An open heaven blessed those three just men
as radiant sun at noon smiled warmly down –
just three of many men of God from town,
who’d met upon the vicarage lawn to pray.
Nearby the Labrador lay on his side –
no sides-man or lay minister, although
sporting his dog collar … sound asleep.
‘A good man seeks the welfare of his beast’
and well-loved dogs improve their owners’ health.
‘Outside are dogs’ means men who pervert sex
not canines of the church on vicarage lawns.
We shared assorted ministry concerns –
all grist for the mill of prayer on the vicarage lawn.
And at the point of launching into prayer,
a blackbird in the garden’s hawthorn tree
began to pour forth music in the air
of the sanctuary, o’er-arched by open heaven
and paved by daisy patterned vicarage lawn.
Quite unaware that he was praising God,
just glad to be himself and to be free,
and grateful he was not trapped within a cage
to ‘put [said Blake] all heaven in a rage’,
with golden notes, by God inspired, now he
accompanied the praying of us three
from leafy hawthorn on the vicarage lawn.
Hasten, Lord, the day the company
of your redeemed will flow in unity
of truth and of the Spirit, and complete
the harvest of the nations, so your Bride
can with the Spirit passionately cry:
‘Even so, Lord Jesus, come again.’
For then creation’s groaning will give way
to perfect harmony of earth and heaven –
the foretaste we experienced that day
in May when praying on the vicarage lawn.
Hugh Thompson 23 May 1998