Leisure

Six days, six suns, the seventh comes
God rested; Man does as He
To make as Maker, then to rest,
Bring Time closer to Eternity,
And artfully we spin the threads,
Of our priceless, now worthless work.

Star-struck

Walking the wandering woods,
A minstrel strode, humming,
Whistling a tune to the moon.
Nothing could harm him,
Careless he, from fear free,
Boldly thumping boots
O’er trees’ soil and roots.

Just humming a tune
To a new-strung verse
In the dark, when hark!
There! He heard a hiss
Through the mist – an arrow?
A bolt? A Faery?

Clutching hard his wooden mace,
He peered to the stars, the sky,
The tree-topped trunks and –
A falling star struck him in the face.

My Kingdom is Not of This World (II)

With great creaks and a groan, a giant stone,
By the very Sling of God was thrown –
Towards the Holy City hurled.
With it rose a riotous cheer,
That struck and frightened the Saracen ear.

There the Father looked down on his little boys,
For His honour fighting with their metal toys.
Smiling, He whispered through their clamour and fight,
While stars burst forward in the evening light,
And steel edge hissed and javelins twirled,
“My Kingdom, sons, is not of this world.”


Audio Version:

The World Fell Silent

Did everyone simultaneously become deaf or did everything in the universe fall silent? 

On a certain level the two are the same despite the first being a defect in hearers and the latter a simple absence of noise-making. But whether it was deafness striking all creatures that can hear or every noise being utterly quieted, there was made Silence.

Imagine if you will, a world forced for a day to bear no noises.

People put their hands to their ears, a strange fear creeping up their arms.
Man-made noise, pretended art, dies leaving only the cold hole that it formerly clouded. Images serve as no shield. There is nothing to drown the heavy soundlessness. Now consciences long strangled begin to whisper, questioning, probing, revealing in reflection.
All attempted speech makes only a little tingling in the throat. Curses and angry words move only in hearts, poison only the hearts who made them.
Many turn about and go numbly, quickly, to the safety of their homes, little man-made worlds. Shelters offer no refuge – further must many fly.
God is too proximate when the mind is unfettered, the self is too well known and some unbind their souls.

The Word of God remains unheard still by these, His commands and pleas abandoned.
But there are still a few who remember Him as always.

In the clarity of quietude angels continue their missions unmoved.
The old priest in the chapel never notices the difference, for all the noises of earth are nothing.
Religious women bring forth prayer in silence still and listen with their hearts.
The mother holding her sleeping child looks in silence – nearly adoration – on the miracle she made with God.
Men follow St. Joseph, continue the work of their hands and never feel the absence of idle talk.
Butterflies swoop skyward and the little ants continue on with their duties, unfazed as ever by the oddities of humanity.

Illium’s Rebirth

Traveler, you seem to me blind. Permit me to be all of your senses for you while you rest here. If you would, lift the eyes of your mind, be willing to see and I will be a light to you. Listen now to words and let them wash over you; stand like a rock in the breakers, for distant, deep blue and ancient, as a thing older than the sky, lies the sea.

Serene, unshaken by war, it murmurs melodically, playing with dead men, toying with broken armour; washing clean the shining spearheads strewn by the hundreds on the shore which look like teeth of some sea monster. All have been borne and gifted to her by the river. The waves adorn the shore with an array of glittering bronze like a goddess flirting with vanities. After claiming these things of man unchallenged it stretches, reaching out beyond the sight of man to comprehend the world.

Look closer about you, take a breath. Here is a field once green and thriving but now a hoof-torn muddied field, littered with corpses of horses and men. The earth is steaming still from heated battle and blood and the angry glare of the sun.
The heavy tang of rusted iron rises with the fog where the swords of deity contended; black mire oozes in great pools and dark red streams mingle with them. Even the blood of gods has fallen here in this contest of fate and the earth greedily draws it in.

Listen . . . listen. No sound of the ocean reaches here.
Following the clouds rising, dark with the scent of blood, crows call to their brothers, screeching as bone broken by bronze or steel shivering on stone, summoning one another to the dark feast of the dead.
The slain lie as wheat newly cut and the harvesters gather. 
The dogs are coming.

Look up now. Look up.
As the daylight recedes in a sanguine glow, the sky is unevenly divided – the east still is light. Nature is defied.
A burning city shudders and groans in a great ruddy smoke, flares and flames as though it were another sun contending with Apollo’s chariot. Ghosts of the dead prophecy there, petition their cruel gods for rest and the ancient altars are broken.

And born again in bloodshed, the world grows silent in the sunrise of Rome as the sun falls on fallen Troy. 

Cross of the Rock-shelter River

In a somber light a man passed by
The lonely path which carried him
Through shadow’d gloom within his heart
Without, it shone around him dark.

In day or night there was no change,
For dwelling alone, turned within
Naught to be seen but dull, unending
Living – man’s death with his sin.

So round ensnared by mind and thought
He traveled days and down the hills,
Turning ’round the mystery
Of our enslavement to our wills.

