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No Agenda but Love




We all have met many people who live lives that reflect the graceful, generous, forgiving, non-violent and simple lifestyle that is written all over the pages of the gospels.

We don’t “get to God”; it’s more about letting God get to us.

It’s not so much about becoming holy, as about being wholly human – and therefore celebrating and living from the holiness that we already are – but don’t realize it, and mightn’t even call it as such.

It’s more about accepting, holding and letting Love into the reality of what is – in all of its beauty and its blemishes, its hope and its hells.

Being lovingly present to whatever is is the encounter with God, and the great stories of the gospels become enfleshed within our lives – whether or not we name them as encounters with God.


These thoughts celebrate the lives of all those

who’ve risked living boldly, faithfully, tenderly and truly –

all in the name of Love.



“No Agenda but Love” may seem a rather strange title for a piece of reflective work. It doesn’t sound very theological, it doesn’t seem to echo rarified spiritual insights and truths, and it certainly doesn’t radiate the confidence of providing a watertight bastion of truth and certainty. What, then, is this manuscript about?

In these few pages of offerings, I have wanted to give voice to something which to me seems so patently true, yet in some religious circles, can sound a revolutionary and even dangerous thing to utter. What might this be?

My main hope in my book The Freeing of God (2009) was to communicate that if we let the years teach us – through moments such as love, death, failure, sickness, prayer and mystery – we find that the essence of the gospel life is about being and becoming truly human. Through this, we’re able to discover more of the real nature of God.

Yet an extension of this is also true: that as we let ourselves live and relate more honestly, the gospel stories are lived within us and through us – without our even knowing it or needing to name it. We all have met many people who live lives that reflect the graceful, generous, forgiving, non-violent and simple lifestyle that is written all over the pages of the gospels.

Many might object to such a statement, and may stress the importance of our being able to name correctly the theological truths of salvation and redemption, in order to come into “be saved” and be at rights with God.

It seems though that Jesus is far more interested in encouraging people to forgive and cherish, to act justly and honestly, and to approach life and its mysteries humbly and with confidence in God’s faithfulness. Why would God need to make sure that people held correctly formulated theological theories? (Surely descriptions of the divine are beyond words anyway!) What does this say about God? Why would God need to damn people to everlasting torture, simply because they did not have the right scriptural words or notions in their heads when they died? Again, what does this say about God? Why would people want to fall in love with a God like this?

If God has a hang-up about correct concepts and approved beliefs, and is prepared to torment us endlessly and forever – all apparently in the name of divine justice – because we didn’t subscribe to the right expressions of these, then absurd as it seems, we must admit that we have all met others who apparently are far more forgiving and merciful than God!

Christianity holds that Jesus, as the perfect Icon of God, reveals the heart and soul of God (if we can employ these anthropomorphic terms about God). It seems that whenever Jesus speaks of salvation and living in what he termed “the Kingdom of God”, he is referring not to a club for “the saved” which excludes those who are “the unsaved”, but rather to a way of life that is all-encompassing and all-embracing. He is referring to a way of seeing, a way of loving, a way of holding, a way of cherishing, a way of suffering with, a way of working for and celebrating the dignity of all of humanity and all of creation.

Jesus believes God is already here. We don’t get to God; it’s more about letting God get to us. It’s not about becoming holy, so much as about being wholly human and therefore celebrating and living from the holiness that we already are – but don’t realize. It’s about accepting the reality of what is – in all its beauty and its blemishes, its hope and its hells. Being lovingly present to whatever is is the encounter with God, and the great stories of the gospels become enfleshed within our lives – whether or not we name them as such.

It is with this hope that I penned “No Agenda but Love”. The whole reason for God creating the universe was so that God could express God’s nature which is love: love within the beauty, love within the tragedy, love within the hope and the heartache, and love within the stupidity and the sublime. In the beginning it was Love, in the end it will be Love, and throughout the sweep of cosmic history it is Love that is the very breath of life.


Patrick Oliver

Brisbane, January 2011


The angel Gabriel visits Mary of Nazareth ...

