Empty Crosses | Poem

After it had finished I waited with Mary,
When everyone had gone, we went up the hill,
But through our tears we couldn’t see
Which empty cross was ours.
We could hardly see while it was going on
And now among the jumble of wood we couldn’t tell.
We would have taken it home if we knew:
He had touched that wood.

They told me that crosses were bad:
You might end up worshipping an idol.
But I didn’t want to do that,
I wanted something to focus my unruly mind.
They said if I did have a cross it had to be empty
Because Jesus wasn’t there any more,
I understand, but every cross is empty now
How would I know which one is His?

This step, so small, yet impossible
A trivial sacrifice that I cannot but must make.
To think that this is the very cross
That He said we must bare!
His cross was bigger than the world
I don’t understand it
Mine; immeasurably small,
I understand it well: it will kill me.
Into resurrection.

Wilf Copping, October 2018

Caught! | A poem

They dragged me to the square
I knew I left a trail of shame in the dust.
But drag me they must
Subject of lust
I’d been caught red handed
Now I’d be branded
Shamed, cast out, spat upon.
I realised
I didn’t care, for inside I screamed
Inside I shouted, reckless, self hating anger!
I never doubted-
That I had nothing
So had nothing to lose
Numb. Cold. Hurting. Hurt or be hurt.
I reached out for love
Reached out for the love I’d never had
Reached out to belong, to be held.
Oh what a mistake!
What a mistake.
This love didn’t touch the inside
Couldn’t touch the soul side
Just made me despise
The cold, pointlessness.

They dragged me, they beat me
They hate me, they cheat me
They dump me, expose me
To stone me
To break me
To end me
To e n d me
In adultery

The silence is perceiving
Why is no one accusing?
Or kicking or growling?
That man he has spoken
Every conscience has woken
The fury has broken
A whisper has won
All my accusers have gone
To the last
Heads downcast
Forgot my past
But remembered theirs

His voice quiet and hushed now
And yet like the thunder
Every word he utters
Shakes me to the core.
They bypass the gore
The grime and the crime
He says “not condemned,
Go make amends”
Why does he stare?
Why should he care
But his eyes pierce my heart
Give me a new start
I want to run?
I want to cry,
I want to hide?
My life runs before me
I know He sees through me
His love seems to fill me
To melt me, to heal me
His gaze holds me speechless
Mercy spreads as it reaches
Inside all my thoughts
My fears and my feelings
Oh wonderful love
Wonderful love
Now he affirms me, understands me
Confirms me
Kindness. Pure kindness transforms me and lifts me.
Light fills all my being
I feel like I’m singing
His praises ringing
Me, who condemned stands here ready to die
Instead I shall fly
Instead I shall follow
This man who gives me

‘I Believe’ – A Christian Collaboration Video

This video is the culmination of a vision I’ve had for a long time to bring together a group of Christian film-makers and make an inspirational piece about who God is.

It began last year in a video training session for some of the youth in my church and I showed them the excellent YHWH produced by Dan Stevers. I’ve long admired the work of Dan and recently he’s been collaborating with other artists to make videos that are very creative. This gave me an idea to do the same with our team.

The Poem

Around a year ago I heard a poem that really got my imagination going. It was based on something that was written in German by Lothar Zenetti, then translated and added to by a friend called Fred. This is the poem.

I believe in God, and I believe
That He is an artist, an inventor
His boundless ideas show Him to be original forever
Wonderful, varied and worthy of admiration.
The endless universe, the order of the stars
Are all inside his plan. He thinks up clouds
And the blushing of the dawn
He calls mountains into being
And will you look at this tree: every twig, every leaf
Is His invention and in the same way He forms
Lizards, warthogs and butterflies.
He is not made in the image in my head
Does not correspond to my concepts and definitions
The person I picture would never have made such a world full of wonders
Nor even more than a single type of person
Off the conveyor belt they would all march with a standard size head
And the same type of nose.
There would be no riotous hotchpotch of porters and poets, waiters and beauty queens,
Of estate agents, street musicians,
Of grandmas and rock fans and lollipop ladies.
There must be something of all that in Him.
I believe He is a shepherd, a lover, a Father and Mother
And He is a game of hopscotch too.
He is enchanter and beguiler, a massive Cheshire cat smiler
The big mystery is His name and He is entirely other
High above all that is and right at the outset
He is the breath and the beginning of everything
And His pulse is felt in all that is.
He creates our longing’s conclusion
He appears in the storm and the thunder
He lives in the cloud, in the word and the silence.
He scatters His hope among the stricken
In the hearts of lovers He is right there in the middle of the world
And glory be to His wonderful name.

I got Fred to email it to me, and then when I was thinking of what to base the Christian collaboration video on this came to mind, so I found the email and set to work.

The Audio

Recording William

Recording William reading the poem

The backing music and voice-over was vital to the video, as this was what the team would be working from. I enlisted the help of William, who has an incredible voice that I could listen to all day, and then found a suitable backing track on MusicBed to license.

Chris bringing the voiceover and soundtrack together

Chris bringing the voiceover and soundtrack together

Choosing Sections

I put the poem in a Google Doc and then split it into 10 sections, asking everyone to own one of the sections. Once people had decided I chopped up the audio into these 10 sections and sent them their specific track. They would each work on their own section and only be aware of the whole piece when it would be shown at one of our national Church meetings.

Bringing The Poem To Life

There weren’t any rules on what to film or create, just a few technical constraints to make sure things like frames per second and pixel sizes matched up.

Josh filming in the middle of a field at night-time

Josh filming in the middle of a field at night-time

Aidan using Cinema4D for the conveyor belt section

Aidan using Cinema4D for the conveyor belt section

John capturing some stunning scenes in Malaysia

John capturing some stunning scenes in Malaysia

David getting to grips with Maya animation software

David getting to grips with Maya animation software

Esme bringing to life her hand drawn characters

Esme working on her hand drawn characters

James (that's me) filming a family scene as dusk approaches

James (that’s me) filming a family scene as dusk approaches

Different Styles

Once everyone had sent me their sections it was noticeable how different they all were and how much hard work had gone into them with a mix of styles and ways to capture images. There was footage from DSLR cameras, camcorders, GoPros, computer generated graphics and hand drawn illustrations.

Esme put a lot of work into creating each character

Esme put a lot of work into creating each character

Filming William for the intro and end sequences using a digital camera

Filming William for the intro and end sequences using a digital camera

Editing and Sound Design

With having lots of different styles and content I put a lot of effort into making sure they all blended well together. It would have been easy to do a fade to black between every section but I wanted there to be continuity across the whole video, so there was various adjustments to the colouring, adding motion blur, wipes, and zooms between clips.

As much time went into the sound design as into the edit – especially with the animation scenes as the sound really brings it to life. And for the ending I did a late night timelapse of the stars on a very cold night, so I could overlay the video title in the edit.

A late night timelapse of the stars to end the video

The stars with a plane passing overhead


Introducing the Christian collaboration video team - Aidan, David, Esme, Charis, Naomi, John, George, Sam, Josh

Introducing the crew – Aidan, David, Esme, Charis, Naomi, John, George, Sam, Josh

This project has been a real success – it’s helped young people express their passion for God, and working in a team is always enjoyable. It feels like we’re on a journey together to explore creativity and our own interpretations of who God is and what He means to us.

Here’s to the next one.