“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
The Ghost of Summer
Fri, Feb 15 2019
Splendor is part of it, but an elusive part, the part
Of Your absence. The scar and sharp ache of it
Bitter and unallayed, caught in the jutting density
Of today’s cold and early darkness. Your brief visit,
A lone sunbeam at noon, revived old memories—
Golden oldies jittering among dust motes that hover
In the air while the hour’s subtler urges wax nostalgic,
Then slink away, off into the icy cry of afternoon
As it clamps down upon sunset like a rusty hinge.
Above the lawn and veranda, the tall grass skirting
The lake, the sky allotted its incalculable size
To the working up of a uniformly weighted gray
Underbelly. There You hid Your head, Your bright
Eyes, the sunny smile You wear, the one that goes
Tick tick all the day, like a time bomb refusing to pop.
I heard your feet thumping methodically up and down
The whole length of earth’s hard drum. Suddenly,
You stumbled forward, falling face first like a pair of dice
On the vellum pages of a volume of sunlit poetry.
You have desired it so, wanting me to get over myself
And out into a vast romance centered on the World
To Come. But the stone walls and red-shingled roof
Crouch down around the day’s more mundane tasks,
Boxing me in with this truly unwelcome houseguest,
My hourly inattention—that tightened knot of self-
Absorption I wear like a noose about my neck. Oh, but
The thought of you did, like the sight of some distant
Soaring bird, release my inner visionary nature. “Maybe,
Just maybe,” I dared to venture, “I’ll lose myself in you
After all.” I’ll burrow into the present moment
Encasing the here-and-now. I’ll root out the blank
Clarity of the divine buried deep in the soil of its
Own blankness. I’ll offer You a blank stare in
Return—the one pressed repeatedly against
The invisible window of my bowled-over befuddlement.
“It really is an opening out and breathing in,” I mused.
So, let us pray:
May You nurture in me the sweep of a higher
Purpose bathed in gentle radiance. May even
The punier tremors of my heart be absorbed
In You, all those darker hues of life’s canvas
That cling like caked mud to the boots
Of some inoperable old tree stump. Or, on
The brighter side, that flurry of leaves fluttering
Moth-like in a sandstorm of reds and yellows—
Last season’s masterpiece of post-apocalyptic ruin.
You are within them all, autumn, winter, spring,
Flapping noiselessly—You their Rally Round
The Flag—while I who am parked in this timid
Sunlight hear Your hollow body tapping at
My eyelids, touching my days. May Your song
Fill me, Your dead cicada, echoing on and on.
Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD