Anchorite Poems




Take me loving God
take this broken body
take this bewildered soul
take these emotions ragged and raw

And plant me in the soil of solitude
(not the bare rock of the recluse)
but here in the humus of your body
where I can grow and faith flourish

For I need the anchor of your church
the weight of worship
the drag of love
Here may I be healing for body and soul

The Seasons of Solitude

God of eternal summer
I thank you
for winter’s solitude
and the deep snowfall of silence

Keep me rooted
when the frantic wind
bends my soul and threatens
the simple flower of stillness

Fertilize me with rich patience
that I might be rich in contemplation
and fruitful
in the season of my harvest


I have withdrawn from the world,
it is not exactly a choice,
in fact choice hardly comes into it at all
except for this one act:
to let the heart follow where the body leads

into that curious wilderness of the self that illness constructs
into that strange isolation of me that the healthfulness of others creates
into that peculiar solitude that is pain, God and the human being

It comes and I know that I am at home here.
Perhaps my world summoned this wilderness
wanting to isolate myself from the world's noise,
have an excuse for loneliness:
That sweetness of the self alone before God

But now I am here
and it is time to weave a basket or two
Go fifteen rounds with the demons
Find a father to guide my stumbling steps
and learn the patience of the long silence.


Into the solitude I come
No longer sore afraid.
My head is lifted up on high
I, in the Godhead made -

A man in communion
With all that lives,

Aware and conscious every day
Of all the great God gives.

I lay aside my suffering:
The secret pain and hurt
And in the deepest, quietest place
The love of God assert -

With such as living strength
Lives in this breathing man,

Yet more, with stumbling faithfulness, my weakness now I lay
Before the holy, holy One who made this life see day.


Meaning not alone
meaning not separated
meaning not in isolation
but apart
withdrawn within oneself
withdrawn within and God
withdrawn within and others
in a different, quiet away.
Not one alone amongst the throng
but intimately myself
and connected deeper than flesh
with God
and a personal community of prayer.

The Cell

This is my cell
Here I must breathe
Air I cannot choose;
Here I must live

Days I cannot master.
It is the struggle
Like the old monks

But different
More affluent, less harsh
Less solitude, more noise
But the Same Struggle

With demons
Inside and out
And prayer, and work
And the body lived for God

of the Desert Fathers

They have come, the old men
And pitched a camp in my heart
Finding a dry cave
And a quiet place
They have made a home for good

Here in my heart
They patiently plait ropes and weave baskets
They are in no rush
Their prayers demand no action
Everything is done at the right time

Long ago they learnt the virtues of waiting
They have forgotten how to judge
Even though their eyes see clearly:
They wait and they pray
And one day I will come home