Distance of Dreams

Alone was the evening; awaking the breeze,
Away went the wind, casting off to the seas
Worn red dust of the hidden road running,
First earthbound now flying, and mocking the clouds.
Clouds of once-white gleaming all a’gold-red,
Afire from dragon, or lash of the sun,
Welding sky to ground, star-place and Ocean,
Most brilliant blue and gold, setting in motion
Some minutes of stillness; a love’s silent wonder.

In harmony with strains of the mountains’ deep heartsong,
When a girl let her heartbeats, her breaths, her longing,
Be caught with the waiting winds, off where they will,
The stars heard them rise and woke from dreams thronging,
Flickered and pulsed, keeping time of their fires,
With that of her soul; To fly glist’ning o’er wind 
Feeling cool clouds ‘neath moonlight she would,
To the stars and dreams if anyone could.

Winter’s Anticipation *

Light-haired and soft, the Sky shakes out her locks, 
Sends starlings scattering in wheeling flocks,
Arising from restless night, the land
Moves rippling, unfeeling, beneath her soft hand.

Just a-flick’ring and flashing all silver serene,
Shining and shimmering mercurial sheen,
The world lies glimmering in beauty – but dead,
Still mourning, the Sky in clouds veils her head.

She longs for her lover to wake and be free,
So long has he lain ‘neath this grimly wrought sea,
Ah, patience must bear the discontented hours,
‘Ere the grasses appear and the land flourishing, flowers.

All lovers apart might long for the spring,
While seeing in the Other some cold deadly thing,
Desiring to thaw the cold, glittering skin,
Rooting out the clouds casting shadows of Sin.

Still despite a lonely night, unrested,
A little thought of Spring is tested,
And the sun brightly shining can not bear to leave,
Lest alone the other should chance to grieve,

The light is of hope, though not perfect life,
Alone we now see it, winter’s little knife,
Will melt in the presence of the oncoming Sky;
The sun giving heat, ice shall willingly die.

*This can not be said to be solely my own work; my lady lent me the most important portion of the poem before I began – both word and thought.

Be Our Fire

Frosty gale, come up, come up,
Climb up and o’er the mount.
Flying, singing, Icily flinging,
The snowflakes like stars beyond count.

Wailing winds, come down, down,
From scorched hilltops high.
Fan the dust from our souls,
Revive the white coals,
‘Till they blaze and burn with a sigh.

Oh God, our God, draw near to us,
We would love through you alone.
Be the Sweetness between us,
The Fire in our hearts,
And Desire to be brought Home.

“Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.
~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Spera in Deo

“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

Twas another dark night, the candle had blown out, another soul had lost sight of the Crucifix. A room of stone, clean but empty, had fallen with the sun into a darkness, and though there had been for a while a small light, the darkness had overcome it. From the Emptiness like a heartbeat echoed the voice of the Timeless Love:

“Have I though, child? You fastened me here with your iron; I will not to leave without you driving me away as you drove these spikes out of your sight and into my limbs, and then I would wait just beyond your sight until you called for me. Love always waits, you know.
When you placed me on this torment, such violence did you use that the angels themselves did not know if you wanted to kill or detain me.
If I have remained, Beloved, can I then also abandon you alone?”

“My Lord, have I then forsaken Thee?”

The cold wind wailed and beat about the room; on the candle in the center showed a dull red spark, just visible, smouldering and kept alive by the very wind that had extinguished it. From the Nowhere which contains Everything came another voice, just as loving as the first but deeper, and somehow more ancient in Eternity:

“Beloved Son, listen to me. If you had cast me aside with all Hope, would you hear me? You seek as a blind man does now. If you would not ignore the warnings of the setting sun and refuse to bar the door against the darkness, your flame would not have gone out. But you are not so hardened with the cold that the Death will take you; Rise, close the door. I am here and none other shall enter unless you permit your heart to become too cold to sustain Love. If you truly had faith, you would see. But the little you do have is enough for now – you can still feel. Quickly now! Without Faith, Hope can not abide in you.”