If you’ve ever listened deep within you to a voice – 

a voice not of your own making

but which whispers an invitation

that will take you past the known,

through the untrodden

and into a pregnancy of the unexpected …


            an opportunity comes out of the blue

            some news catches you off guard

            your life takes an unexpected turn …


when you’re asked

to consider something you never dreamed, or

to imagine something  you never would have considered …


            someone says they love you

            someone believes the best about you

someone offers you the chance to start again


when you’re asked to let go your illusions about

who you are and who others are,

what life should be and who God should be …


when you know you can rely no longer

upon your clever expertise

to procure that magical rabbit from your hat,

to snatch yet another victory from the jaws of defeat,

to pretend you really can keep all the balls in-flight, or

to keep

your glistening competence silky smooth …


yet with dread and faith,

with reservation and openness,

you somehow summon the courage

to whisper “yes” to this inviting voice,

and wonder why on earth you’re doing so –


then you’re embodying the spirit of Mary

at the angel’s visitation (Luke 1:26-38)





Mary's visitation to her cousin Elizabeth ...

If you’ve ever unburdened to a soulmate,

and trusted that

because life has schooled them in serenity,

then they’re able to hold and reverence

your perhaps strange but sublime secret news

that stretches the skin of your soulspace,

wherein the embodied hopes and enfleshed dreams

leap for joy in the very presence of each other …


then you’re embodying

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56)





The birth of Jesus ...

If you’ve ever found

that amidst all the wrong timings,

the wrong places, the dashed self-expectations

and the lash of others’ misunderstandings,

you’ve let emerge

from your heart and into your world


a fresh call and promise that simultaneously

is not you and yet so you

that your outlooks and sensitivities

can never return to status quo …


If you find you must vacate the hustle-bustle

and retreat to the solitude of your soul cave,

to let be born

something rather less sophisticated and chic

than what you may have envisaged …


If you sense the surfacing

of an ache for innocence,

for fullness, for completion,

for the chance to start again 


If you’ve grown weary of meeting the world

with the same old cynicism and sarcasm,

and you long to let yourself greet the now

with eyes that perceive freshly, and

you can let your soul sparkle anew

and be surprised … 


If you sense within you

a fragility beyond description,

yet somehow it finds itself in rhythm

with an ache for union with the infinite:

a nostalgia for a paradise you’ve always known

in your deepest cellular memory …


then you’re embodying the Nativity

(Matthew 1:18-25)




The Wise Men and the Shepherds ...

If you’ve ever let the strange and foreign,

the alien and unusual, the pariahs and outsiders

not baulk you

but beckon you into a less controlling grip

of what should be, and

into a more panoramic perception of reality …


or if you’ve discovered

you’ve become an outsider to others –


you don’t receive invitations you once did,

you aren’t deemed one of the insiders, or

you’re viewed as somewhat dangerous, heretical,

a little crazy or worse –


yet your heart knows you couldn’t exchange

what has come to birth in you

for all the gold and glitter in the world …


then you’re experiencing the world

of the Magi and shepherds (Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 2:8-20)


The massacre by King Herod ...

If the implications start to seep through

about what it really means

to let something new and life-giving

form and take flesh in your life,

you might well be left feeling

rather daunted and dismayed.


The flow-on from the presence

of the nascent life within you

can leave you vulnerable to change;

can leave you vulnerable to the unknown;

can leave you vulnerable to discomfort;

can leave you vulnerable to risk and exposure, and

can leave you anxious and not in control.


Something in you might prefer

that the dawn of the new be fettered and slowed,

and your clammy leathery old ways

begin to feel not so rough after all –

in fact, they can suddenly seem strangely snug.


And if you don’t know what to do

with the fear and dread of


starting anew, believing anew,

hoping anew, loving anew,

leaving the familiar and

embracing the unfamiliar,

stepping back or stepping up –


then you may well export the anxiety

of such threatening change

onto those around you, so they too

can be dragged into the downdraught –  and

so they too can grow as miserable as you.


You can douse their hopes with

“it’s always been this way”,

you can slash their tenacity with

“who do you think you are?” and

you can gash their buoyancy with

“why should anything wonderful happen to you?”


The radiance of new birth can be aborted

to ensure that the “same old same old”

can remain entrenched,

happy in its caged misery.


If you have visited this space –


then you’ve experienced within you

the spite of King Herod (Matthew 2:13-18)




The years at Nazareth ...

