The gentleness with which I wash them,
Welcoming each in the name of threefold God
To life, that they may have it in abundance;
How that gentle trickle, token gesture,
Betrays the depth, the power, of waters flow.
Still tepid fontfuls, tap or kettle fresh,
Speak little of the awesome mysteries - of life
and death - within each glistening drop
That falls from freshfaced forehead as names
are given and life launched upon.
Praying God to bless that vessel and all who sail in her,
they let the mighty frame created of man slide,
accelerate and rush anchor chain clattering
towards waters edge..
And floating now free from lands firm hold
...the venture of life begins.
Not the youthful bubbling of mountain fresh spring,
nor its trickle 'cross welly-trodden bog of peat;
Not the village brook whose fords and delicate bridges
respect even such shallow flow,
nor the great meanders of angler-populated riverbank;
But on beyond the weirs where tidal mud and sandbanks
witness ocean's mighty surge and fall,
where even from the salt rich air,
men’s bones may sense the hours of ebb and flow.
There in the life teeming, shorecrashing,
whitehorseridden, grey thundering roar of open sea,
Lies the majesty of life.
Hidden beneath the waves in richness beyond
imagination from man who looking the other way
reaches beyond stars to find life
that was already so close at hand.
And that inner space whose depths outreach eyes scan,
as it is pulled about by moon, sun, planets, stars;
As it in each movement and flow witnesses
to the shape and being of all that is;
That inner space gives life as its vapours soften the air.
Gives life that it may also receive...
Not only of mans waste to decay and pollute,
but of man also who ventures to cross those buoyant,
perilous depths in peace, at work, at war.
Giggling bathers fill summer pools and beaches,
but wise salt cracked faces whose eyes have seen
the mountainous swell and whose legs feel uneasy
on the firm land respect the blue smile of summer seas
They know also the grey cruel ashen face of storm thrashed sea
offering final embrace to their lives.
And shall we see in that gentle washing,
child cradled in my arm,
the embrace of the sea, of death,
that calls to us all ?
And shall we discern in those token droplets
the rich abundance of life, the whole universe
speaking through each glistening fall and splash ?
Droplets that make their splash and cease to be
yet remain, lost, forever in puddle in flood.
And shall we be as those who go down to sea in ships;
Learning from the wave and storm as from the calm,
that bone-marrow piercing regard,
fear and love of waters clasp ?
This alone I can tell;
That I have felt oceans mighty roar,
and child's baptismal wash,
United as one in tears that flowed,
of anger, bitterness, exhaustion, fear,
and of gentlest love ... even to death.