The Flying Fish


Our NEARER community met on Wednesday and we explored how poetry connects with prayer.

We were challenged to respond to different objects placed around the room.

The object that caught my attention was a Fish Cross. It is a cross that when viewed from the front looks perfectly ordinary, however when viewed from the side it looks like a fish.

This is a reference to the fact that the early Christians used the fish as a secret symbol of their faith. The word for fish in greek is ‘icthus’ and this can be used as an acronym – iesus, christos theos huios soter (Jesus, Christ, of God, the Son, Saviour).

As I thought about the fish I suddenly thought of flying fish and this led me into a reflection of how that can be seen as an image of Christians.

I wrote the following poem in response.


The Flying Fish

A fish that swims in company,

In playful relation,

Yet with purposeful intent,

Unlike its peers, is a citizen of two worlds,

Soaring now and then,

To its lower companions lost to sight,

Joining brother birds in glorious flight.


Then re-entering that heavy, liquid world

Warmed by the sun,

Invigorated by the air,

And dazzled by the light.


With a life above and below,

Ambassador between two worlds

That are strangers to each other.


So we who live below.

Immersed in torrent and tide,

Yet from time to time receive grace to know

Escape and soar in warmer, brighter climes,

Likewise must we return to share,

Our second life,

To strengthen, challenge, and implore,

Our low-bound companions,

That all might know and taste life on that more glorious plane,

The son to see, his warmth to share,

The joy to soar.


Stephen John MARCH, Feast of St. Winwaloc, 2017


Pictures and Poems That Help

I recently became aware of the fact that the most important spiritual advances in my life have involved things being made simpler.

The “Experiencing God” course by Henry Blackaby helped me understand that, at its heart, the Christian faith was primarily about a relationship, a love relationship with God.

“The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence helped me to see how this relationship with God could be fostered practically in the humdrum heart of everyday life.

C.S. Lewis helped me get a handle on so many of the more mysterious aspects of the Christian faith through his brilliant use of allegory and metaphor.

Brennan Manning helped me to see that a heart-felt conviction of the deep reality of God’s accepting love for me – just as I am in all my weakness, mess and failure – is the only true source, and means of sustaining, a Christian life.

All of these are clear examples of times when some ungraspable mystery of Christian faith was made accessibly simple.
Which sounds like a paradox, how can unfathomable mystery possibly be comprehended?

Well, for me the analogy of art and poetry are helpful.

A portrait may not be an exact representation of someone, but it may nonetheless tell us something “true” about the person.

A poem may not communicate a total, comprehensive understanding of an experience, but it can help us to feel something “true” about the experience nonetheless.

Much, if not most, of the spiritual writing that has been of benefit in my life has fallen into this category – pictures and poems.

Pictures and poems that somehow have helped me grasp, seize, reach towards, some of the deep, imponderable mysteries concerning God, his love and his activity in the world of men.

Pictures and poems that have helped.