Such a twee, old fashioned word.

Why is that when we are surprised by kindness, or by grace, or by someone refusing to be sucked into the vortex of offence/defence, it breaks us open?

What is it that makes plain old boring goodness so simultaneously stolid and transcendent?

To be good gets bad press. It conjures up image of pious pew polishers and middle England smugness. But goodness in action can frequently reduce me to tears.

It is easy to be ‘good’ in the hallowed cloister of a church, or under the scrutiny of people we might seek to impress. This is not the kind of offering Yahweh ever found acceptable (Amos 5, 21-24.) What is more difficult is to live out a life of love- which in these emotionally restrained islands is better understood as ‘goodness’. Although goodness is something else too… less about a passionate decision towards the other (whatever the motivation behind this passion) more like an instinctive skew towards an active kindness…

Defining goodness is not easy, but we all know it when we encounter it.

It is less important to label it in ourselves. Goodness is perhaps not an attainable goal for the pilgrim (but strangely, love might be.) Rather let us just be diligent in our search for goodness in others. We will always find it I think. Sometimes we will find a lot and then there is reason for song. And in doing this, I hope we may discover goodness by accident.

I have been pondering this (as is my wont) in poetry. I think I prefer this previous attempt, but here is today’s offering;



Smear of a tear

The diffident shuffle of an approaching shoe

The sound of breathing.


Choosing to stay here

In all this shit

Flecking this dark shadow

With morning manna


The pulse of your heartbeat

Taps at me like sonar

Against such there is no law…


A continuation of some stuff based around the list of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians chapter 5.

This poem kind of nods at all the fruit Paul mentions.

You can see the others by clicking on the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ category on the left.

Love is not against the law
Although in judicial circles
It is not encouraged

But where the Spirit of the Lord falls
Love is between us like oil on bearings

Joy is not forbidden
But wherever it breaks out
It is fragile
Like a bubble
In a pine forest

But where the Spirit of the Lord rests
Joy beats like a dancing drum in the middle of us
Calling us to dance

Peace is never prohibited
But like a dove above a shooting range
Its flight is fraught with danger

But where the Spirit of the Lord lives
The boundaries we keep are soft
And we are learning how
To forgive

Patience is permitted in most places
But only if you use it quickly

But where the Spirit of the Lord lingers
Patience is like the summer sun
Drawing out the sugars in the ripening fruit
Sweetening the harvest

Kindness is condoned even in the most unlikely places
But it will win you few contracts
And is not conducive to

But where the Spirit of the Lord comes close
Kindness kind of follows after

Goodness will not result in a jail sentence
But neither will it pay its way
In the global village superstore

But when the Spirit of the Lord smiles
Goodness becomes the common currency
Gentleness is no crime
And in many places it is a clinical necessity
But it is easily overlooked
In the shadow of another conquest

But where the Spirit of the Lord draws near
Then hands all rough from hard works
Become softened to hold
And to heal

Faithfulness is never a traitor
Yet we live like weathervanes
Spun by the seasons
To face the prevailing winds

But when the Spirit of the Lord moves
Promises no longer require the threat
Of legal recourse


Self control is thundered from the pulpit
But just in case the message falls on deaf ears
We deploy the secret pew police
Rule books at the ready
Swinging their
Truncheons of truth
To crunch the knuckles
Of the apostate

But when the Spirit of the Lord comes amongst us
There is a perfect law called…


Emily and Will, somewhere in Wester Ross, 2003

Emily and Will, somewhere in Wester Ross, 2003