Discovering the work of Arnold Kenseth – a poet, liturgist and preacher from Massachusetts – has been for me one of the real joys of the past two years. For that discovery I owe a debt to my dear friend Rick Floyd. Four of Kenseth’s books grace my desk at the moment, and one my bedside table. (The loo is spared for CS Lewis books, for fishing and gardening magazines, and for other ‘spiritual’ reading.) All of Kenseth’s books are true friends to those charged with the responsibility of leading public worship, and to those charged with the responsibility of being human and not mere decoration in the world. [Public health warning: Those contemporary readers especially allergic to the use of non-politically-correct language that frequented writing until recently may choose, sadly, to steer clear of Kenseth. But for those of us who can more easily distinguish between a piece of rubber and a shoe, drink deeply!]. Anyway, here’s one of the prayers assigned for this Sunday past:
O God, we live not so much in light or dark as in the gray middle, the muddle, the meager, the half-felt, the half-known, the half-delighted in. Not wanting joy, we are unprepared for sorrow; not accepting sorrow, we are unprepared for joy. Afraid of roots and depths, we have no tree, no height. O Lord, shake down the paper houses that we hide in and spill us out on the ground of thy strength. Unfasten us from fear, and set us free in trust. Undwarf our souls that we may come alive and grow within thy giant love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– Arnold Kenseth, Sabbaths, Sacraments, and Seasons: A Collection of Meditations, Prayers, and Canticles (Philadelphia/Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1969), 51.
Image: Jorge Mayet, De Mis Vivos y Mis Muertos, 2008. Electrical wire, paper, acrylics, and fabric. 143 x 84 x 84 cm. The Saatchi Gallery, London.
Thank you … I’m hunting out his poems and enjoying them greatly!