By The Venerable Max Woolaver
This writing is dedicated to the memory of two men. The first on my mind is Randal, who was struck by a car when he was young boy and thrown face down into shallow water. His breathing was interrupted for long enough to give him problems for the rest of his life. He was a fine painter and he loved the sharing of the peace.
One Easter Sunday, after church, he ran up the central aisle and threw his arms around me. He shouted: “Max! Max! That’s the first sermon of yours that I have ever understood!!” For that Easter Sunday’s sermon, I had written a long poem — which was very unusual for me. I have never forgotten his enthusiastic, loving, excited embrace.
Murray Bowman was also struck by a car while riding his bicycle. He was likewise thrown into a ditch by the side of the road. He too struggled for the rest of his life, in care, with the consequences of that tragic accident. Murray, too, gave his life to art and kindness. His mother, Ruth Bowman, was much loved in our parish — one of those bright lights of energetic, intelligent, and indomitable charm. I wept at his funeral as we heard ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ by The Byrds — the magnificent rendering of Pete Seeger’s version of “… to everything there is a season,” from the Book of Ecclesiastes. He was exactly my age.
So — thinking of these two men and thinking of Randal’s thrill of discovery prompted by a poem, I wrote for Easter 2021, a long poem entitled: The Third Day’s Mind. It’s too long to print here but let me tell you what I was trying to say in the poem. If you’d like to hear the poem, go to our website at St. Andrew’s, Grimsby, 4th Sunday of Easter for a YouTube link to the service. (Make sure you don’t go to St. Andrew’s, Grimsby, UK! We once booked a wedding for folks who didn’t realize we were in Canada!)
The poem is in three parts: 1st Day, 2nd Day, and 3rd Day. The hope of the poem is that the reader will be drawn into the mystery of “The Third Day’s Mind.” The Third Day is the Day of Resurrection. The hope of the poem is the hope of St. Paul: “Be of that mind in yourselves that was also in the Anointed One Jesus …” The poem means to bring the reader to the point of entry into the mind of Christ — The Third Day’s Mind — The Mind of Resurrection.
The 1st Day traces the mind of the predicament of humankind: “The wake of every passing ship Grows wide and yet more wide only to fail before the horizon; Each generated wave of expectation thinning out / With ever-extending distance from the turning screw / Before assimilation with the moon drawn wave / Of a greater power upon a greater sea / A greater sea whose extent measures the curve and planetary scale of our thinning and meekly flailing hope.”
The 2nd Day traces the development of the martyr’s mind. I quote from Bonhoeffer’s poem Who Am I: “He appeared to his captors calm, cheerful, and poised. Like a squire from his manor … Yet … restless, yearning, sick, a caged bird … too tired, too empty to pray, to think, to work, Weary and ready to take leave of it all …” And Jesus is quoted: “Now my soul has been troubled, and what may I say? Rescue me?”
In the 2nd Day, the predicament of the fallen world for which the martyr dies is evoked in a distressing image: “Imagine the sea and beyond the sea, Morocco at the foot of your bed … All that falls in the pit of empire … The refugee somersaults for days 100 fathoms down …”
The 3rd Day reflects on the hiddenness of the secret power of God: “And not by what the eyes see shall he judge, And not by what his ears hear shall he render verdict” (Isaiah 11:3). The mystery of God’s work drawing life from death is at work in us: “Let me tell you how it happens / I have forgotten all I have never known / I am remembering all that I have never known / As the Rabbis would have said: this is love dependent on no material thing …”
The Third Day’s Mind, the silent power of God, raised Jesus from the dead. That same silent power and grace is at work in the story of your life and the history of humankind. It is the power which raises the future. “Let this same mind be in you which was in the Anointed One, Jesus.”
“This is how Resurrection comes: Not by what the eyes shall see, Not by what the ear shall hear: Grace abiding Grace abiding”
God bless Randal, God bless Murray — God bless us as The Third Day’s Mind seeks expression in our lives, our care for our world and one another.