If you’ve ever entered

into the depths of the ordinary,

where you notice

how the days can turn into weeks

and the months into years

without the fanfare of the spectacular,

the miraculous or spiritual amazements – 


yet you can still stay awake

to the whispers and intimations of your soul …


then you’ve embodied

the hidden life of Jesus (Luke 3:51-53)

The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan ...

If you’re ever graced

with the gift of the trust of another

who steadfastly loves you for no reason,

whose faithfulness

calls out the best from within you,

who promises to believe in you

throughout the perils and pitfalls

and into a new day,


and who proclaims to you through


            how they spend their time

            how they spend their money

            how they meet misfortune

            how they treat their foe

            how they live justly and tenderly

            how they hold the past

            how they await the future


that laying down one’s life in love

is neither naďve nor a trap …


then you’re experiencing the spirit

of the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11)



Jesus' temptations in the desert ...

If you’ve ever been dropped into circumstances

where you’re tempted

to suppose that the layers upon layers

of posturing and posing, proving and protecting

actually are you –


that you are your feats and failures,

            that you are your image and looks

            that you are your riches and rags

            that you are your baubles and beads

            that you are what others think

            that you are what you think


            that you must be nice to everyone

that you must be seen as special

that you must be seen as right

            that you must always have answers

            that you must have escape hatches

            that you must have the last word

that you must be a good boy or girl

            that you must have others’ respect


yet you reverently respond

by choosing to breathe

from that secret space in your soul

where you again taste the texture of the Love

which once tenderly whispered your name,

and the Love which again delights in telling you

of how you’ve always belonged to Goodness …


then you’re embodying Jesus’ approach

to meeting temptation (Luke 4:1-13)


Jesus sets out on his ministry ...

If you ever stir to your spirit’s wild wake-up call

and rise to the quest of venturing

into what you know in your heart’s heart

you’ve been called to do,


and you know that it goes beyond

what those around you might expect of you,

or what they’re able to hold

within the fortified borders

of their manicured minds …


then you’re embodying

the initiation of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:16-22)




 Jesus calls his disciples ...

If you’ve ever felt the tug

to go beyond

the confining opinions of your clan,

to live beyond the jail of your job, and

to know you’re worth more

than what the slick witty billboard

and the latest hot movie says you should be …


If you’ve felt the whisper

of something more venerable

than your deepest memory,

of something more ancient

than the century upon century

of human footfall upon the earth …


If this whisper imparts

what you almost dare not think

in case it melts

like a snowflake before your eyes,

yet through the steady drip of time

it grows more indestructible than steel …


If you know you must

leave behind all that you thought

named you, formed you and possessed you,


you can let your lifestyle proclaim

to anyone who cares to see

that the only way into being truly you

is to be radically named, formed and possessed

by the Love that outloves anything else.


If you’ve sensed that this is the way for you

to truly live …


then you’re embodying Jesus’ call

to the disciples (Matthew 4:18-22)



The Sermon on the Mount ...

If you’ve ever found yourself

tiring of the trinkets and bored with the badges

which others insist you must chase,

and a longing arises for a more simple lifestyle

where you can live

free from the burden of bitterness, and

from a font of mercy not your own …


where you no longer need to tote up grievances

so you can call in your due; and

where your wish is to live in universal amnesty

with yourself, with your adversary, and

with the way your life has turned out …


then you’re embodying

the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)




 The Transfiguration ...

 If you’ve ever let yourself

be blown away in amazement,

be overcome with awe or

be humbled into grateful silence

before the Mystery that defies description,


and you are told deep in your bodily cells

that you cannot fall out

of the Nest of mercy and graciousness …


then you’re sharing a moment in the life

of the transfigured Jesus (Matthew 17:1-8)



Jesus' healings ...

If you’ve ever met those

who’ve been crippled and cursed

by a fragile scared society,

or snubbed and shunned by tribal blindness,


and you find

that heart meets heart and gaze meets gaze,

that compassion gets pulled out from you,


and you’re caught up

in an interchange of presence

which you don’t create and

you know you don’t sustain …


then you’re embodying

Jesus the healer (Luke 7:1-17)


Jesus tells us to be born again ...

