Out of the Silence

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“Out of the silence, Light is spoken.” Thomas Merton

I walk
into the morning.

Birds
drowse
in the dark,

an unseen breeze
strokes my
arms, my bare neck,

as two cranes
over the edge
of the meadow
rise

as the Holy Spirit
moans
in tones
of morning light.

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Morning (Good Friday)

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/5829098353/in/photolist-4Kx16z-ecPUED-ebBifu-8i3JQZ-9hVoH9-e5LpLV-btyAdw-6XzVqF-qYzHeE-cdxRC-dSTda4-9iJAV2-9T6DRK-ezu419-bTTTMX-6cVcVw-8CBwoQ-6cPDQ2-8zpm83-9Jvqks-8xMURf-7SWjys-f5eev-noweMv-66GtBJ-8C31Ss-4UUMa5-4zDwwk-ehuk1A-687mU2-9MuBKP-7BCRfM-HaT11-nmMbae-9icGzx-bEETYh-84uTRc-6o6dz1-7Toidh-bRuWiz-4R91qJ-bMfgzX-9B3PR8-7Mp8xG-9CoiFa-f3pjh-buw3Kj-7QoJzu-6o7KvG-nDmpF8/

Therefore let me know trust in the feelings of my heart.
My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched.
Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers.
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude.

Young grass
high and thick

drenched
filled to brim,

by morning sun released,
a fury of green, trees

believing that golden day
will stay.

Persist, oh life,
in the cold of winter,

and beat, oh heart!
With tender heat

as a while yet
I breathe!

(6 April 2012
rev April 2019)

Do Not Gaze into the Night

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“We do not see the Blinding One in black emptiness. He speaks to us gently; His light is one fullness and one Wisdom.” Thomas Merton

Do not gaze into the night.

He is not in the cold wind
tearing at tender leaves.

No, nor does He live
on the mountain of thunder

nor on the crashing shore
where the surf pounds
time on rocks as old
rhythm itself;

You’ll not
find Him
in the piercing cries
of the children
of Syria;

but in your own
brilliant darkness
washed clean
by your tears

there you will find Him:
gentle, and full,
and wise.

We Sing

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“The rain ceases, and a bird’s clear song suddenly announces the difference between Heaven and hell.” Thomas Merton

Over bright fields
we fly.

Thin slips
of consciousness,
bounded by darkness,

we rise
on our song’s
golden glow,

not knowing
how descends
the growing edge
of nothing.

 

(7 July 2012)

On the Feast of St. Stephen

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The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Peter Paul Rubens 1616-1617

“The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, by which man is formally united to the final end of all his striving – by which man becomes one with God.” (Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain)

See how wind tears, how
clouds ravage the sky
to shreds…

Can you hear the geese fleeing
shouting dread
as the savage storm crouches?

Are you afraid?

I know
how the sea sometimes
launches boulders;

but the stubborn land
bows and waits
and, swollen, forgives

with torrents of life;
rivers of joy.

(2013-2017)

September 11

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“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.”  Thomas Merton

Rushing from shower to sink, I heard the TV
blare its usual chatter of news and advertising
as we made our hurried preparations
for another busy day,
when I saw it:
dark smoke rising into the blue New York sky.

And I stopped, all schedules forgotten, transfixed
by high flames scorching glass and steel.

Calmly, the newsman speculated
about airliners and tragic accidents,
when the passive camera caught it, the black spot
flying straight and sure as a bullet, piercing
the second tower in a shower of orange flame and shattered glass.

This was no accident,then, this morning violence, and I wondered
how many people were already at work when,
pinned by burning jet fuel and melting steel, their busy day
suddenly ceased in searing red pain and numb darkness?

I wanted to go on with my own day,
to hide in the comfort of my routine,
but I could not turn away when I saw jumpers
drop to merciful deaths;

I saw a suited businessman,
pale in white dust, slowly plodding
through a deluge of drifting memos,
clutching his briefcase like a life preserver;

I heard the shrill, muffled
sirens of ambulance and fire-trucks,
lost in the dirty fog of terror.

And I knew in that moment
that we all are New Yorkers,

we all are falling into our dark, quiet center
where, sinless and without fear,
we encounter God, Yahweh, Allah,

The Eternal,

as our shattered bodies rise
through flames of anger
into the pure, cool, forgiving
September air.

(9/11/2011)

Compassion

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Photo: Tree in Desert by Brian Federle

“What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is not wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid, and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion.” Thomas Merton

I’ll wander with you
in our pain.

Though dry days
and star-drenchd nights
we’ll search the sharp rocks
for pools of cool tears.

Forty days and
forty nights shall we journey
through the wilderness,

to the green oasis
where we’ll flourish — audacious
lilies in hidden springs —

and there
we’ll possess
every good thing.

(13 Oct 2012/ revised 7/31/2018)