Saturday, 3 March 2012

Dancing waves and golden sands beneath a rainbow

The real gold at the rainbow’s end is found in our hearts and in God’s blessings ... the Burrow Beach at Portrane this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

The bright, clear weather that has arrived with this early Spring – and that kept a spring in my step around Lough Erne and Co Fermanagh for two days at the end of this week – continued into the weekend in Dublin: this morning, the sky was blue, the small clusters of clouds were bright in their whiteness, and despite the breeze the temperatures continued to hover in the mid-teens.

In the early afternoon, two of us went out to the Fingal coast in north Co Dublin, and found the tide was out at the Burrow Beach in Portrane. The forecasts said the rain would arrive later in the day, and with the flat golden sands stretching out below us, we seized the opportunity we had, rather than postponing our weekend walk beach until later in the day.

As we walked out to the shoreline, facing east towards Lambay Island, the tide was coming in slowly in little ripples and tiny playful waves that looked as though they were dancing playfully and sounded as if they were singing softly.

As we walked back up to the low grassy dunes, the golden sand was sparkling beneath my feet, when a light shower of sparkling rain started to fall. As I turned back to face towards the shoreline, with the sun behind my back, a full rainbow appeared beneath the clouds, in an arc that stretched from Rush to Lambay Island. Once or twice a second, shadow rainbow emerged above, as if, like a parent, caring to embrace the delicate bow beneath.

Three small, delighted children, who had busy making what may have been their first sandcastles of the year, playfully skipped out, hands stretched out, as if to grasp out towards the bow, or dreaming they might seek for the gold at its end.

But the crock of gold is never at the end of the rainbow – it is here in afternoons such as this, delighting in God’s creation and the reflections of God in humanity and in God’s world.

Sea shells in the sand on the Burrow beach in Portrane this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Poems for Lent (8): ‘Amen,’ by Leonard Cohen


Patrick Comerford

My choice of a Poem for Lent this morning is ‘Amen,’ by Leonard Cohen is from his latest album, Old Ideas, which was released to acclaim in January this year.

I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen since my teens. He was born in Montreal in 1934. He published his first volume of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956. His early influences included Lorca, Whitman, and Yeats.

His second volume of poetry, The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), brought him to wider attention in Canada, and a number of poems from that book are now included in Canadian school textbooks.

In 1963, he published his first novel, the autobiographical The Favourite Game, and this was followed three years later by his second novel, Beautiful Losers (1966), which critics have called Canada’s first post-modern novel.

Since 1967 and the release of Songs of Leonard Cohen, he has concentrated on his musical career, and has recorded 12 studio albums, and he continues to write and publish poetry.

His most recent book, Poems and Songs (2011), features a number of unpublished poems, including ‘Amen,’ ‘Darkness’ and ‘Lullaby’ – all three are also songs on this new album.

If you read this poem or hear this song as a prayer, then it is a prayer that cries out in solitude and in the midst of sinfulness and failure, seeking the reassurance of God’s love and acceptance.

Amen by Leonard Cohen

Tell me again when I’ve been to the river
And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst
Tell me again
We’re alone and I’m listening, Listening so hard that it hurts
Tell me again when I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again, Tell me over and over
Tell me that you want me then
Amen…

Tell me again when the victims are singing
And the Laws of Remorse are restored
Tell me again That you know what I’m thinking But vengeance belongs to the Lord
Tell me again when I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen…

Tell me again when the day has been ransomed
And the night has no right to begin
Try me again when the angels are panting
And scratching at the door to come in
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again, Tell me over and over
Tell me that you need me then
Amen…

Tell me again when the filth of the butcher
Is washed in the blood of the lamb
Tell me again when the rest of the culture
Has passed through the Eye of the Camp
Tell me again when I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen, Amen, Amen … Amen.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin