Jan 19 2018

Thomas Merton – Stranger

Published by under Poetry

Stranger
by Thomas Merton

When no one listens
To the quiet trees
When no one notices
The sun in the pool.

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

Or hails the first morning
Of a giant world
Where peace begins
And rages end:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond.

One cloud upon the hillside,
Two shadows in the valley
And the light strikes home.
Now dawn commands the capture
Of the tallest fortune,
The surrender
Of no less marvelous prize!

Closer and clearer
Than any wordy master,
Thou inward Stranger
Whom I have never seen,

Deeper and cleaner
Than the clamorous ocean,
Seize up my silence
Hold me in Thy Hand!

Now act is waste
And suffering undone
Laws become prodigals
Limits are torn down
For envy has no property
And passion is none.

Look, the vast Light stands still
Our cleanest Light is One!

— from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton


/ Image by trumeye /

Isn’t this a wonderful poem given to us by Merton? It’s worth going back and reading it again with a sense of inner stillness. (Go ahead, I’ll wait…)

The way this poem opens is fascinating —

When no one listens
To the quiet trees
When no one notices
The sun in the pool.

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

The “no one” here is you and me, Merton himself, the speaker of the poem. We encounter the real magic and mystery of the world when we can witness it as “no one.” That’s “Where peace begins / And rages end” — when there is no idea of self to assert its right to be the central focus of everything.

That’s when things unfold and reveal themselves to be deeply and utterly themselves:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond.

(Love those lines. The witness is so still, almost non-existent, and we are left selfless amidst the “work of God.”)

And then we have the “Stranger” of the poem’s title–

Closer and clearer
Than any wordy master,
Thou inward Stranger
Whom I have never seen,

Deeper and cleaner
Than the clamorous ocean,
Seize up my silence
Hold me in Thy Hand!

When the small, noisy self steps aside, we discover the vast, silent Self within, almost unknown to us, a stranger, yet there nonetheless, seated in wordless immensity. “Seize up my silence / Hold me in Thy Hand!” That’s the way. Fierce and trembling, the mystic calls out to be grabbed whole by that unknown, oh-so-intimate one.

Look, the vast Light stands still
Our cleanest Light is One!


Recommended Books: Thomas Merton

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton A Thomas Merton Reader The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Monk & Poet: A Critical Study


Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton poetry, Christian poetry Thomas Merton

US (1915 – 1968) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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Jan 19 2018

tapped bell

Some days it’s best
to do nothing
but ring like a tapped bell.

No responses yet

Jan 15 2018

Maya Angelou – A Brave and Startling Truth (Martin Luther King Day)

Published by under Poetry

A Brave and Startling Truth
by Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

— from A Brave and Startling Truth, by Maya Angelou


/ Image by Dencii /

It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

This poem by Maya Angelou was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, but I think it’s a good choice to remember Martin Luther King Day, as well.

King is rightly remembered as one of history’s great champions of civil rights and the dignity of all groups of people.

When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean

But Reverend King’s vision was even broader and more encompassing than that. He spoke not just for black people, but for all people. He spoke up for the poor and dispossessed of all groups. He began to speak out strongly against the escalating war in Vietnam, pointing out how war and imperialist policies impoverished society, both spiritually and materially.

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

King argued that, in a just society, money should not be wasted on war and should, instead, be used to resuscitate and rebuild our struggling communities so they can mature into vibrant centers of human capability and possibility.

This is not the safe civil rights martyr taught to school children and lauded once a year by politicians. This is the King who questioned not only institutionalized bigotry, but also institutionalized poverty, wealth inequality, war, and empire. And it is worth noting that it was only when he started to raise these broader questions that he was assassinated.

Some days we need prophets to make us squirm, not just safe saints we can celebrate and then ignore.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pacifist, yes, but he was not passive. He was a fighter! His message, when we listen, still challenges us today to do more than get along or slightly improve the status quo. He called for an open heart, a strong will, and a dedication to all our brothers and sisters in humanity — to courageously work and sacrifice in order to embody these truths of the human spirit in our lives and in the structures of society. Now that is revolutionary!

And that is the Martin Luther King I bow to today.

