Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

a Silent Lamp

A poem by Gerald N. Alford in tribute to Thomas Merton

I am a lamp,
a silent lamp,
burning in the space and time
given as my life.

Not with steady flame I burn,
but under influences
good and bad,
I flicker.

But yet I burn,
and give some light.


"By Heart"

Last [summer] my daughter asked me to stay with her children (her almost four year old daughter, and one and a half year old son) for an hour or so while she attended to a task with focus. It turned out to be more delightful than I could have imagined, and a cause for simple, peaceful and enlivening reflection afterward.

I had barely come into the living room, when my granddaughter wanted to play a CD from vacation bible school that had been a key part of that week. Amazingly, and almost humorously, she had the dance moves almost down pat, perfectly. That is mainly because her mom, my daughter, had been responsible to lead the dozens of young children in their daily music activity. And as can be imagined, those songs had been played dozens of times at home in the previous month, so that they and their accompanying dances could be "taught" to the VBS participants. Not surprisingly, my granddaughter knew it all by heart.

Of course, the idea was that Grandma was supposed to follow her lead! Well, I did, and I experienced the greatest surprise - I was really flooded with joy!

It flashed through my mind while driving home (I might add that some of the route is through very lovely pastoral scenery), that a key to that joy was the freedom and focusing that came from jumping in. Here I was, sixty-three year old grandma, enjoying the fact that my granddaughter could be absorbed in the music, confident she knew it by heart.

All of a sudden it occurred to me that the "knowing by heart" is connected to drills, the repetition, a waiting period until all takes hold. And what happens with drilling? There's a boring through - not necessarily fun or exciting, but a definitive purpose to reach that opening, the destination. The knowing "by heart" is very connected with our whole being. And I see that displayed so exquisitely in the range of experiences by today's Saint, Elijah. There's the being still, the trekking, and the bursts, giving a glimpse of our God most Holy, most powerful, while most interiorly, gently working and abiding, giving rise to more than we can describe this side of heaven.

Written by "A Listening Heart"

Carmel: Garden, Mountain

By Gideon Pisanty (Gidip) גדעון פיזנטי [CC BY 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

At the heart of Carmel
    is both garden and mountain.

Filled from the Fountain,
   consummately gentle –
Waiting in the garden...
Being steeped in Dew, to burst 
   in a moment 
   to scale the Mount Who is Love.
Isn't that the way of the Heart?
In part, parched because of the work
And then, ever more thoroughly, His
Hidden thirst draws us to drink
His Draught manifest,
Ebbing and flowing,
Here and there,
Rooted in Him Who is our Rest,

Renewing Fire, Zeal, Stream –
   at the crest.

Written by A Listening Heart

See Older Posts...