“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 1
Mon, Oct 7 2019
Seasons of a Soul
It’s night, and the sky has turned in, wrapped in downy haze.
The oak tree just outside my window sways slightly, beset
By its own singing. Under my breath my being asserts
That all of it, the whole shebang, must stand still for a moment,
At least till I count to ten. It smooths itself out, pressing
Against me, needling my heart; then the world steps forward
And begins to wobble on shaky legs—a weightlifter attempting
A clean and jerk, his barbells weighted with too much wonder.
The moment’s become unthinkable, stationed beside, before,
Above, behind, around me; it’s become unthinkably close.
Summer is over; the air sparkles again, the edges have returned
To things—to the stars at night, to the moon in a big blue sky.
Crabapples flock beneath the shade of a crabapple tree, while
Sycamores tower over all, their leaves as big as a bear’s paw.
Squirrels crowd round to exchange gossip, each speaking
Out of turn. I shush them, one by one, my cheeks equally puffy,
Like a cherub afloat on the golden air. Yes, I am here, too.
Only butterflies can rival the vim and swish of my wings.
We’re standing under a winter sky, You and I; the wide sweep
Of clouds overhead hesitates, as if the worst possible thing
That could happen were about to happen. Seeing nothing,
It moves on. Instead, widely spaced snowflakes begin to fall,
Materializing as if out of thin air. Yet here they are, swirling
Like feathery gnats. That the world can be thus remade
One thing at a time, without my even noticing it—the feel of it
Registers in my bones as something altogether, absolutely true.
A new and gentler arrangement follows, warm as a room
Shot through with sunlight; far away a dripping sound awaits
Its turn on stage. Today or tomorrow, the day after, the day
After that, I’ll call for it. Then, like St. Therese herself, spring
Will pop up carrying a ripe bouquet of crocuses in its arms
And a wicker-basket full of yellowish green buds to dress
The mighty oak trees with. Grass grown perpetually brown
Will again test the air, its fingers slender and green.
As for doubt and hesitation, those two most human of traits—
They have no place here; the fickleness of the heart,
Like a way of life returning for yet another yearly go-round,
Gives way to the sight of a blue sky widely saluting the occasion.
It’s springtime, time for a truly noble vision of life, one worthy
Of Your gifts—A cathedral rises from the sea, bells tolling madly;
Its towering silhouette, like nightfall, moves in and blots out the sun.
Written by Fr. Bonaventure, OCD