Showing posts from April, 2017

We Will End The Month With The Poem That Ends Mary Oliver's Book, Thirst

It is also called Thirst.

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expect- ing to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.
I hope you have enjoyed this journey through April with poetry. On Wednesday, back to prose!
Let us walk in the holy presence.
(This weekend quenched my thirst for spring on a formation retreat in Villa Maria, PA.)


Beginners Denise Levertov
(Dedicated to the memory of Karen Silkwood and Eliot Gralla)
"From too much love of living,  Hope and desire set free,  Even the weariest river  Winds somewhere to the sea—"
But we have only begun To love the earth.
We have only begun To imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope? — so much is in bud.
How can desire fail? — we have only begun
to imagine justice and mercy, only begun to envision
how it might be to live as siblings with beast and flower, not as oppressors.
Surely our river cannot already be hastening into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot drag, in the silt, all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet— there is too much broken that must be mended,
too much hurt we have done to each other that cannot yet be forgiven.
We have only begun to know the power that is in us if we would join our solitudes in the communion of struggle.
So much is unfolding that must complete its gesture,
so much is in bud.

Let us walk in the holy presence…

The Right Use of Power

We will begin with a haiku:
New buds of springtime Prophets and mystics abound
Tell of future time

And then a poem -- by Robert Walser:
Presumably no one minds
that the woods are greening again,
that meadows are full of grass,
that birds are singing in the trees,
that violets are blooming from the dirt.
Hundreds and thousands of green leaves!
Spring is a field marshal
who conquers the world,
and no one holds a grudge.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

"Old Escapes Into The New"

A Purification
Wendell Berry

At the start of spring I open a trench
in the ground. I put into it
the winter's accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.

I love seeing the old and the new mingle. I caught a glimpse of this on the hydrangea bushes that lead into the side door of the monastery. You can see the old flowers living together with the green buds, all living deeply into the transformation process.

May we be willing to do the same…

Easter Exultet

Shake out your qualms.  Shake up your dreams.  Deepen your roots.  Extend your branches.  Trust deep water  and head for the open,  even if your vision  shipwrecks you.  Quit your addiction  to sneer and complain.  Open a lookout.  Dance on a brink.  Run with your wildfire.  You are closer to glory  leaping an abyss  than upholstering a rut.  Not dawdling.  Not doubting.  Intrepid all the way  Walk toward clarity.  At every crossroad  Be prepared  to bump into wonder.  Only love prevails.  En route to disaster  insist on canticles.  Lift your ineffable  out of the mundane.  Nothing perishes;  nothing survives;  everything transforms!  Honeymoon with Big Joy!
-James Broughton-
Nature proclaimed its own Exultet when I went for a morning walk yesterday. Alleluia!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Two Poems

Walk Slowly Danna Faulds
It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still and just like that,
something in me settles, softens,
makes space for imperfection. The harsh
voice of judgment drops to a whisper
and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race;
that we will all cross the finish line;
that waking up to life is what we were born for.
As many times as I forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I am going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, to be and walk
slowly into the mystery.

Here The Water's Music
Tere Sievers

There is only one way, aging beauties,
to go down this river,
to hear the water's music over the rocks,
to find a loving I, Thou, Who.
I say, spring out of the boat,
jump in naked, tender,
with your ferocious heart torn open.

This past week we reached Chapter 72 in my study of the Rule of Benedict. Although there are seventy-three chapters, Chapter 72, The Good Zeal of Monastics, is very much a grand send-off from Benedict:

Poem: Gratitude by Mary Oliver

What did you notice?

The dew-snail;
the low-flying sparrow;
the bat, on the wind, in the dark;
big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance;
the soft toad, patient in the hot sand;
the sweet-hungry ants;
the uproar of mice in the empty house;
the tin music of the cricket’s body;
the blouse of the goldenrod.

What did you hear?

The thrush greeting the morning;
the little bluebirds in their hot box;
the salty talk of the wren,
then the deep cup of the hour of silence.

When did you admire?

The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit;
the carrot, rising in its elongated waist;
the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the pale green wand;
at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid beauty of the flowers;
then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost.

What astonished you?

The swallows making their dip and turn over the water.

What would you like to see again?

My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness,
her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue,
her recklessness, her loyalty, he…

Poem: Messenger

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—      equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums. Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me      keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be      astonished. The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart      and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy      to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is      that we live forever.
Let us walk in the holy presence.
See how many Dark-eyed Juncos you can spot in the budding shrub out my window!
Thanks to a sister for the bird identification poster -- very helpful!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I think I have already declared other times of the year the most wonderful here on the blog, but April must be held in high consideration. Why? Well, it is National Poetry Month, of course! As I did last year, I will post a poem in each entry for the month. Here is one that is quite a reality check for me. This is a poem titled Understory. The poet is Mark Nepo.
I’ve been watching stars rely on the darkness they resist. And fish struggle with and against the current. And hawks glide faster when their wings don’t move.
Still I keep retelling what happens till it comes out the way I want.
We try so hard to be the main character when it is our point of view that keeps us from the truth.
The sun has its story that no curtain can stop.
It’s true. The only way beyond the self is through it. The only way to listen to what can never be said is to quiet our need to steer the plot.
When jarred by life, we might unravel the story we tell ourselves and discover the story we are in, the one that keeps telling us.