Do Not Gaze into the Night

Standard

“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.

Advertisements

Evening Prayer

Standard

Wind stirs in expectation; it
softly strokes my face.

The March sun reassures me,
warms pale flesh
through layers of thick sweater
and winter coat.

Under indigo hills
new grass flows,
yellow and green,

as past distant ranges,
to the sky-bright, rounded sea
he flees and sends us
a gift of clouds,
aflame
in glory.

Peace be with the grass of the fields!
Peace
to dark hills and drifting clouds,
and to the sacrificial sun
peace!

Immanence

Standard

I know you stroll
beyond Andromeda
gazing on Magellanic Clouds,
but I cannot see that far.

I am stardust
to Earth-fallen.

Yet I seek you in the autumn rain,
hear you singing in the evening wind.

Your breath fills my empty lungs,
your smile lights
my darkened eyes,
and my heart overflows
with your sacred blood —

love spilling,
Earth-fulfilling.

Cry Aloud

Standard

Conflagration Clear Lake

Photo Steven Federle: Conflagration at Clear Lake, 2018

 

A voice said, “Cry aloud!”
and I said, “But what shall I cry?”

Shall I sing to the people
a song of spring,
hills aflame with green,
dry grass igniting
with joy?

In darker days,
when the high meadow fell fallow
and flowers of the valley
dried to dust,
I thought you’d turned
away, took your giving hands
to other lands.

Despairing, I wept,
stung by tears
from angry Hell,
and doubted
your love.

Oh, forgive me, pity your child
and make your enduring rain fall

on the riotous grass,
on the bold crocus
and passionate
rose.

Pacifica Path 2014

Photo Brian Federle: On the Pacifica Path, 2014

Compassion

Standard

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)

At the Death of a Young Girl

Standard

“We cannot find Him unless we know we need Him.” Thomas Merton

I see its raw fury clawing at her hands,
Kissing her sallow face with lies so perfect on silk pillows,
Concealing raw, gaping wounds inside, the insult
The harsh silence, the enforced peace.
I have seen all this before, this beast, this darkness, this indifference
To waves of anguish washing through the room
As her mother weeps, and her father strokes
Her dark, perfect hair.
I see her, and
I know.

But what am I to say to their terror? These children
Look at me, questioning … after all,
I am their teacher…
But why did she die?, well, asthma… breath denied… but why?

I know this insistent knot, this question piercing my gut,
And I want to hide in silence, but questions will not be denied,
And I know their questions, all of them…
So what am I to say to calm their red, flowing eyes,
These, my poor, dark flowers, piercing me with their tears?

Faith.
Yes, read the book to them…Lazarus found out… faith…
Promises were made, now to be made good.
Yes, faith… what else is there but
Faith?
And so we say the rosary,
And we go on.

(12/15/2012)

Sunrise

Standard
Photo: Sunrise Orcas Island, 2014.  Brian Federle
“Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of man’s nature, as if one’s whole being has to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise Him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be.”  Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Oh call me softly
in the morning!
With winter’s sun
paint golden
the pale trees.
In deep waters,
in cool ponds brush my
legs, caress
my tender feet.
Your breath flies
through the green
canyons.
With tongues
of flame
 oh, ravish me!