If you ever discover yourself

caring with a compassion

that’s not coming simply from you …


or if you’re speaking out

when previously

you’d have taken refuge in self-pity …


or if you have decided to love again

when there is no rhyme, no reason

or no reward for doing so …


or if you find you’re making a decision

not because of anything you might gain or lose,

but because deep in your soul

you know you must decide this way

if you’re to be honest in your truest self …


then you’re embodying being born again …

and again …and again … (John 3:1-21)


The Syro-Phoenician woman ... 

If you’ve ever been pulled up short by someone

who obviously isn’t from your side of the tracks,

who obviously doesn’t possess

your depth of learning and experience, and

who has the gall to question the way “it’s always been” –


it can be a strange and rattling sensation, for


they don’t say things in the way they should,

they don’t behave in the way they should, and

they don’t accord you the respect

you think you deserve …


yet what if the things they’re saying

might just be closer to how God sees things?


If you let yourself consider such a possibility,


then you’re embodying the experience

of Jesus with the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28)


 Blind Bartimaeus ...

If you’ve ever felt a bubbling,

a simmering, an upsurge of spirit,

a pushing of prison walls,

a weariness with nonchalance, and

a boredom with apathy …


If something in you cries out

that it longs to live the risk and red blood of life rather than hiding behind

the stockades of security and

the parapets of supposed certainty …


If something in you longs to see again


as you did before the hurts heaped up

as you did before the prejudices piled up

as you did before the shame stacked up …


If something in you longs

to melt the arctic freezing out,

to abandon the need to be one-up, and

to discard the expectation of rejection


so you can see as you once saw,

held as you once held, and

cherish as you once allowed yourself to do …


then you’re embodying the pleading

of Blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35-43)





 Jesus walks on water ...

If you’ve ever caught your spirit singing,

despite and within moments of uncertainty …


If you’ve ever caught your soul in love,

despite all the compelling and sensible reasons

for folding up and folding in …


If you’ve ever caught your heart

bestowing amnesty,

with nothing to claim and no-one to blame …


            you catch yourself smiling at a flower

            you let flow a moment of mercy

you can let this minute be as it is.


There’s no past to airbrush,

no future to micro-manage.


There’s no burden of baggage to trawl through,

there’s no load of past failures to atone for,

there’s no weight of expectation to meet …


There’s simply here, there’s simply now,

there’s simply Love.


If you’ve been held in these kinds of moments,


then you’re embodying Jesus’ capacity

to walk on water (John 6:16-21)



 Jesus clears the Temple ...

 If your soul-eyes ever open to witness

the endless bulwarks which people erect

to impede their presence to others –


“I’ll forgive them if they’d say they’re sorry!”

“I’d be kind if they were more considerate!”

“Don’t they know who they’re talking to?”

 “At least I’m better than he!”

“At least I’m not as bad as she!”

“It isn’t I who’ve done anything wrong!”

“He offended me again!”

“Doesn’t she remember all I’ve done for her?”


a divine urgency might bubble up in you

to break through these cemented fortifications

that buy and sell relationships –

these hurdles that hamper

the flow of genuine communion.


We see so many withered and wandering souls

longing to be told

that yes, they are broken but they are blessed;

that yes, they are wounded but they are holy;

that yes, they are scared but they are sacred.

A voice can cry from deep within us:


“What are you doing?

Why your need to exact a toll

for others to be admitted

into your worthiness circle?

Get rid of your Checkpoint Charlie

who scans and scrutinizes

another’s admission papers!


“Let there be genuine awareness

of the Sacred’s genuine presence between us!

Let our embrace become a Holy of Holies

from which life-giving grace can flow!”


If such a transformation begins to occur in you,


then you’re embodying Jesus’ cleansing

of the temple (Mark 11:15-19)



 The Samaritan woman at the well ...

If you’ve ever been entrusted

with someone’s story,

brimming with dusty secrets

that have never seen the light of day,

and they’ve sensed

that you’re not the kind of person

to ridicule them, moralize

or walk away in disgust …


then with a grateful heart

they confide that many moons ago

they had made up their minds

to never ever disclose their story to anyone –


            they’d harden their heart

            they’d silence their soul

            they’d solidify their spirit.


