Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday

Stormy sunset by Beren Hartless
 There is a Scottish legend that the cross of Christ was made from wood from an aspen tree. No Crofter will have aspen wood handles on his plough or his farming implements, and no fisherman will have an aspen wood mast or fishing tools. Even today the pendulous leaves of the aspen shake for shame.

The book of Hebrews tells us that the Son of God sustains all things by his powerful word and we read in the gospel of Matthew that as the Saviour died, the whole of creation shuddered.

In this poem, creation is given a voice.

1.       I am the Thorn

Torn from the bare earth,
wrenched from my roots,
I was broken and bent.
Twisted into a circlet, 
strained and stressed beyond belief,
stabbing all who strike my slender spines.
I would defend you, Lord, with my life.
Gladly I crown your brow.
Sadly I pierce your skin.
They used me to mock you,
the failed King of the Jews.

The victor in the games wears a diadem of laurel.
You have only me to wreathe your tortured brow.
But even the Thorn can blossom.
Tomorrow, a white flower will spring where your precious drops of blood have lain.
Discarded, I will bear mute testimony to your kingly reign.

2.       I am the wood

Hewn from the forest,
seasoned and shaped in the carpenter’s shed,
Master, you took and trimmed trees like me.
Lovingly, you stroked the grain,
Fashioning the wood with hands human and divine,
The Creator re-creating.
Now all I can do is to tear into your sides.
I wish your carpenter hands could have planed me
and sanded off the rough edges.
I hate wounding your flayed skin
with my slashing splinters.

Master of the universe,
I am your throne.
But this throne is gilded with pain
and stained with gore.

3.       I am the iron

Once, Lord, you took me and held me.
I was a tool in your hand.
I was the iron chisel you worked the wood with.
Then, I was your friend and companion,
watching Joseph teach you to make and carve useful things for people to enjoy,
working alongside you in your labour of creation.
Now I am useless and worse than useless. 
My every atom shrieks in protest
as I am hammered home,
nailing your hands and feet to the wood.

Now I am breaking and tearing you,
but you still hold and unfold me
in your broken flesh and splintered bone.

“Father, forgive them - they know not what they do.”

4.       I am the man

I am the soldier, the traitor, false friend.
I am the hater.
I laid the wood on his shoulders,
nailed his hands,
stripped him and scourged him,
mocked with the rest.

Mine are the hands which crushed the thorn upon Christ’s brow.
Mine are the hands which hung him high on the tree.
Mine are the hands which hammered home the nails of iron.

"Father, forgive."

B. I. Hartless

Monday, 21 December 2015

Jesus, Son of God, Son of Mary

Come, see the infant, born in a stable,
Child of promise, child of peace;
Here lies Messiah, King of the ages,
In his mother's arms asleep.
Word eternal, Lord of glory,
Leapt from heaven's royal throne.
To the silent, waiting world
He came, in darkness, to his own.

Here lies the baby, straw his pillow,
Cobwebs draped around his bed;
Frail and helpless, needing his mother
Still to help him lift his head.
He who left bright heaven's splendour,
Clouds his chariot, stars his crown,
Comes to us, his broken people,
Laying all his glory down.

Welcome Jesus, Lord and Saviour,
Son of heaven and child of earth,
Come to bring the hope of freedom
From a dark eternal death.
Love in person, Truth for ever,
Gift of God to endless days,
All we are we bring to offer
In our sacrifice of praise.    

B. I. Hartless


Feather by Beren Hartless
When something wonderful
And terrible,
Happens unexpectedly,
When soft wings
And a floating feather
Coalesce into a presence,
Do I tremble?
Or do I embrace
The gift?

A momentary surge of fear,
Settles into silence,
And the cosmos
Holds its breath,
Waiting for assent.

B. I. Hartless  

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


The last wound was the deepest.
The wound of loss
Cries like the gale over the moors -
Fierce-whipping eroded rocks,
Stripping the thorned gorse of its last bloom,
Loosing desolation,
Devastating emptiness.
Silent-bound, the broken hillside mourns.
Only the kestrel keens.
B. I. Hartless

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


There is potential here.

Wind-blown barley by Beren Hartless
The merest nudge,
The slightest touch, is urging on.
To grow is to be open, to respond.

Sometimes, drastic deaths
Are needed to bring growth.
At others, feather-light, insistent possibilities
Come floating past
Like wisps of mist.

Listen! - The wind blows where and how it wills.
Maybe the groaning gusts
Uprooting all before,
Sweeping away accumulations
Littered round the garden of a life,
Are now transformed to gentle zephyr strokes,
Light, stimulating breaths,
That set up strengthening reactions
In the sappy new shoots
Springing in the soul.

The Wind of God
All Spirit, blows in change,
Fully humanising fledgling beings
Fixed in fractured, time-distorted stasis.

Life, abundantly enjoyed
Within the Wind,
Flowing with the onward dance of God
Reflects the wholeness of the perfect One.

B.I. Hartless

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Tree rings by Beren Hartless

Groping towards the light,
Glimpsing it, then
Wrapped again
In frost and darkness,
Only a few grow old
And continue growing.

Ring after ring of agony
Laid down and bound
Together with considered reflection
And accumulated wisdom,
Hale and hearty,
Or withered and bent,
The precious few
Enlarge their tents,
Finding the universal hope:
Love, longed for
By the young and strong.

B.I. Hartless

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

High Summer

The Big Field, Kineton,
 by Beren Hartless


Looking only at the grey, rain-burdened sky,
She missed the taupe and ochre ripening corn.
She saw the melting hedges blend into the night,
But did not rise to see the green-gold dawn.

On she walked with aching heart,
Past shuttered homes,
And never knew the joy of being alone.