Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

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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 3





    III.

Musings on Mortality


At first I thought—Death shall have the sensation of falling,
And as the dark rises to catch me, closing in around me,
Who can say what awaits below?  It could go on like this,
With me toppling head over heels, for a very long time,

Till the sheer loneliness of it all destroyed me, or the fear
Of the inexorable thud and sudden, all-consuming pain,
Which I’d have to keep pushing from my mind, finally
Overmastered me—like an ear-worm driving me mad.

    *

Then I thought—Death will be like having no say in the matter,
Whatever the matter is, and whatever it isn’t; nothing I say
Or do will make the least bit of difference.  Implacability
Will have taken hold, along with a helplessness pressing

The eternal question against my soul—who’s in charge here?
Who can save me?  Everything I have ever learned,
The whole viability motif that this organism supporting
My brain has sought with single-minded focus to master,

It will all desert me.  And it’s only fanciful to think that
I could ever freely choose to empty myself, handing myself
Over to death in a gesture of total self-renunciation.
The thought does huddle in my mind.  But wouldn’t it be

Just one more last ditch effort to reassert control, believing
It is I, this thing that I am, who does the renouncing, right?

    *

And so I thought—Maybe that’s how the Creator wants it,
A kind of perfecting of our freedom, long years in the making.
Beneath the invisible breeze of His love for us, unwavering
In its vastness, patiently coaxing us along, long-suffering,

But doggedly determined, death shall have the significance
Of making us infantile again, only this time with awareness,
Willing its helplessness as a prelude to rebirth.
                                                                                          Therefore,
I thought—Death shall have the sensation of waking up
To the fact that all my needs have been abundantly met.

Cast far away is the fear of being left behind, forsaken
On the treeless plain, alone in the tall grass, with the lion
Crouching near.  It took eons to instill that fear, so deep
That only death can destroy it.  And yet, behold, it is gone.


Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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