Until there found him forest green
And shaded hollow filled within
Near mottled flecks of violet shade
In feath’ry air, a misty sheen

Where stilled a hushed echo
And little creatures fled
Away from Man as man fled God
The trees clear bled, and green turned grey.

He halted, hearing a new wind
And with the sun’s break in the leaves –
Or was it leaves that broke the light? –
A shiv’ring slice of thought came twining
Through a door outside his mind.

You care for the tree which held Me,
And work with  tools that pierced Me,
But sadness finds you when you look,
At yourself and the faults and failings,
Of the souls I saved through these.


Don’t seal closed the open door,
I stand without a-waiting.
You snare your thoughts in circles,
Bruising your soul with sin,
But find escape, this prison break
When you just let Me in.

Escape not from yourself
Run never from your nature
If God became as one of thee,
You flee – you flee from me.


Find not disgrace in wandering
Deliberations deep,
If you will turn out from within
‘Tis My truth that you seek.

You think you fear Eternity –
But think of it as time,
You trap yourself in creation
Forgetting it is Mine.

While men fight bitter battles,
Rivers of blood red spills,
But the Man alive brings comfort
To the lost soul in the hills.


And as the moon arched high that night,
As sun fled playfully,
In a final jest the great light gave
The flare of the Trinity.

*The photo was taken on the bank of the Androscoggin River at sunset.
Its name comes from the Abenaki or Penobscot dialects, and means ‘River of rock shelters’.




The New Year

Ah, so 2020 is exiting and now everything will be fine – right?
My dear superstitious friends, 2020 happened to be the year in which humanity made a fumble. The name we place on a certain segment of time has nothing to do with what we do within it (proven by most children during ‘naptime’).
Of course we can always hope that this coming year will be ‘better’ than the past was, but maybe we ought to be hoping to be better in the year instead, and then Actually Being Better. If we wait around for humanity to perfect itself, we’ll die having done nothing for our souls

We live in a world where we are told simultaneously that we have to create ourselves, our futures, our world, and that we are helpless and despair is normal. That’s all true to some extent: We don’t make ourselves as we are in our body-soul-ness, but we do have some say in forming ourselves physically and spiritually; present actions necessarily have effect on the future and our neighbors; we are utterly helpless on our own; despair could be said to be ‘normal’ but that doesn’t necessitate ‘goodness’ or any moral excuse for doing so.

What we don’t hear much is that we have been given everything without deserving it, and should receive and give our Time, Bodies, Souls, with grateful humility and love, and exchange this short life for an unending one. We’re invited to do that by the Creator, always have been.
He gives something to us and asks for it back – perhaps that seems unfair but without Him we would have nothing to give. Love gives entirely of what is asked of it for the good of another and is consequently united to the Beloved. We are human and Small Fallen Ones at that, so we are given many opportunities to do just that.

It’s just another year, to Whom are we going to give it?
Who and What are you going to love primarily?
How are you going to write this next paragraph in your Eternity?

Seaside Battlefield

Oh tell, dark mud, stained and dyed in rivulets of blood,
Why scream harsh tones, the ravens and crows,
Amidst the ash and hellish cries, choking skies
Bone and flesh, metal-torn, bowing to the reaper’s horn?
 
What saw you fading to the years,
What said you against the deafened ears,
To still their hearts to cold hard death?
What wind you stole to take their breath,
How lie you silent, reeking mid-sun,
The first is finished, the war begun.
“Silence, mortal, I am but they
Who in late years have passed this way,
They died to fall and live in me,
Someday to fall into the sea,
Forever roaring battle song

Assaulting ships and wrecking wrong.

“I saw more blood than I can hold,
To them who fell as they faded I told,
Be now at peace, no war can find you
And with new fire their forms flew on,
Kindling stars with battle-song,
The body of old falls deep to me,
Each soul goes to where he would be.
No tempest shrieking moves them now,
Before no conqueror shall they bow.
I lie here famished, glutted in death,
Waiting the tide to cleanse me again,
To send the memory of these wretched men,
To the grave, to the fish, to the birds, to their rest.”
And their memory? is it to be lost
As changing to fog flies the frost?
 
“What matters it now, they know who they are!
Some are remembered for the deeds they achieved,
But remember this, you hot-hearted fool,
Not Achilles would be known if not for the thousands
Who perished before him and after his wake,
Though his victims be piled and burned in red mountains,
Pain and oblivion spurting black fountains,
Leaving behind them ten thousand to grieve!
Alone man is futile, in battle or peace,
Surely ’tis true that great men may come –
Not one, I tell you, not a single one,
Has lived but for the weak who first raised him,
And if dying in violence and heat of Hell’s hate
Is action held worthy of memory and song,
Then hold still in closer the hope of each tide,
The flow of life and peace and war,
Each birth and death, every drop of rain,
Which over history cleans and renews
The ill or good fortune all nations shall choose.”

