Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

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

Holy Saturday


Swaddled in white air, the great ash tree sleeps fitfully.
Shadowless at noon I walk out among the roses and coriander,
A patch of geraniums nearby, all smiles.  Here one talks
About love poems, without the will to write one.
“Oh, I wish I could play the piano like a pro.  Clear and crisp
My interpretation of Prokofiev’s Toccata would be…”
So a voice in my head distractedly declares.

It’s Holy Saturday, and Jesus is in Hell—or Hades,
Sheol, the Pit; he’s paying the piper for us.  Underneath
The Underworld a booming cavern fills with water each spring.
No one can see it, but all can hear it sloshing about
Like milk in the stomach.  Jesus reaches down into the darkness
And, with cupped hands, draws up a drink, his lips
No longer cracked, his tongue no longer swollen and blistered.

    *

In 1308 my ancestors were among those massacred
By Teutonic Knights.  Yet one relative survived, a boy of 13,
Who hid behind sacks of onions in a cellar.  Later
He would set sail on the Baltic Sea, returning to Gdansk
After a decade at sea, older, wiser, weathered, missing
His right eye.  He’d come to fetch himself a bride.

And so my ancestral line awoke, lifting trunk and branches
And silvery buds like so many successful franchises
Dotting the map.  Let a crystalline wave spout upward
As if it were a sperm whale breaking the surface, leaping
Into the light, and flooding the sky with its joie de vivre.


Written by Fr. Bonaventure, OCD
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