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 2 of 7

New Day

II.

New Day, New Life

It was in the sky that the event occurred.  A sound
Like that of buffalo stampeding over stone pavement
Was shaken into life by the steady hammering
Of a wet wind pressing in over stormy seas.  Behemoth

Clouds crawled forward on their bellies, smearing
Gray shadows along the ground in shapes resembling
That of a mittened hand, its one, fat finger pointing west
To where the sun retreats daily, crouched down
Behind the dark hour of our Lord's Last Supper.

*

The storm has set, night has fallen; I see him,
The Son of Man, riding his white horse across
A moonlit sky, bearing in his hand the white flag
That announces a soft-spoken nature.  Surely

He's come to offer us his gentlest greeting, his
Supernatural radiance mingling blues, yellows, and
Reds, the three primary colors that huddle like daylight
Beneath the lingering darkness of this early hour, yet
Are ready even now to leap into view once dawn appears.

They have insinuated themselves into everything
And so will rise together, leading out thousands of souls
Into a burst of joy.  "Grass grows straight and tall, only
To be mowed down by the blade's sharp edge. So, what's
The point?"  Today such sentiments will be rejected.

*

How I wanted the whole world to share with me
In this Sabbath peace, this light breeze blowing in
Through the window, eager to bestow, as if with a
Kiss, its perfect quietude.  Let it expand forever, I

Declare, spreading out like the light of creation
Surfing a wave of the divine word.  I lose nothing
By it, for it was to the whole of humanity that God
Promised his undying kindness and mercy.  From

Behind unflinching patience saints peer out, capped
With halos and looking every bit like children, so full
Of love they hardly dare to move.  Still they offer us
The very Heart of Christ, a red planet if ever there

Was one, its atmosphere worn thin by sin and the
Lassitude sin brings; yet it prospers, endlessly, orbiting
High above the earth.  "You each have a gold coin
Hung about the neck; it catches fire whenever night
Departs and, amazingly, morning reemerges."  Amen.

***

The event referred to at the start of this poem is, very simply, a movement in the sky going from storm to nightfall to dawn and new day.  This overarching imagery clearly and simply enough refers, therefore, to a spiritual movement from interior storm and darkness to rebirth and new life.  The title suggests as much.

The poet's final state, expressed in the last four stanzas, is effusive.  Has your spiritual life taken you, in God's grace, to a similar moment of joyful abundance?  Can you join in the Amen that ends the poem with heartfelt gratitude?


Written by Fr. Bonaventure, OCD
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