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 3 of 7

III.Speaking of DeathInto the box of the black-eyed menace I go,Its coffin lid, like heaven itself, slammed shut.Steep cliffs loom large at each of its four wallsWhere vultures wait their turn in silence.I nod off.  Who knows whether, if I sayI've come here seeking life and wisdom,With these gifts, or with neither, or with someKind of hellish madness, I will return?  NoMatter.  I follow
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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 4

IV.Good FridayHis journey into the final end of it began in earnestWhen his voice first choked, spitting out a salty red brine.They had fed it to him like thick soup, ladling it upFrom deep inside his body.  In his stomach,His throat, his mouth, all the way up,It had burned like tears.  "Death will free me of it,"He'd hoped.  "Then this moment of dying will have becomeOne with my flesh." 
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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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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 1

I.To JerusalemI joined the little band of followers to fight the good fight,To stand face to face, toe to toe, with the Temple's faceless,Toeless tyranny.  For too many years the pleas of my peopleHad hurled themselves out over the wide land, only to beBaked and dried under the white sun like a mule's corpse.How often I braced myself to receive full-on the high tide ofThe news of the coming of
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Poems for the New Year – Part 4

IV.On Being BaptizedIn time I learned how to write of the sea.  Or, better,Of the wave that carried me out to sea.  Its warmChurning sound called me to the window.  I looked outAnd, behold, there it was, the wave gathering in the distance.I watched it roll in, utterly spellbound by the sight.Should I call to it, I wondered?  But before I could speakIt raised a cry of its own. 
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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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An Intermezzo

For thus says the Lord,The creator of the heavens,    who is God,The designer and maker of the earth,    who established it;Not as an empty waste did he create it,    but designing it to be lived in:I am the Lord, and there I no other.        —Isa 45: 18        Jesus of Nazareth is God’s
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Setting the Table—Part Two

        The following lines are from a poem by Kathleen Raine, a British poet and scholar who died in 2003:    And must I then take pity on    The raging of the storm    That rose up from the great abyss    Before the earth was made,    That pours the stars in cataracts    And
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