You can have a 'crucifixion'
for a very modest price,
or a virgin, or a martyr
carved in pine - they're very nice.
There are 'crown-of-thorns' detachable
and 'twinkling haloes' too
but no transistors for the 'throbbing hearts'
our order's overdue.
Our stock is comprehensive
(we like to keep abreast)
there are Buddhas on the Mezzanine
with Krishnas 'guru-blessed.'
The sacred object business
is a most rewarding trade.
We've something here for everyone
and most of it hand-made.
Our craftsmen are the best in town
and a few of them devout:
they work for slender recompense
and some, perhaps, without.
Yes, supplying sacred objects
is the service we perform
and demand has risen sharply
since the Church embraced reform.
Because, you see, deep down inside
there's a need we must fulfil…
….oh, a 'happy death,' in silver guilt,
Most tasteful sir,
- your bill.
John Ball 1941 - 1978
Vicar of Holy Cross 1969 - 1977
It is the holding together that is hard –
The resisting of the centrifugal forces
Acting on mind and heart
That break the tenuous links of thought and feeling.
And then there is the fear (which on black days
Transmutes itself into a dark seducer
Parodying hope) that the next revolution of the hand
Upon the sadly common clock
Will bring the final, the inoperable rupture,
and burst the dams of past
And future pains.
It is the holding you must help us in:
We cannot enter heaven in fragments
The gates will not allow of that.
And you must give the means to keep it
If you love us, as I fear you do.
Father John Ball,
Parish Priest, Holy Cross Church,