Race Does Not Exist

On this Martin Luther King day, I encourage you to also read my past discussion of how race does not exist:

Race Does Not Exist

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Email Changes

Because of the ongoing technical challenges I have had with my current bulk email service, which have led to many incorrect email bouncebacks and this continuing problem that requires me to display the full text of all links, I am currently investigating affordable alternatives. I expect to change bulk emailing services soon. I don’t yet know if that will mean a change in the appearance of these poem emails. But they should be more reliable and cleanly formatted, and less likely to be mistakenly filtered out as spam by your own email services.

I wanted to let you know that the time and expenses involved in these sorts of technical issues are a significant part of what your donations help pay for. So thank you to everyone for your support!


Recommended Books: Maya Angelou

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women And Still I Rise A Brave and Startling Truth The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou
More Books >>


Maya Angelou, Maya Angelou poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Maya Angelou

US (1928 – 2014) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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Jan 15 2018

action is ritual

Every noble action is ritual —
an attempt to awaken wholeness and holiness
within
by enacting it externally.

No responses yet

Jan 12 2018

Wislawa Szymborska – A Contribution to Statistics

Published by under Poetry

A Contribution to Statistics
by Wislawa Szymborska

English version by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

Out of a hundred people

those who always know better
— fifty-two

doubting every step
— nearly all the rest,

glad to lend a hand
if it doesn’t take too long
— as high as forty-nine,

always good
because they can’t be otherwise
— four, well maybe five,

able to admire without envy
— eighteen,

suffering illusions
induced by fleeting youth
— sixty, give or take a few,

not to be taken lightly
— forty and four,

living in constant fear
of someone or something
— seventy-seven,

capable of happiness
— twenty-something tops,

harmless singly, savage in crowds
— half at least,

cruel
when forced by circumstances
— better not to know
even ballpark figures,

wise after the fact
— just a couple more
than wise before it,

taking only things from life
— thirty
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
— eighty-three
sooner or later,

righteous
— thirty-five, which is a lot,

righteous
and understanding
— three,

worthy of compassion
— ninety-nine,

mortal
— a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

— from Poems New and Collected, by Wislawa Szymborska / Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak


/ Image by Andy Maguire /

I always knew statistics had a poetic heart. After such terrible abuse by advertisers and politicians, statistics will redeem themselves in great and painful art.

worthy of compassion
— ninety-nine,

mortal
— a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

Of course, even the best-natured of statistics exist to taunt us, to challenge us. Then again, that’s what those irascible poets do too…


Recommended Books: Wislawa Szymborska

Poems New and Collected Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems Nothing Twice: Selected Poems Dancing with Joy: 99 Poems
More Books >>


Wislawa Szymborska, Wislawa Szymborska poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Wislawa Szymborska

Poland (1923 – 2012) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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Jan 12 2018

All of mysticism

All of mysticism comes down to this:

to recognize
what is already
and always here.

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Jan 10 2018

Rabindranath Tagore – Listen, can you hear it?

Published by under Poetry

Listen, can you hear it? (from The Lover of God)
by Rabindranath Tagore

English version by Tony Stewart and Chase Twitchell

Listen, can you hear it?
His bamboo flute speaks
the pure language of love.
The moon enlightens the trees,
the path, the sinuous Yamuna.
Oblivious of the jasmine’s scent
I stagger around,
disheveled heart bereft of modesty,
eyes wet with nerves and delight.
Tell me, dear friend, say it aloud:
is he not my own Dark Lord Syama?
Is it not my name his flute pours
into the empty evening?

For eons I longed for God,
I yearned to know him.
That’s why he has come to me now,
deep emerald Lord of my breath.
O Syama, whenever your faraway flute thrills
through the dark, I say your name,
only your name, and will my body to dissolve
in the luminous Yamuna.

Go to her, Lord, go now.
What’s stopping you?
The earth drowns in sleep.
Let’s go. I’ll walk with you.

— from The Lover of God, by Rabindranath Tagore / Translated by Tony Stewart


/ Image by Rajesh Nagulakond /

There is a fascinating story behind this poem and the other poems of Tagore’s The Lover of God… In the late 19th century, a respected Bengali journal published a newly discovered collection poems by a previously unknown 17th century poet, Bhanusimha, or Sun Lion. The critics celebrated these newly unearthed bhakti masterpieces.

The problem was that Bhanusimha never actually existed. Bhanisimha was the pseudonym used by a brilliant 14-year-old boy — the young Rabindranath Tagore.

