A dream

There is a battlefield, perhaps (although it is not certain) in the Balkans. Many soldiers have been killed, their bodies lie in shallow graves. An old woman moves across this forlorn landscape stooping every so often. I realise she is planting out flowers from old tins – wildflowers and lavender. She is doing so to honour the lives of the fallen soldiers. It is clear in the dream that it is of no importance to her which side they were on; it is their lives she is honouring with the flowers. Each flower tenderly Pushed into the dark soil says, here was a life.


Traditionally the colour lavender in the Christian calendar is the colour of Easter.


Death, and resurrection.


The dream is not an argument for moral equivalence in war (a dream is not an argument for anything). But Christ makes no distinction between us; He is not interested if you were on the side of the victor or the vanquished. His interest is the texture of the human soul.

 “The one will triumph who first died for the victims then also for the executioners, and in so doing revealed a new righteousness which breaks through vicious circles of hate and vengeance and which from the lost victims and executioners creates a new mankind with a new humanity.”
Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God

The Journey of the Magi


A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.