Sunday, 9 January 2011
In late July on sandy shores,
Where waves, bejewelled, sound out their roars
Two brothers and their sweethearts swim
As lovers do, when on a whim.
The ladies sat to bronze their skin
As brothers set out for a swim
The golden rays upon their backs
A time for fun, and to relax.
The elder of the brothers two,
Was of the clergy; his faith was true.
Upon the cross his life was laid
And by his book his sins repaid
His brother, five years less than he,
Believes what he can touch and see
He knows that faith should not be blind
He fears his death and knows his mind.
Their father named them as in the book,
The elder Peter, the younger Luke,
To set them on their holy path,
Which was trodden on by only half.
As happens oft when brothers play
They swam too far out of the bay,
The hauling waves had pulled them out
Towards the horizon and death, no doubt.
The waves clawed at their golden locks
And dragged them down towards the rocks
Into the silence of the murky deep
As mourning lovers watch and weep.
And just as they had shared a womb,
The brothers, too, would share their tomb.
For they swam too far out of the bay,
As happens oft when brothers play.
When they awoke, the sky was gone,
The sun no more, the sea withdrawn.
They stood on the road that leads to grace,
In a different kind of empty place.
Said Peter to his bother, Luke
‘Our time has come, and by the book
The waves crashed in and so the tide
Has brought us here, to the other side.’
And Peter knew his faith was strong,
He knew his life had done no wrong,
The time had come for him tell
Would it be Heaven? Could it be Hell?
‘In death,’ said Luke, ‘we find ourselves,
And was I wrong to not fear Hell?
I’ve lived my life as I saw fit
And my Judgement will my life befit.’
And so they walked on up the road,
To cast aside their weary loads,
And there find judgement from the one
Who guides the tides and sets the sun.
As Peter saw his brother’s face,
Walking towards the gates of grace,
His fate was out of his control
He thought: ‘God have mercy on my brother’s soul!’
For, a man who denies and rejects his faith
Cannot expect to be kept safe!
And when the hour of judgement comes
He’ll be marched away to Satan’s drums.
‘Some way up the road ahead,’
Peter, to his brother, said
‘I see a figure by a tree,
Playing guitar and singing sweetly.’
The music filled his brother’s ears
And nearly broke him down to tears
And looking up he spied the tree
And the lone guitarist singing sweetly.
They approached the figure, whose head was bowed,
And, said the elder, in a voice bold and loud
‘Are you the man who tends the gates?
Decider of paths, decider of fates?’
‘Are you the man whose name I took?
From holy tales from holy books?
Are you the man who has to say,
Who goes forth and who will stay?’
‘I doubt,’ said the figure, ‘If do we share a name.’
‘But I do choose your path as you rightly proclaim.
Sit by my feet as I play the guitar,
Then we shall see who you really are.’
As the figure looked up, to the brothers’ surprise,
She was a woman with beautiful deep green eyes.
They sat at her feet and bathed in her song,
But Peter felt sure that something was wrong.
‘You are not Saint Peter, who tends to the gates!
What makes you worthy to decide our fates?
Must he not judge us, and let us pass through,
If everything that I’ve learned be true?’
‘If everything you’ve learned is true,
Then I surely know much less than you!
But humour me, friends, and tell me, both,
The truth, as you are under oath.’
The elder brother spoke up first,
To clear his name and prove his worth.
He sat beneath the giant oak
And to the woman he softly spoke.
‘My father,’ he said, ‘was a man of the cloth;
He spun me his prayers like silk from a moth
And eagerly, I soaked them in,
Rejected the Devil, rejected my sins.’
‘I listened as the Lord would show me the path,
I felt His love and feared His wrath
I made no wrongful use of his name
No idols put my faith to shame.
I did not kill, nor did I steal, and I blessed the Sabbath day
I did not bear false witness or commit adultery
My life was as a slave to my Lord
I lived by His word and died by His sword.’
‘I sacrificed my own life in service to His grace,
I longed to walk beside Him and gaze upon His face.
I rejected those who lie with a man as one would with a woman
To do so is an abomination on all that makes us human.’
‘On their eyes,’ he said, ‘I took no pity,
And banished them from the Lord’s committee.
Stamped their sins out in their youth,
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’
‘A missionary in a Godless land,
His grace to fill their waiting hands.
I fought for the truth about where we began
The Garden of Eden, the origin of man.’
‘I fought with the science that seeks to disprove
All of the mysterious ways that he moves.
If they did strike me, and as I am meek,
I would simply smile and turn the other cheek.’
The woman chuckled quietly,
As brother Peter made his plea.
‘Does my faith amuse you, friend?
Why do you laugh? What do you intend?’