He of course matured into one of the greatest poets of modern India.

Tagore continued to edit and refine these poems over his lifetime, leaving us with a collection of modern bhakti masterpieces.

Just a few notes about this selection:

As with many bhakti poems, this is, on the surface, a poem of love and longing. Radha pines for her beloved, Krishna. But these are usually understood to reflect deeper truths. Radha is the soul, the spiritual seeker. Krishna is God, the Beloved.

Krishna plays a flute, an enchanting melody that calls all souls to himself. The sound of his flute is the hum that underlies all creation, the soft sound heard in the silence of meditation.

His beauty is often compared with the moon. This moon is also the luminescence of enlightenment.

The Yamuna is one of the great rivers of India, but she is also a goddess who fell in love with Krishna. So the reference to the sinuous Yamuna is meant to evoke both an erotic femininity and also emphasize that love for Krishna. To dissolve in the Yamuna is to disappear into eternal love for God/Krishna.

The final verse switches from Radha’s voice to the poet’s, encouraging Krishna to respond to the longing of the soul. Something quite playful in that…

Go to her, Lord, go now.
What’s stopping you?
The earth drowns in sleep.
Let’s go. I’ll walk with you.


Recommended Books: Rabindranath Tagore

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Gitanjali The Lover of God The Fugitive Lover’s Gift and Crossing
More Books >>


Rabindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Rabindranath Tagore

India (1861 – 1941) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu

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Jan 10 2018

behind the breastbone

The holiest place
we can discover

is immediately behind the breastbone.

One response so far

Jan 05 2018

Pat Schneider – The Patience of Ordinary Things

Published by under Poetry

The Patience of Ordinary Things
by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

— from Another River: New and Selected Poems, by Pat Schneider


/ Image by snap713 /

I’m back. We’re back. The Poetry Chaikhana is back.

Sorry about the unannounced hiatus, but I decided I should take some time to recharge my batteries.

I hope it was a special Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, New Year (pick any or all of the above) for you and your families.

=

I want to say, Thank you, Lalita, for introducing me to this poem. Since I am new to Pat Schneider’s writing, I don’t know much about her. I look forward to learning more.

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea…

There is something supremely settling about this poem. The poet reminds us to see how each object, simply by acting according to their nature is actually an embodiment of a sort of universal love.

How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.

Objects simply are as they are, and their “actions” naturally flow from their form. Through being, self-acceptance, and natural self-expression, these objects express a humble enlightenment and service in the world.

We just need to see it. And learn from these quiet teachers.

And what is more generous than a window?


Recommended Books: Pat Schneider

Another River: New and Selected Poems Writing Alone and with Others Olive Street Transfer How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography
More Books >>


Pat Schneider, Pat Schneider poetry,  poetry Pat Schneider

US (Contemporary)

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Jan 05 2018

wild places

Protect the wild places in yourself.

No responses yet

Dec 08 2017

Umm Sinan – The Rose

Published by under Poetry

The Rose
by Ummi Sinan

English version by Jennifer Ferraro and Latif Bolat

I dreamt I came to a magnificent city
      whose palace was the rose, rose.
The crown and throne of the great sultan,
      his garden and chambers
            were the rose, rose.

Here they buy and sell but roses
      and the roses are the scales they use,
Weighing roses with more roses,
      the marketplace and bazaar
            are all roses, rose.

The white rose and the red rose
      grew coupled in one garden.
Their faces turn as one toward the thorn.
      Both thorn and blossom
            are the rose, rose.

Soil is the rose and stone is the rose,
      withered is the rose, fresh is the rose.
Within the Lord’s private gardens
      both slender cypress and old maple
            are the rose, rose.

The rose is turning the waterwheel
      and gets ground between the stones.
The wheel turns round as the water flows.
      Its power and its stillness
            are the rose, rose.

From the rose a tent appears
      filled with an offering of everything.
Its gatekeepers are the holy prophets.
      The bread and the wine they pour
            are the rose, rose.

Oh Ummi Sinan, heed the mystery
      of the sorrow of nightingale and rose.
Every cry of the forlorn nightingale
            is for the rose, the rose.

— from Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey, Translated by Jennifer Ferraro / Translated by Latif Bolat


/ Image by Jay Khemani /

Can’t you smell the perfume of roses in the air after reading this poem?

