POETRY: Little Gidding (part I) from Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot

May 30, 2012

Midwinter spring is its own season Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown, Suspended in time, between pole and tropic. When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire, The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches, In windless cold that is the heart’s heat, Reflecting in a watery mirror A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon. And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier, Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom Of snow, a bloom more [...]

POETRY: Ascension Hymn, by Henry Vaughan

May 17, 2012

 From: Silen Scintillans, Part II Dust and clay Man’s ancient wear! Here you must stay, But I elsewhere; Souls sojourn here, but may not rest; Who will ascend, must be undrest. And yet some That know to die Before death come, Walk to the sky Even in this life; but all such can Leave behind them the old Man. If a star Should leave the Sphere, She must first mar Her flaming wear, And after fall, for in her dress Of glory, she cannot transgress. Man of old Within the line Of Eden could Like the Sun shine All naked, innocent and bright, And intimate with Heav’n, as light; But since he That brightness soiled, His garments be All dark and spoiled, And here are left as nothing worth, Till the Refiner’s fire breaks forth. Then [...]

POETRY: Five Poems On Faith And Perseverance, by Helen Steiner Rice

May 16, 2012

Never Borrow Sorrow From Tomorrow Deal only with the present — never step into tomorrow, For God asks us just to trust Him and to never borrow sorrow, For the future is not ours to know, and it may never be, So let us live and give our best and give it lavishly. . . For to meet tomorrow’s troubles before they are even ours Is to anticipate the Savior and to doubt His all-wise powers, So let us be content to solve our problems one by one, Asking nothing of tomorrow except “Thy will be done.” Mover of Mountains Faith is a force that is greater than knowledge or power or skill, And the darkest defeat turns to triumph if you trust in God’s wisdom and will, For faith is a mover of mountains — there’s nothing [...]

POETRY: The Fire Burns Low by John Leax

May 9, 2012

Issues from the hand of time the simple soul Irresolute and selfish, misshapen, lame Unable to face forward or retreat. . . (T. S. Eliot, “Animula”) Thursday evening Inside the light of a three-way lamp he sits absorbed reading the living word reduced to monosyllables, the gospel cut like hash for middleclass consumption He does not like abstractions; he takes the words as they come, nouns, verbs, and articles. They move him, but he does not move. Each verse, each phrase he reads reminds him he died with Christ in 1963. He remembers the day, moistens his lips and begins to recite “I am dead. . .” but he can’t remember the rest. He mortifies the flesh; his right leg prickles asleep. Thursday night In the dark [...]

POETRY: April Theology, by John Neihardt

May 2, 2012

O to be breathing and hearing and feeling and seeing! O the ineffably glorious privilege of being! All of the World’s lovely girlhood, unfleshed and made spirit, Broods out in the sunlight this morning — I see it, I hear it! So read me no text, O my Brothers, and preach me no creeds; I am busy beholding the glory of God in His deeds! See! Everywhere buds coming out, blossoms flaming, bees humming! Glad athletic growers up-reaching, things striving, becoming! O, I know in my heart, in the sun-quickened, blossoming soul of me. This something called self is a part, but the world is the whole of me! I am one with these growers, these singers, these earnest becomers — Co-heirs of the summer to be and past aeons of summers! I kneel not [...]

POETRY: The Face of Andrew, by J. Barrie Shepherd

April 25, 2012

“The Last Fishing Trip,” I call it because after that we never fished again, leastwise, we never caught another fish. We were in Galilee, there partly, I suppose, because the Lord had said that he would meet us there, or so they told us after those reports of resurrection, but also because Galilee was home and, after all we had seen, and not seen, done and not done, where else was there to go? Anyway there we were, several of us, sitting, gazing in the fire and talking, reminiscing, reliving those glory days of walking with him through the hills and fields and country roads, feeling ourselves part of something marvelous — even revolutionary — that was just around the corner and about to dawn. We sat there talking by the fire. We [...]

POETRY: The Last Miracle by J. Barrie Shepherd

April 18, 2012

What did you, could you think as they pounded through your open palms forcing coarse, bloody iron nails to sink deep into the splintered wood? Did you feel the grasp of panic, that sudden, stomach-wrenching sense that this, at the very last, is it — no further chance of changing, turning back? Were you, perhaps, bewildered, having hoped, despite defiant words, for at least one late and minor miracle on your own behalf, considering all the rest? Did flooding fear compound with rage and hate at the sheer blind brutality of soldiers, fellow sons of God, treating you like meat to be hung raw in a butcher’s window? Or dare we yet believe what was written, that your concern was, even at the end, to shield, to plead the cause of all who wield [...]