‘Forgive me Peter, please go on,
I merely chuckled when musing upon
The obedience you gave and the guidance you seek,
Eye for eye, with turn of cheek.’
‘So, if I need to confess, I know not my sin
But it is no sin so reckless as to not let me in.’
Peter looked round, then, and turned to his brother
And pleaded a case for the second son of his mother.
‘Forgive my brother, for I confess,
His is one soul I could not bless.
He rejected the fold and being one of us,
Forgive him… for he knows not what he does.’
The younger brother had listened well
As Peter backed away from Hell
Until the woman looked up at last,
And asked, ‘Now, Luke, why should you pass?’
‘My Brother,’ said Luke, ‘is an honest man,
And no doubt the most faithful of all of God’s lambs
But when he confessed that I strayed from the fold
He did not convey all the reasons I hold.’
‘My faith is in nature, the birds and the bees
That which I can touch; that which I can see.
I believe, perhaps disgracefully, that faith should not be blind.
I lived to choose my destiny and master my own mind.’
‘To cheat my mind of logic, where there is no way to tell,
If we should become God’s servants or forever burn in Hell!
I chose to be free to decide myself what was right or wrong
Not be bullied into doing good by angels’ song.’
‘I did not kill, nor did I steal,
Nor under any idols kneel
I chose, as I did, to love my life
And not spend it trying to win a place in paradise.’
‘And if I am to believe in all that I’m told,
There was no greater bully than the God of old!
Heathens and children would die at his hands
Ask Abraham about his divine demands!’
‘I chose not the shackles of a deity’s laws,
I did not indulge any missionary’s cause.
I chose to be free from a life on my knees
Before an impossible God I could never have pleased.’
‘So, if I need to confess, then these are my sins,
But if my brother is right, you cannot let me in.
So please pass your judgement and please, make it swift.
Embrace the believer and set me adrift.’
The brothers sat in silence, now,
As the woman sat with furrowed brow
Weighing up what they had said
And pondering where to send the dead.
‘If, Brother Peter, your God does exist,
To walk at your side in eternal bliss,
And if his face you long to see,
All you need to do is gaze upon me.’
‘For he is a she; and she is me,
The creator of all the things that be,
You tell me that you spread my word,
And lived the life that I preferred.’
Said she to Peter, ‘Have we met before?
Have you ever come knocking, here at my door?’
Peter was stunned and replied, of course, ‘No.’
‘Then,’ she replied, ‘How do you know?’
‘How do you know what I deem to be right?
Have I ever given you a war to fight?
The word you have followed is the word of man,
And you followed along like a little lost lamb.’
‘But I read from the book that came from your pen!’
‘No,’ she replied. ‘They were the words of men.’
‘I followed the laws that you carved on the stone!’
‘…And you knelt before an empty throne.’
‘I am not displeased,’ she said unto him
‘That you wasted your life on a religious whim
It just seems to me you were made a slave
By a system from which you could have been saved.’
‘These answers,’ said she, ‘That you claim to know,
Only let your ignorance show!
Of up above or down below,
At least your brother admits what he does not know.’
‘Did not the Bible,’ said Peter, ‘descend from your quill?
Does not it preach of your own divine will?’
‘Mankind is free,’ she said, ‘to do as they choose,
I care not one jot if they win or they lose.’
‘What kind of God does not care for his lambs?’
‘The kind of God even I don’t understand.
I’m not the same as the God you perceive
I’m not the creator of your Adam and your Eve.’
Peter looked in her eyes and saw only truth.
‘Then my life was a lie since I was a youth…’
‘Why would I need obedience and servitude?
That is a truth that man concludes.’
‘Then tell me, master,’ Peter said,
‘What do you require instead?
If servants do not please your grace,
What would you have done in my place?’
‘I ask for nothing in return
And good or bad is not my concern
Without the darkness there is no light
And without peace there is no fight.’
‘I only ask that you shall live
And wonder at the gifts I give.
The shackles of a faith that’s blind
Hold you back and enslave mankind.’
‘Your brother, Luke, chose a different path,
He did not cower before mankind’s wrath.
He did not deny himself a chance to live well,
He was not enslaved by man’s fear of Hell.’
‘And so, by his will, his paradise is true,
And his questions asked more than I ever knew.
And Peter, your faith would burn hotter than Hell,
As you walked with your devil whilst under his spell.’
‘But look,’ said the woman, ‘it’s growing quite late,
And my patience grows weary for human debate.
Leave me now, and it ends as it was,
Before there was reason, before there was cause.’
‘As it always has been, you live and you die,
And not even I know the full reasons why.
So, goodnight friends for this is the end
Your path lies there, around the next bend.’