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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Three Poems for the Coming of Spring – Part 1

I.Another Spring PoemIt cannot be otherwise than with these white-cappedDogwoods loitering here and thereAmid the thin lances of the pine trees aimedAt the sky.  The glass bottomBoat of the heavens floats slowly by overhead,While here below azaleas swirl like schools of fish.Yes, life teems, thick as a coral reef.A distant stretch of field lies strewnWith wriggly dandelions.  And here close
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Three Christmas Poems - Part 2

II.A Child is BornSurely you understood that, starting today, everything must begin anew.You, like us, born knowing next to nothing of the world,Must await the sun to introduce you to this thing called warmth.And you, like us, snatched from blindness, must now learnTo touch with feelers of recognition so many familiar faces.  LaterYou will have first to see the far horizon to hear the silver mountains
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Meeting the Sacred

--written at Marylake MonasteryThe moon rises, as if the disk could fill the black cave,Its entrance, then the topography of the place, Flowing out along paths that cross the lake:“No more weepingThis evening,"It says, its beauty keeping.How simple the saint I possess like anOld boat, whose love spans the whole lake,How easily its voice treads the water:I echo off the shorelineAnd sit under
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The Main Course--What is Contemplation? (Part Two)

St. John of the Cross        I've somewhat lost my train of thought in these reflections on the topic of contemplation which I've been pursuing, or have meant to be pursuing, in this blog.  No matter.  I'm not going to go back and try to recover it.  Instead, I'll forge ahead.        What, then, is contemplation? 
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part Three

    In my previous post on the poem The Dark Night I recounted the simple story of a lovers tryst, told by the woman, which the poem narrates.  But, in doing so, I omitted one key stanza, the central one, which lies at the heart of the poem, namely, stanza 5.  It reads:Night that guided me,Night lovelier than the dawn,O Night that unitesThe lover and beloved,Beloved made one
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part Two

       How does one express in poetry the experience of divine love?  One can try to do so directly, by using direct statement, and writing explicitly religious verse.  St. John of the Cross adopts this approach, and accomplishes it masterfully, in his poem The Living Flame of Love.       But usually this approach—to capture by
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