make a long shadow
And a light sound.


Louise Bogan, Knowledge




God’s difference from us constitutes his transcendence. Transcendence does not – and never did in classical thought – mean spatial separation or ‘out-thereness’. Transcendence means, and always has meant, difference. God’s transcen- ( dence opposes pantheism, not intimacy. God is always here.


The truth of God’s transcendence still stands. God is near, but God is different. God is here, but man is dependent. God’s otherness is the otherness of Creator to creature, of Saviour to sinner; and it is for the creature still to worship the Creator and for the sinner still to ask for the Saviour’s grace. Without this the new Christianity of the secular city will lose its identity as Christianity and will deceive itself and mislead its citizens. And, on the other hand, those who cherish God’s transcendence will know that it is within the secular city that it has to be vindicated and that the transcendent and the numinous are to be seen not in a separated realm of religious practice but in human lives marked by an awe-inspiring self-forgetfulness, compassion, humility and courage. Such lives bear witness that we have here no continuing city, for we are looking for a city which is to come.


Institutions can become a fetish unless it is seen that their glory is not their own but the glory of Christ reflected in their self-effacement. The imagery in which Christians think about God can become a fetish if it circumscribes thought about God within the circle of religious interests and ceases to convey the God who cares about everything which happens in the world. Preoccupation about God’s laws can become a fetish if it allows devotion to the commands and the pro­hibitions to replace devotion to God whose commands and prohibitions they are. The Sacraments can become the focus of veneration instead of being windows into the sacrifice of Calvary and the actions of the living Christ. Equally the moods and phrases of evangelical piety can substitute a kind of self-contemplation for the self-forgetful contemplation of God and obedience to him. It is by a constant self-criticism of our own idolatries that we Christians can learn again and present to our contemporaries the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Michael Ramsey

The challenges of buidling community

The challenges of buidling community

 Some fragments ofreflection on the divisions of the Church during the week of Paryer for Christian Unity.


Our experiences of moral failure, group meltdowns, per­sonal pettiness, and partisan harshness in congregations and communities make us wonder if our efforts in building community are worth the trou­ble. We often invest great hope in our Christian communities, and when there are serious ruptures, it feels as if part of the kingdom has been tram­pled. How is it that people who want closer relationships and deeper expe­riences of shared life sometimes find themselves in terribly difficult situa­tions — sorting out betrayals, broken commitments, and creeping cynicism?


Growing into the likeness of Christ and into the church as it is  supposed to be cannot be separated from the messiness and disappointments that are part of human relationships. We can protect ourselves from such difficul­ties only by cutting ourselves off from our relationships, and that is rarely a satisfactory option. Nevertheless, we can build and maintain congrega­tions — just like we do with marriages, families, monastic communities, and businesses — in better and worse ways. Good communities and life- giving congregations emerge at the intersection of divine grace and steady human effort.

And be thankful??

And be thankful??


Hundreds of years ago, Thomas a Kempis worried about our ten­dency to overlook the small gifts on the way to wanting more, and urged those who longed to grow in Christ-likeness, “Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favors. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God.”


When our lives are shaped by gratitude, we’re more likely to notice the goodness and beauty in everyday things. We are content; we feel blessed and are eager to confer blessing. We are able to delight in the very existence of another human being. In a grateful community, individuals and their contributions are acknowledged and honored, and there is regular testi­mony to God’s faithfulness, through which the community experiences the joys of its members. Expressions of gratitude help make the commu­nity a live to the Word, the Spirit, and God’s work.

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

On the Mystery of the Incarnation


It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

Denise Levertov (1923–1997)