Yet now they stand and straighten up

to gift you with their soul’s secret:


“Something’s different –

I can live with myself a little more now.

You’ve called out from me

what I didn’t know I had;

you’ve awakened in me the realization

that I had succumbed to the tribal lie

that fences and barbed wire

were what it was all about.


“Fences didn’t so much keep others out,

as they kept me in by imprisoning my perceptions

in puny cells of self-righteous squalor.

I want to breathe again, to embrace again,

to love my life with a passion

I thought long ago had shriveled!”


If this is part of your story,


then you’re embodying Jesus’ encounter

with the Samaritan Woman (John 4:3-42)




Jesus calms the storm on the lake ...

If you’ve been caught up and caught out

in a storm that’s come from nowhere,

you’ve probably lodged a formal complaint

to the heavens that such a pickle

is unfair, untimely,

unkind and unjust.


Yet perhaps you grow sensitive to noticing

a tiny and almost imperceptible space within you

which like a lighthouse

in the midst of a chopped and tossed sea

proclaims in the midst of the fury and fear


            that you’re not your ups

and you’re not your downs;

            that you’re not your opinions

and you’re not your plans;

            that you’re not your past

and you’re not what’s to come.


The more you let this voice

echo around the chambers of your heart,

you can allow the seeping through

of what you’ve always known –


beyond the gates of fear

            beyond the cobwebs of ghostly voices

            beyond the practical and pragmatic

            beyond any peace of mind


and into a peace of soul that does not feed

upon judgment, evaluating,

categorizing and ranking,

but can see as Love sees

because it desires what Love desires.


If this sometimes is true for you,


then you’re embodying Jesus

who calms the storm (Mark 4:35-40)

The coming of the Son of Man ...

If you’ve ever noticed how swiftly or slowly through the years

you build your little rostrum

so those in your patch can be reminded that


            you’re in control, you’re on the wrong path

you’re such a winner, you’re such a loser

            you’re such a hero, you’re such a wimp

            you’ve done it so well, you’ve done it so poorly

            you … you … you …


but the lights go out and the stars then fall,

the certainties crumble

and the assumptions crumple,

and in this moment of the end of your world,

all that you thought and all that you knew

now matter for naught –


then don’t anaesthetize the pain.


Stay awake and scan the skies

for the coming of the moment

to say “yes” to the unknowing, and

to the chance for kinder sight and keener insight.


For you never know the day or the hour

when the chance to become

more completely human,

more compassionately human,

more radically human,

more realistically human,

more daringly human,

more divinely human


will creep through or crash through

into your consciousness.


If you stay awake to this,


then you’re embodying

the coming of the Son of Man (Luke 21:5-38)



The invitation to live in the Kingdom ...

If you’ve ever experienced the veil parting,

you know for a moment what really matters:


that forgiveness is a place from which to live

that you aren’t an isolated little monad

that holiness isn’t a worthiness game


that prayer is a way of breathing

that non-violence is the only way to allow presence

that you need your enemy to teach you


that you, your friend and your enemy are one

that excluding those different from you is death

that secular and sacred aren’t different places


that you’re most secure when you cling to nothing

that you’re most wealthy when nothing owns you

that you can’t base your life on the system 


that your little life is never for naught

that it’s never the end of the story

that you’re already home eternally within Love.



If the veil has ever parted like this,


then know that you’re being invited

to live from within the spirit

of the Kingdom of God




The Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet ...

 If you’ve ever been the recipient

of someone’s unpredicted and unexpected

open-hearted generosity,

you may have been left open-mouthed –

for their humble action can affirm

that their esteem for you

is beyond weighing and measuring …


Their expression may declare

that they value you for no reason

and for no outcome, and

they see goodness in you

that you yourself might be unable to see.


The strength of affection

with which you’re tenderly held

is enfleshed in their willingness

to take the risk of being hurt, ignored,

even deceived and rejected,

ripped up and chewed up –


if that’s what it requires for you to know

how much you mean to them.


If you have ever received

such commitment from someone,


then you’re receiving the spirit

of the Last Supper

and the washing of the feet  (John 13:1-20)






 The Garden of Gethsemane ...