Ummi Sinan gives us a vision where all the world is filled with roses. A world made of roses. Not just roses, but “the rose” — The Rose.

In Sufi mystical language the Rose is often used as an image of God, and the heart — God as the true Heart of Being.

The rose unfolds in a gentle circling that invites one to yield inward. The rose is a symbol of lovers and of union. The rose resonates strongly with the gently awakened heart.

The rose grows from a bush of thorns yet reveals a delicate inner beauty and shares an intimate, sweet wine-like fragrance, symbolic of how the soul emerges from the tribulations of worldly difficulty and, in so doing, recognizes its innate beauty.

When Ummi Sinan recognizes the Rose everywhere, it is the mystic’s recognition that God has taken up residence within the heart (or, rather, that the Divine presence has finally been recognized there) — and it is the further recognition that all of creation is somehow within the awakened heart. Everything encountered is encountered in the heart.

Let’s get a little more specific with some of the sacred imagery here…

Ummi Sinan gives us an image of “the white rose and the red rose” that grow “coupled in one garden.” This is an important pairing of colors that appears in esoteric traditions all over the world, in Sufism, in western alchemy, as a sign of rank in the Catholic Church, painted on Hindu and Buddhist temples — and in our images of Santa Claus. The colors white and red represent the masculine and feminine energies on all levels. White is the male and red is the female. The white represents purity, essence, divine spirit; the red is the power of manifestation and awakening life. So when Ummi Sinan tells us of a white rose and a red rose that are “coupled” in the divine garden, he is giving us an image of the fundamental polarities in natural, eternal balance within the divine garden. Recognizing this harmony on all levels is a prerequisite to entering the rose garden.

In the closing lines, Sinan reminds himself (and us) to “heed the mystery / of the sorrow of the nightingale and rose.” In Sufi poetry, the nightingale is said to sing such an enchanting, mournful song because it is hopelessly in love with the rose. The rose is the Beloved, the Heart of hearts, and the nightingale is its lover, the seeker — the Sufi. “Every cry of the forlorn nightingale / is for the rose, the rose.” Every yearning in the world, every cry of longing and desire in the world is really the crying out of creation for the Beloved. It is the crying out for the intoxication of unity.

The wheel turns round as the water flows.
Its power and its stillness
are the rose, rose.


Recommended Books: Ummi Sinan

Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey Gul: The Rose (Audio CD)


Ummi Sinan

Turkey (16th Century) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Dec 08 2017

fuel

Let every experience
be fuel for the fire
of love.

One response so far

Dec 01 2017

Francis of Assisi – Prayer Inspired by the Our Father

Published by under Poetry

Prayer Inspired by the Our Father
by Francis of Assisi

English version by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP & Ignatius C. Brady, OFM

O OUR most holy FATHER,
Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior

WHO ARE IN HEAVEN:
In the angels and in the saints,
Enlightening them to love, because You, Lord, are light
Inflaming them to love, because You, Lord, are love
Dwelling in them and filling them with happiness,
      because You, Lord, are the Supreme Good,
            the Eternal Good
      from Whom comes all good
      without Whom there is no good.

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME:
May our knowledge of You become ever clearer
That we may know the breadth of Your blessings
      the length of Your promises
      the height of Your majesty
      the depths of Your judgments

YOUR KINGDOM COME:
So that You may rule in us through Your grace
and enable us to come to Your kingdom
      where there is an unclouded vision of You
            a perfect love of You
            a blessed companionship with You
            an eternal enjoyment of You

YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN:
That we may love you with our whole heart by always thinking of You
            with our whole soul by always desiring You
            with our whole mind by directing all our
                  intentions to You and by seeking Your
                  glory in everything
            and with our whole strength by spending all our
                  energies and affections
                  of soul and body
                  in the service of Your love
                  and of nothing else
and may we love our neighbors as ourselves
      by drawing them all with our whole strength to Your love
      by rejoicing in the good fortunes of others as well as our own
      and by sympathizing with the misfortunes of others
      and by giving offense to no one

GIVE US THIS DAY:
in memory and understanding and reverence
      of the love which our Lord Jesus Christ had for us
      and of those things which He said and did and suffered for us
OUR DAILY BREAD
Your own Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ

AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES:
Through Your ineffable mercy
through the power of the Passion of Your Beloved Son
      together with the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin
                  Mary and all Your chosen ones

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US:
And whatever we do not forgive perfectly,
do you, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full
so that we may truly love our enemies
and fervently intercede for them before You
returning no one evil for evil
and striving to help everyone in You

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
Hidden or obvious
Sudden or persistent

BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Past, present and to come.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

— from Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality, Translated by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP / Translated by Ignatius C. Brady, OFM


/ Image by cogdogblog /

I know many of you will instinctively react against this selection’s tone. It might have too much of a Sunday school savor for your taste.

