Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Thérèse

Abraham Heschel
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“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 1 of 7

As those of you who read this blog may have noticed, I've discontinued the practice of attaching interpretive comments to my poems.  I felt too uncomfortable doing it, wanting the poem to speak for itself.But it has been suggested to me that, following each poem, I conclude with a simple question, something to prime the pump (to coin a phrase) of reflection for the reader.  It seemed like
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Three Poems for the Coming of Spring – Part 3

III.A Boy's Song of SpringI want to laugh and sing, to tell riddles or share with youThe dream that woke me this morning, feeding sunlight to my eyes.I want to mix my words with the clatter of a bluejay's boxcar as it passes,Throwing long, like a train whistle, the football of my thoughts.I want to ride Spring's purity of power, its unbridled freedom.  In a nutshell,To take up the joy of a lifetime
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 3

III.Our Lady of SorrowsI inch forward from the crowd, urged on by the gathering darkness;A few follow, pressing close behind as if tethered to me by a rope.A single, short cry floods the hills; soon it fades away, echoing onIn my mind's numbness, in the speechlessness of my heart.I am determined to show them, show all of them, these soldiers,That his head has slumped forward, his body hangs lifeless,His
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 2

II.A Contemplative in LentHow many times did I promise you everything,The wind shaking loose the sweet fruitOf sunrise or sunset, of snowfall in winterOr rain in spring?  How many times, andYou said nothing?  How often did I whisper,"It's me," waiting to receive an answer,And received none?  Yet I will try again this year.Yes, I will promise again to mold my soulInto a clod of soft black
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THE CITY AND BEYOND ~ Four Poems – Part 1

I.Nightfall~DallasSomehow, once I'd climbed out of the wellOf late afternoon,I found it there, set out on a plate,Still fresh after waiting all this timeFor me to arrive.  Yes, evening was offering itselfTo me like a blueberry muffin, with itsPurplish inner auraThat leaves a stain on the tongue.Never would I have asked anything more of youTo prove that you still, that you have always cared,O my
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Five Advent Poems – Part 4

IV.At the Deathbed of St. John of the CrossAnd when you died, we felt your hands trembling in ours; or was it our handsTrembling in yours?  The night had won through to us and stoopedAt the door like some beast come home to its cave; we heard itPurring contentedly--the fireplace ablaze, logs aflame.Maybe it was just your last, strangely tender breathing we heardSpread through the room like sleeping
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Listening Deeply

        First, I will quote a couple of lines from a poem by Jessica Powers (who in Carmel was known as Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD):        Music by right is for the solitaries         whom a long silence trains to the profound.        The lines are
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Prayer and Sabbath Rest - Part 1

        You might think I've been on sabbatical these past few months, and you'd have good reason, given my absence from this blog.  But I haven't.  Nonetheless, I have been learning something in my absence, something valuable.  And here's what I've learned.  It's difficult to keep a blog going when you're on the road for long stretches of time. 
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What is Contemplation? -- Contemplation as Experience and as Prayer

        One can have contemplative experiences in ways not explicitly religious, although most of us would still consider such experiences spiritual, using that word to describe them, and making a distinction between the spiritual and the religious. (As an aside, I would draw the line of this distinction somewhat in this way, namely, that the spiritual is a dimension of
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Setting the Table—Part One

        How a poem gets written varies from poet to poet, even from poem to poem.  Yet across the board there must be something mysterious about the process.  Why does the poet decide on just this particular word rather than another, although both appear, at least at first, to work equally well?  Why does the poet choose this image or metaphor or particular
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