If you’ve ever found yourself

feeling the pinch and the punch

of holding tightly

for the sake of remaining true and faithful …


if you’ve found yourself

wanting to fall asleep to life’s absurdities,

but knowing you must keep vigil

to see this soul season through …


if you’ve found yourself sweating blood and tears

because you’ve said “yes” long ago

and you still say “yes” to your chosen commitment,

despite wanting to dissolve and disappear

into the darkness …


then you’re embodying Jesus’ experience

in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)




Jesus' love of Judas ...

If you’ve ever held out your beating heart

in trust to someone and had it thrown into the dust …

or you find you’ve been sold out and sold up

by your good friend

who gets all the gain and you get all the pain:

betrayed, handed over, traded on the cattle market …


yet for some unspeakable, irrational, countercultural reason

you desire not revenge and you wish no harm

but only peace for that person …


If you find yourself longing for the melting

of the ice castle they have become

so the real human being that you knew,

still remember and still love

might emerge to be at peace again …


then you’re embodying

Jesus’ love of Judas (Matthew 27:11-14)



Jesus' Trial ...

If you’ve ever experienced

unfair judgment and ridicule

at the hands of others

who’ve previously applauded you,

and you can think of every reason under the sun

to sting back and spit back and strike back – 


yet something anchors you to your core

from where you can be radically true

to what is best and most merciful in you,

so your heart can walk forever free …


then you’re embodying Jesus

in his trial (John 18:28-38)





The Carrying of the Cross ...

If you find you must carry the cost

of being responsible for your choices –


            for walking a different path from others

            for relinquishing tribal loyalties

for taking up this and letting that go

for not going down the path of “poor me”

for holding firm to what you believe


and you refuse to blame and shame others

for what may have happened to you …


then you’re embodying

the Carrying of the Cross (Mark 15:22)





 Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem ...

If on this journey

you find yourself being merciful for no reason

or being compassionate for no gain,

and love gets pulled out

from an interior deep well

that you did not know was even there …


then you’re meeting

the wailing women of Jerusalem (Luke 22:27-31)




 Simon the Cyrene ..

If when you travel

this discomforting and disconcerting road

of holding firm to being deeply true,


make sure you can allow yourself

to receive support without strings

from unexpected quarters,

and not reject it because it might not be

as you might have envisaged.


If at this time you do receive this assistance

of an affirming word, of a gentle presence

of an encouraging dream,


then you’re being granted

the help of Simon the Cyrene (Luke 22:26)




Jesus is stripped of his garments ...

If you’ve endured the soul-stripping suffering

of having had ripped from you

your treasured needs


to be right, to be acceptable,

to be in charge,

to play the victim,

to be invulnerable or

to be the “good boy or girl”,


and you are left naked

with nothing to prove, nothing to protect,

and nothing to boast about …


then you’re embodying Jesus

in his being stripped of his garments (Matthew 27:27-31)





Jesus' crucifixion ...

If you’ve chosen

to let mercy and graciousness nail you

to a commitment

where you’re receiving no thanks,

no applause, and perhaps

only disgruntled dismissal and hostile rebuff –


yet you know

that to adopt the same weapons of war

would be death to your soul

and betrayal of your very essence …


then you’re embodying

the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27:32-44)




 Jesus' descent from the cross ...

 If at this point

you trustfully and gently surrender

into the unknowing

and let endings be endings –


although you cannot see where you are,

where you are going, or

what anything means anymore …


then you’re embodying Jesus in his death

and descent from the cross (Matthew 27:45-56)



Jesus is laid in the sepulchre ...

 If you’ve learned to wait in hope

            within the midst

            of the not-knowing and the unresolved,

            the disappointment and the defeat,


then you can let the tender darkness hold you

in a mutual solidarity,

and allow your soul-eyes to sense in the gloom

the stirrings of new possibilities

which you could not even begin to imagine …


If you know this has been true for you,


then you’re embodying Jesus

in his being laid in the sepulchre  (John 19:38-42)


Jesus is resurrected ..

If you’ve found arising within you

a new strength

to go past the old hurts, the old hang-ups and old imprisoning perceptions,

and now wish to live

more honestly and non-violently

with yourself, others and creation …


If you sense in your spirit

the indestructible conviction

that nothing is a waste,

but is simply the raw material

for the divine energy of love

to transform

into as yet unimagined portals of grace

for the world …


then you’re embodying the spirit

of the Resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:1-12)




The experience of Mary Magdalene ...