I personally find this beautiful and fascinating. It is a line-by-line meditation of The Lord’s Prayer, that most central prayer of Christianity. But this isn’t just one more devotional Christian poem; this is by St. Francis of Assisi! This poem gives us a unique window into his inner life of prayer. When this greatly beloved saint said his “Our Father” prayer, this is what each line meant to him. This is what he wanted everyone to understand through reciting that essential prayer of the Christian world.

A figure like Francis transcends Christian tradition. His simplicity, his radical commitment to love, his connection to nature, even his sense of humor have made him one of the most loved spiritual figures throughout the world. So let’s set aside the more overtly Christian references, if they make you uncomfortable. What is he revealing here that perhaps you’ve never found in the lines of The Lord’s Prayer before?

A few observations of my own:

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME:
May our knowledge of You become ever clearer

To Francis, “hallowing” the name of God is not some pious formula of respect. To him, it is about cultivating deep, intimate knowledge of God. It is personal. It is about clarity and transformation within the individual’s own awareness.

YOUR KINGDOM COME…

YOUR WILL BE DONE…

These days, unfortunately, it is difficult not to read these lines through the clouded filter of hardline Christian literalists, who understand them as a divine mandate for theocracy and might. But notice how Francis reads these lines. He keeps mentioning love. The kingdom he sees is one of love for God, divine vision, nearness to God, and blissful delight:

where there is an unclouded vision of You
            a perfect love of You
            a blessed companionship with You
            an eternal enjoyment of You

And, to Francis, the Divine Will is fulfilled, not through force, but again — through love. This is the mystic’s passionate, burning love that consumes all else:

…by spending all our
                  energies and affections
                  of soul and body
                  in the service of Your love
                  and of nothing else

But, for Francis, this isn’t an exclusive, esoteric sort of love that cuts one off from the rest of the world. In seeing the Divine everywhere, in everyone, our love for God must expand in all directions, find a home in every person and in all things. He recalls to us that oft quoted and sadly underapplied injunction by Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves:

and may we love our neighbors as ourselves
      by drawing them all with our whole strength to Your love
      by rejoicing in the good fortunes of others as well as our own
      and by sympathizing with the misfortunes of others
      and by giving offense to no one

In Francis’s vision, the Kingdom is one of love, community, compassion, service.

We are given a challenge — to participate, but with a humble, open heart.

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US:
And whatever we do not forgive perfectly,
do you, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full
so that we may truly love our enemies
and fervently intercede for them before You
returning no one evil for evil
and striving to help everyone in You

Forget the centuries worth of theology and dusty debate. Whether you seek comfort and help from the Virgin Mary or Kuan Yin or Durga, whether you seek light and guidance from Christ or the Prophet Muhammad, Shiva or the Boddhisattvas; the Eternal encompasses every name that is called, every rite followed… and is not wounded by another’s choice.

In this Kingdom, the key that grants entrance is not what sectarians think it is. This Kingdom is not for Christians, but for the Christ-like, regardless of religious tradition. The price of citizenship is not adherence to a creed, but possession of a love so all-consuming that no hatred can remain, no tally sheet can be kept, no person and no being is left outside the circle of your heart.


Recommended Books: Francis of Assisi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time
More Books >>


Francis of Assisi, Francis of Assisi poetry, Christian poetry Francis of Assisi

Italy (1181 – 1226) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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Dec 01 2017

this moment is enough

Relax
until you find yourself saying —

this moment is enough.

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Nov 22 2017

Thomas Merton – A Practical Program for Monks

Published by under Poetry

A Practical Program for Monks
by Thomas Merton

1
Each one shall sit at table with his own cup and spoon, and with his own repentance. Each one’s own business shall be his most important affair, and provide his own remedies.
They have neglected bowl and plate.
Have you a wooden fork?
Yes, each monk has a wooden fork as well as a potato.