 

Our Plight in a Cardinal

Yesterday I was out early, near the edge of the woods. A small fluttering chirp arrested my attention, directing it from a tree and towards the ground. In a small, open-faced woodshed there was a bird – a cardinal, half-grown – thrashing at the walls, jumping against them, chirping and flailing uselessly. It was too young to fly but had left the nest under unknown circumstances.
I watched it for a minute, hoping that perhaps it would turn around and walk out of the opening which was as wide as the wall it was facing. An attempt was made to chase it out. It retreated valiantly into a corner, hiding against the wood.
So I caught it. . . after the fourth attempt. A shrill scream burst from the shiny black beak, little legs and claws kicked, wings fluttered; then it bit me. Unknown to this frightened creature, it was fighting the person who was freeing it, biting and clawing to be let go and be lost again in the dark and open prison.
Despite it’s feeble (though somewhat painful) protesting, I carried it to the bird feeder and – the plan was to let it go near a food source. It jumped down prematurely however, scuttled beneath the porch and that was the last I saw of it.

A bit of frustration followed. After the (small) effort and time taken to bring the cardinal out of its self-imposed cage to the open air and food, it had hidden itself in a darker place and likely got lost, unable to be brought out.

Now this all is what we do to God all the time, isn’t it? Our angels spend the time we are given in doing what they can to let us out from the giant prisons of vice which are, admittedly, easy to get in to but difficult to turn about in.
Once blinded, a person remains blind until Christ touches the eyes of the soul, if we let Him touch us. We must be captured, lifted, carried, shown the sun and sky, brought to food and safety. If one acts with Humility, to permit God to raise him, feed him, show him the light and the way, that person will survive to fledge and fly with plumage, coloured with the Blood of Christ.

And now, dear Reader, which of you has not struck and fought against your Saviour?
Which of us has not thought or felt, at one time or another – even briefly –  that the yoke of freedom is more heavy than the chain, that the sight of sun is more stabbing than darkness, that our crippled wings of reason could challenge Faith and our bodies the Hand of God?

Judgement of a Soul

“Now you stand before me, give me the account of your soul. In this book is written all by your angel; all things you ever said, thought, did; to others or alone; with good intent or false. Shall we open it?”

The soul hid his face and replied: “You have already seen, you already know. Have mercy on me, my Lord.”

“Not all who address me as ‘Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you know.
Look yourself and see what you have done with the Time appointed. Here . . . what is written?”

Slowly the soul raised his eyes to the pages as his angel opened the book, glistening with dark writing.
“So many things,” he said, “words of vices. Forgetting that One God alone Is, so many times I placed things of the fallen earth before you; Abuse of my tongue in blasphemous bouts of anger, calling on the powers of Heaven and Hell without regard, insulting Your Mother; Failing multiple times to attend the Mass or wandering in my mind when it is You I should have seen; Authorities countlessly scorned . . . “

Here the soul faltered and closed his eyes.
“I need not the pages to tell me. I know what I have done.”

“Then continue on.”

“Anger, unjust injury to other men, neglecting those who needed food, clothing, shelter. Once I looked on a woman with lust, not heeding my place or her soul. Oh, how could I have . . . Desiring what was unlawful and unjust. Lies and slander, deceitful speech and gossip. Being dissatisfied with the talents of others I knew, wanting them myself, looking at the property they owned and wanting it for my own.”

For what seemed like days to the soul, he stood with eyes closed and told of his misdeeds. When at last he could recall no more, “What then do you deserve?” asked the Judge softly.

“Hell.”

“And what do you desire?”

“Mercy.”

“Read the page again.”

The soul glanced up. The page was streaked with crimson, blotting out, washing away the black ink. Try as he might . . .

“Where has it gone? I can read nothing!”

As you can read, so do I remember,” the Messiah replied, “Justice convicts, Mercy forgets.”

“Oh, Sacred Mercy, Fountain of Compassion and Hope!” cried the angel, falling prostrate before throne, “Ask, O soul, and you shall truly receive!”

“Here now is a page blotted clean. Let us begin anew. In your shame you have forgotten all the good works of your life. Let me now relate them to you, and your angel will write them here – in gold.”
To God you gave honour and placed Me above all else; You praised My Name and offered much prayer to Heaven for the world; You have thousands of times stood near my Cross and joined yourself to My Sacrifice – Do you remember?
To your parents you gave assistance until their death and afterwards prayed for their souls, giving them much consolation; In humility, always did you strive to obey all men placed above you by My decree; You fed my hungry brethren, you gave them drink, clothed and sheltered them, buried those who walked on to Eternity, visited the sick, the lonely – You do remember this?
You gave consolation to the sorrowing, instructed those less of knowledge than you, brought sinners back to My fold, gave prudent words to they who were lost in doubt. You guarded Purity, cherished your wife and loved her beyond her death . . . Remember all.

For a year the soul knelt in front of the throne, hearing again and again the innumerable moments of grace in his past life, listening to the beautiful words, remembering, being drawn into happiness.
Do you remember? Take consolation. All of this, you did for me.”

Pages now shimmered with white gold, the crimson Blood bathed them with light.
The angel wrote a name on the last page – a name wholly unpronounceable in any mortal tongue. The soul read it and saw with wonder a reflection of himself within a greater Light.

“You are in Me, and I in thee. Come. Now you will be called Blessed. Enter, into the place which was prepared for you.