If you’ve become aware

that every fibre of your being craves to cling

to that with which you’ve grown familiar –

so much so

that fear’s fog prevents you

from seeing what’s in front of you …


yet you sense a still, small voice that resounds

like a familiar footfall’s echo in your heart,

and it holds and heals the ache

that had sprung from the dread of separateness …


then you’re embodying

Mary Magdalene at the tomb (John 20:11-18)


The experience of Thomas ...

If ever your wounds of hurt,

rejection and disappointment

have locked you into endless rounds

of ambiguity and anxiety,

and culminate in an internal vow by you

to never risk again, start again or trust again …


and then you gingerly accept an invitation

to touch and be touched

by the wounds of another …


these wounds can begin

to melt the frozen feelings;

they can soften the solidified soul and

unbolt shut-tight eyes to the presence

of faithfulness, Mystery and mercy.


If you’ve experienced this thawing,


then you’re embodying Thomas

after the resurrection (John 20:24-29)



 The experience of Peter ...

If fear has ever plucked you up

and dropped you into the wilderness of failure,

the wasteland of folly

and the quicksand of self-loathing,

and all you can hear in your ear

are the saw-toothed shrieks

of criticism and condemnation –


but then in a moment of transparency

you hear a truer song of your soul that tells you


not only what you really desire,

but also that you’re desired;


not only what you really wish to choose,

but also that you’re being chosen; and


not only that there’s one

to whom you really wish to give your heart,

but also that this one

has already given their heart to you


If this makes you ready to meet any twist of fate

because you know you’re truly loved


then you’re embodying Peter

after the resurrection (John 21:15-19)



The road to Emmaus ...

If you’ve ever been privileged

to have been held by another’s listening heart,

you may suddenly sense your soul aflame – 


because what you previously regarded as random

and formerly discarded as dross

actually is woven together with a cord

which caresses your splintered spirit,

and which connects you with the larger story

of broken and blessed humanity.


If this has been a part of your pilgrimage,


then you’re embodying the Emmaus journey (Luke 24:13-35)



The Ascension ...

If you’ve ever let the veils fall,

and you’ve realized

that even though the old ways of meeting life

have served you well,


almost without recognizing it

something has taken you past the need to cling

to accustomed habits and favoured rituals

to people you thought you couldn’t live without

to situations you thought you couldn’t do without

to perceptions you surely couldn’t function without

to what you were sure you couldn’t possibly be able

to surrender

to the fear of letting go,

so you could learn that real presence

can be experienced through absence


If you find you’ve ascended in these ways –

            not through your own cleverness

            but through a grace-ful surrender 

            to a higher intensity of seeing –


it becomes impossible to go back

to where you were living before …

you begin to see all of life –

the trees, the ants,

your next-door neighbour, your enemy –

as dwelling places of the divine,

and you know in your deepest cells

that the divine heartbeat and yours

are and always will be

the one heartbeat …


If you can identify with such a gift,


then you’re embodying the spirit

of the Ascended Jesus (Mark 16:9-20)



 The Pentecost experience ...

If you’ve ever noticed that your heart’s doors,

which previously had been deadlocked


            by the dread of the different

            by the terror of failure

            by the fear of disparagement

            by the ache of inadequacy


are now being opened wide to the world …


If you’ve become aware of an inner fire

that has been burning there for some time,

and it is giving you a desire and energy

to fully come home to yourself –

you’ll discover that


            reticence is outloved by daring

            distrust is outloved by faith, and

            narrowness of vision is replaced

            by seeing what is most truly human

            and most truly divine in all whom you meet.


If you’ve found this fire has burned within you,


then you’re embodying

the spirit of Pentecost  (Acts 1:1-47)





If you let the breath of mercy flow through you

If you let the hand of compassion steer you

If you let the arm of justice guide you


If you forget your front

and forget your facade

If you forget your pretence

and forget your petard


If you let Love’s claim capsize you

If you let the breath of justice wake you

If you let Love’s impartiality shake you



then you’re living from your home

within the heart of the Trinity







©Copyright 2020 Patrick Oliver