2
Each one shall wipe away tears with his own saint, when three bells hold in store a hot afternoon. Each one is supposed to mind his own heart, with its conscience, night and morning.
Another turn on the wheel: ho hum! And observe the Abbot!
Time to go to bed in a straw blanket.

3
Plenty of bread for everyone between prayers and the psalter: will you recite another?
Merci, and Miserere.
Always mind both the clock and the Abbot until eternity.
Miserere.

4
Details of the Rule are all liquid and solid. What canon was the first to announce regimentation before us? Mind the step on the way down!
Yes, I dare say you are right, Father. I believe you; I believe you.
I believe it is easier when they have ice water and even a lemon.
Each one can sit at table with his own lemon, and mind his own conscience.

5
Can we agree that the part about the lemon is regular?
In any case, it is better to have sheep than peacocks, and cows rather than a chained leopard says Modest, in one of his proverbs.
The monastery, being owner of a communal rowboat, is the antechamber of heaven.
Surely that ought to be enough.

6
Each one can have some rain after Vespers on a hot afternoon, but ne quid nimis, or the purpose of the Order will be forgotten.
We shall send you hyacinths and a sweet millennium.
Everything the monastery provides is very pleasant to see and to sell for nothing.
What is baked smells fine. There is a sign of God on every leaf that nobody sees in the garden. The fruit trees are there on purpose, even when no one is looking. Just put the apples in the basket.
In Kentucky there is also room for a little cheese.
Each one shall fold his own napkin, and neglect the others.

7
Rain is always very silent in the night, under such gentle cathedrals.
Yes, I have taken care of the lamp, Miserere.
Have you a patron saint, and an angel?
Thank you. Even though the nights are never dangerous, I have one of everything.

— from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton


/ Image by KittyKaht /

I really love this stream of consciousness poem. Merton takes all of the little routines and hierarchies and internal dialog of Catholic monastic life, and pokes fun at them while, at the same time, he elevates them to the level of sacred ritual. There is something profoundly honest about this poem… a playful, unadorned bluntness that is both frank and humble.

Each one can sit at table with his own lemon, and mind his own conscience.

=

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, may it be a time of good food, a good time with family and friends, and renewed recognition of all the good things in life.


Recommended Books: Thomas Merton

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton A Thomas Merton Reader The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Monk & Poet: A Critical Study


Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton poetry, Christian poetry Thomas Merton

US (1915 – 1968) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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Nov 22 2017

Action

Action proceeds from stillness.

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Nov 17 2017

D. H. Lawrence – Pax

Published by under Poetry

Pax
by D. H. Lawrence

All that matters is to be at one with the living God
to be a creature in the house of the God of Life.

Like a cat asleep on a chair
at peace, in peace
and at one with the master of the house, with the mistress,
at home, at home in the house of the living,
sleeping on the hearth, and yawning before the fire.

Sleeping on the hearth of the living world
yawning at home before the fire of life
feeling the presence of the living God
like a great reassurance
a deep calm in the heart
a presence
as of the master sitting at the board
in his own and greater being,
in the house of life.

— from The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, by D. H. Lawrence


/ Image by Dee.Dee.M /

All that matters is to be at one with the living God
to be a creature in the house of the God of Life.

I had a couple of very good friends in childhood, but in many ways my closest companion was a calico cat named, Kitty Kumbah (a singsong name made up by a four-year-old me). She saw me through my parents’ divorce, through a disorienting move from Oregon to Southern California, and along the bumpy road into adolescence. She sat patiently listening to my talking and tantrums. She slept on my bed each night and, one year, gave birth to a litter of kittens on my belly while I was asleep. When I was 16, Kitty Kumbah died in my arms, having carried me safely through my childhood.

feeling the presence of the living God
like a great reassurance
a deep calm in the heart

What I remember most was how she taught me meditation, stillness, poise, contentment, and the importance of a well-chosen seat. She taught me pax… peace. That cat was my first spiritual teacher.

Like a cat asleep on a chair
at peace, in peace


Recommended Books: D. H. Lawrence

The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems The Selected Poems of D. H. Lawrence Acts of Attention: The Poems of D. H. Lawrence Self & Sequence: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence
More Books >>


D. H. Lawrence, D. H. Lawrence poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry D. H. Lawrence

England (1885 – 1930) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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