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

Seven Conversation Poems – Part 5


V. 

Life Lessons 

I used to do all kinds of things for the first time. The heart hid,
Trying not to hammer too loudly its thump, thump, thump
Into the air, though unable not to—it was, after all, my heart. 
* 
I stop for gas in a small Nebraska town, and You are there,
Passing into the afternoon. I see Your backside like 
A boarded-up house. At that instant the moment became itself. 
* 
I used to think that I had to keep chasing such moments,
Hoping to find each one in turn, like clues on a treasure map.
I had to advance into life, since life was a journey, and I 
Was traversing its lonesome highway. Of course, I wasn’t
Particularly good at it. My soul seemed always uncertain
What it was You were asking of me; and so I had to supply 
The whole spectrum of intensities—from beaten-down
browns
And bold blues, to blustery yellows and fig-leaf greens, 
From sheets of ragged red at sunset to threads of silvery sheen 
Soon thereafter. Now I’m content just to have arrived,

This briefest of moments, precisely where You are, passing
Into the afternoon, as the moment becomes itself unscathed.

*

It’s okay with me, now that I know it was always going to be okay,
As if the wheat fields and highways of Nebraska have at long last
Unburdened themselves of some message they’ve been wanting

These many years to tell me. Oh, it may take from my life
The excitement of worrying about how it will turn out; but there is
Still wonder to be had, and the beauty this world carries about
Like a boat at sea. 

                                    —Wind combs the cottonwood, its tresses
Sprayed with green paint. Soon the city will encroach on us,
A worn, frayed carpet stretched to the rim of the world. 

Even here I hear You, though. You’re telling me about
The breeze that night stirring at the edge of town, of how it
Suddenly grew chill and began to sting. I returned home

A bit shaken inside, hollow as an English horn. Today You’ve
Come to speak with compassion about these things long ago. 

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

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