POETRY: Resurrection by Mary Ann Bernard

April 11, 2012

Long, long, long ago; Way before this winter’s snow First fell upon these weathered fields; I used to sit and watch and feel And dream of how the spring would be, When through the winter’s stormy sea She’d raise her green and growing head, Her warmth would resurrect the dead. Long before this winter’s snow I dreamt of this day’s sunny glow And thought somehow my pain would pass With winter’s pain, and peace like grass Would simply grow. The pain’s not gone. It’s still as cold and hard and long As lonely pain has ever been, It cuts so deep and far within. Long before this winter’s snow I ran from pain, looked high and low For some fast way to get around Its hurt and cold.  I’d [...]

POETRY: Love Letter by Madeleine L’Engle

April 4, 2012

I hate you, God. Love, Madeleine. I write my message on water and at bedtime I tiptoe upstairs and let it flow under your door. When I am angry with you I know that you are there even if you do not answer my knock even when your butler opens the door an inch and flaps his thousand wings in annoyance at such untoward interruption and says that the master is not at home. I love you, Madeleine. Hate, God. (This is how I treat my friends, he said to one great saint. No wonder you have so few of them, Lord, she replied.) I cannot turn the other cheek It takes all the strength I have To keep my fist from hitting back the soldiers shot the baby the little boys trample the old woman the gutters are filled with groans while pleasure seekers knock [...]

POETRY: Evening — Zero Weather by Thomas Merton

March 28, 2012

Now the lone world is streaky as a wall of marble With veins of clear and frozen snow. There is no bird song there, no hare’s track No badger working in the russet grass: All the bare fields are silent as eternity. And the whole herd is home in the long barn. The brothers come, with hoods about their faces, Following their plumes of breath Lugging the gleaming buckets one by one. This was a day when shovels would have struck Full flakes of fire out of the land like rock: And ground cries out like iron beneath our boots When all the monks come in with eyes as clean as the cold sky And axes under their arms, Still paying out Ave Marias With rosaries between their bleeding fingers. We shake the chips out of our robes outside the door [...]

POETRY: Lent 2001 by Joyce Rupp

March 21, 2012

The cosmos dreams in me while I wait in stillness, ready to lean a little further into the heart of the Holy. I, a little blip of life, a wisp of unassuming love, a quickly passing breeze, come once more into Lent. No need to sign me with the black bleeding ash of palms, fried and baked. I know my humus place. This Lent I will sail on the graced wings of desire, yearning to go deeper to the place where I am one in the One. Oh, may I go there soon, in the same breath that takes me to the stars when the cosmos dreams in [...]

POETRY: Three Lenten Poems

March 14, 2012

Christ as a Gardener The boxwoods planted in the park spell LIVE. I never noticed it until they died. Before, the entwined green had smudged the word unreadable. And when they take their own advice again — come spring, come Easter — no one will know a word is buried in the leaves. I love the way that Mary thought her resurrected Lord a gardener. It wasn’t just the broad-brimmed hat and muddy robe that fooled her: he was that changed. He looks across the unturned field, the riot Of unscythed grass, the smattering of wildflowers. Before he can stop himself, he’s on his knees. He roots up stubborn weeds, pinches the suckers, deciding order here — what lives, what dies, and how. But it goes deeper even than that. His hands burn and [...]

PRAYERS: Prayers Of Discouragement And Doubt, by Helen Steiner Rice

March 12, 2012

Don’t Be Discouraged It’s easy to grow downhearted When nothing goes your way. It’s easy to be discouraged When you have a troublesome day. But trouble is only a challenge to spur you on to achieve The best that God has to offer if you have the faith to believe. — Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou dost preserve my life; thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and thy right hand deliver me.  (Psalm 138:7) God’s Hand is Always There I am perplexed and often vexed And sometimes I cry and sadly sigh, But do not think, dear Father above, That I question you or your unfailing love. It’s just that sometimes when I reach out, You seem to be nowhere about, And while I’m sure [...]

MYSTICISM: The Beguines, with writings

March 2, 2012

The Beguinage, Bruques The high gate keeps, it seems, nobody in And the bridge leads contentedly out as well as within And yet, it is certain that each and everyone Is in the old Elm Court; they do not leave Their houses, except to walk the short way To church, in order that they may the better understand Why there should be such love in them. (Rainer Maria Rilke) Some women in the middle ages wanted to control their own lives.  They neither wanted to be married off by their families, nor did they want to submit to the authority that was wielded by convents.  Their hearts were filled with love for God, and, in what feels like a strange application, they took what was current in their culture — the idealism of chivalric [...]

POETRY: God Would Kneel Down by Francis of Assisi

February 28, 2012

I think God might be a little prejudiced. For once He asked me to join Him on a walk through this world, and we gazed into every heart on this earth, and I noticed He lingered a bit longer before any face that was weeping, and before any eyes that were laughing. And sometimes when we passed a soul in worship God too would kneel down. I have come to learn: God adores His [...]

POETRY: Comfort by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

February 13, 2012

Speak to me low, my savior, low and sweet From out the hallelujas, sweet and low, Lest I should fear and fall, and miss thee so Who art not missed by any that entreat. Speak to me as to Mary at thy feet— And if no precious gums be me my hand bestow, Let my tears drop like amber, while I go In reach of your divinest voice complete In humanest affection—thus, in sooth, To lose the sense of losing!  As a child, Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore, Is sung to in its stead by mother’s mouth; Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled, He sleeps the faster that he wept [...]

POETRY: Pine Needles Pray by Jim Roberts

January 24, 2012

Pine needles pray, nestling down. Their scent rises. The Forest breathes and exhales prayer. Its wind moves into fissures. Granite takes it in and firmly issues a prayer to a mushroom lifted by its bold touch and sends it down to the juicy soil-cracked seeds whose prayer makes the Forest tingle down into the roots of the Great Oak embracing them all and touching the Great River of Light only those who pray can enter. Join in praying now. Take it in. Ingest the prayers of the land. Unutterable language enters our nose invisible waves open our pores. The senses begin to pray. All that we learned hushed by the longing of the Forest. The prayer of the primal lover rises no longer only [...]

POETRY: The Paradoxes Of Love by Hadewijch of Antwerp

January 16, 2012

What is sweetest in Love is her tempestuousness; Her deepest abyss is her most beautiful favor; To lose one’s way in her is to touch her close at hand; To die of hunger for her is to feed and taste; Her despair is assurance; Her sorest wounding is all curing; To waste away for her sake is to be in repose; Her hiding is finding at all hours; To languish for her sake is to be in good health; Her concealment reveals what can be known of her; Her retentions are her gifts; Wordlessness is her most beautiful utterance; Imprisonment by her is total release; Her sorest blow is her sweetest consolation; Her ruthless robbery is great profit; Her withdrawal is approach; Her deepest silence is her sublime song; Her deepest wrath is her dearest [...]

ANGELS: Hand In Hand With Angels, a poem

January 13, 2012

(Author unknown) Hand in hand with angels, Through the world we go; Brighter eyes are on us Than we blind ones know. Sweeter voices cheer us Than we deaf will own; Never, walking heavenward, Can we walk alone. Hand in hand with angels, In the busy street, By the winter hearth-fires, Everywhere, we meet, Though unfledged and songless, Birds of paradise; Heaven looks at us daily Out of angel eyes. Hand in hand with angels, Walking every day; How the chain may lengthen, None of us can say. But we know its reaches From Earth’s lowliest one, To the shining seraph Throned beyond the [...]

POETRY: In Silence, by Thomas Merton

January 3, 2012

Be still. Listen to the stones of the wall. Be silent, they try to speak your name. Listen to the living walls. Who are you? Who are you? Whose silence are you? Who (be quiet) are you (as these stones are quiet). Do not think of what you are still less of what you may one day be. Rather be what you are (but who?) be the unthinkable one you do not know. O be still, while you are still alive, and all things live around you speaking (I do not hear) to your own being, speaking by the unknown that is in you and in themselves. “I will try, like them to be my own silence: and this is difficult. The whole world is secretly on fire. The stones burn, even the stones they burn me. How can a man be still or listen to all things burning? How can he [...]


December 1, 2011

Did your breath catch in your throat just before you touched the barrel of water?  Did your hand tingle or tremble before it laid God’s love onto it?  Did you turn your head to see if someone was gaping at your foolishness, or did you shrug into yourself, shutting out what might be coming your way? Did they stare directly at you when they learned what you had done, or did they slide glances at you from the edge of their eyes, hoping that, in seeing you standing there, the story would prove false?  But they had been drinking all night.  Was what happened to them just a foolish blur, a twirl of life that, realized the next morning, was easily shrugged off in the brilliant light of the day’s work in front of them?  The fields needed [...]