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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree

Simplicity - a message for the church

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Part VII.

The next three days were hectic, as
I toiled with Heather hard and long,
creating tapes and sequences
to build a story told in song.
Miss Hargreaves was a powerhouse
of good advice and cheap ideas
to make my heart’s desires real;
it seemed as though I’d known her years.

On Thursday night, at Heather’s place,
the old man rang to ask a boon;
did she know how to find the man
he’d met last Sunday afternoon?
Then when she quickly realised
that this was me, and passed the phone,
he wanted to find out if I
was spending Sunday on my own.

I had to tell him I was booked.
“All right,” he said. “I wish you well.
My friends and I don’t want to go;
this meeting’s my idea of hell!”
“You mean the one the Reverend’s at?”
I asked, half thinking he’d mean mine;
“There’s something else?” he asked, and so
he said he’d bring some food and wine.

No sooner had we got things done,
than Heather had some neat idea
that filled up all the time we had;
and being late became my fear.
She hung up sheets across the stage,
and showed me how to back-project.
And every day we carried on,
I learned for her a new respect.

So on the day, we played the tapes,
I shone the words, she sang her soul,
and Matthew plucked the pictures out,
excited to have gained a role.
With cast-offs, coins, and children’s time,
we did what costs a fortune when
professionals with complex kit
make shows for such as CNN.

“Seven days hence, my name be praised;
tell only those who have to know,
or those who ask your plans of you;
as I commanded others; go!”

But all the while I’d been behind
the sheets I’d hung with Heather there
for words and pics to shine upon;
then out I came, and stood to stare.

The hall was full. Not just with kids,
but every age, all stood in line!
The old man and his fellowship
were serving cakes, and tea, and wine.
The children brought their mothers, and
a few bewildered dads to see
the pictures that they cared about.
And was this all because of me?

I sat exhausted on a chair,
and wondered how I’d ever thought
that church was made of ritual,
and just how much a preacher taught
when pictures mean a thousand words
to those who cherish MTV;
it isn’t what you say that counts
today - it’s only what you see.

I stared around, and asked myself
if this was how the church began;
working together long and hard,
to bring the word to every man.
A voice from somewhere said to me,
“Try me in this, and find me out.
Do as I tell you just one time,
then if you like, live life in doubt.”

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