In retreat there is no retreat

We are chained in by conscience

And day after day

Are desperate to be done with it.

Alike spirits who like spirits

Will challenge the curfew

And drink into late evening.

Lord, is there nothing here for a drying soul?

Lord, there is nothing here for a crying soul.

My bed is made and unmade with listless lying.

Wine will beckon us to while time away

And push over the edge

Today’s last arid experience

Drowned in liquor and loud laughter.

But this dying week elbows an unwilling body

And conscience nags

To make some sort of sense of it.



At dawn the chill chapel calls

With a half-promise of peace.

The hard bench back hurts my arms

And as hard a wood my knees.

I look up and begin a prayer no further than

"O God …"

I see him looking down at me.

I see his face now frown at me.

I see surprise – surprise and pain.

He silently distresses me.

He is my lover wronged.

"How can this be" He says, "that you can hurt me so –

I who love; and know you have no hiding place?"

And aching-sharp astonishment fills His face.

He breaks my heart.


But for every time I turn away

He bears that same stinging smart

Of love so suddenly sheared off, and I the shearer.

The Lamb hangs on the old wood

But my nails are new and never His pain lessen.

Yet I know for certain now He loves me

And my crying drenches my desert.

He forgives me as I ask forgiveness

And tears gathered behind blinded glasses are brushed aside

Lest those now gathering for Mass might make enquiry.

Then He and I, we make offering of ourselves to the Father

And give praise for brittle days of breaking.


C. H. J.                       Return