The soul hesitated, a tear sliding icily down his face, and then slowly groped about. He finally found the floor, then a wall – how cold it was, and covered with ice – and at last it caught the door, pushed it closed, and waited in the dark, shivering. Listening desperately for the Voice again, he heard only his own heart. No sound could he hear, no guiding Voice – But he knew where his table was. That very faint red spot in the air marked the candle on it, and the matches should be next to it, if he recalled correctly.
He slowly crept forward, right hand in front of him, and after several long seconds he found the table. Another moment of clumsy groping found him the matches, and the smouldering wick was still there.
All that he had to do was to strike a light – but he was afraid. Frightened of the rocks that formed his walls, the emptiness of the room; so apprehensive of seeing again the Crucifix –
But he feared more the darkness, and the pain of sight is better than the loneliness of the Night. He knew how long the night would last if he did not end it soon.

A small scratching, then a little light flared up, one flame ignited a second. A warmth which the soul had not felt since the sun fell off the Mountain days ago filled the room, and his heartbeat once again kept time with the world.

“My Saviour, my Hope, why hast Thou not forsaken me?”

A third Voice rang out, holding in it the notes of an Ancient Wisdom, like the liquid whiteness of a full moon:

“Does a Lover abandon his Beloved? Though a man ask for Hell, Mercy remains to him. The drawing forth and cleansing of sinners is the delight of Mercy, not their condemnation. You know this, and yet you question as though you had not the worth of a sparrow. You have seen the Sign, why should the Begotten from Whom I proceed permit you to hold him as you do, if not to show you the way of Love?

The soul was tired, and wanted to sleep – he could now, the Darkness was gone. Before he could though, he wanted to know: “Do I speak to Three or One?”

From the corner where the Crucifix hung, a Whisper of Eternity brushed and swirled for a moment. It was as though all three Voices were combined, and as the soul lay down to rest in the little light of his heart with God:

What does your Faith tell you?” came the Loving Reply.

Eyes of the Rose

We’ve looked before in the darkness,
And daylight – they were the same;
In prayer or conversation,
Or silence – watching the rain,
The sunshine, clouds of evening,
A soul beside me dwelt,
In cold and snow, tiredness, pain,
In all moments I felt,
The glance of a thorn, and breath of a Rose.

I looked and loved what lived beyond,
Within, inseparably from the soft
And blooming beauty of Divinity’s shadow,
A soul far closer in her nature to angels
Than that of my own. A jewel, a treasure,
Sanctuary and tabernacle of God and new life,
Of others immortal, eternally being.

The surface is fair, both lovely, mysterious
Beneath lies the true Beauty, revealed with care;
Through the eyes of the Rose with peaceful love,
I saw there imprinted the Image of God.

The Why

Christmas relentlessly approaches; no faster than the clock permits, though we all know that the perceived speed of the clock varies relative to our activities. Thus for me it seems to be coming up too quickly with too little preparation.

The most significant ‘preparedness’ one ought to have is that of the soul – being ready to receive the Christ into ones heart, full of nothing for Him there but love. What pull us away from that sometimes are the external things: Decorating, writing cards, running through lists of names and hoping that we didn’t forget to acquire gifts for any of them.

Some of us worry not about preparing for Christ and others, so much as wishing to slow down the clock and speed up our actions so as to do the Everything we desire to complete. There can be a temptation to boil everything down to the ‘what I want to do’, and although externally we could seem to be accomplishing things for others, it turns to having the focus on ourselves.

It is good to ask ‘Why’. Why am I doing this? Why do I want to do this? Because not only the actions themselves but also the intentions are required for a thing to be spiritually meritorious or sinful, we should know ‘Why’.

Why do we want to perfect ourselves and give that a particular focus during Advent? For the sake of reaching a personal goal, or because it is a good thing which has eternal merit? Because it is pleasing to God?
Why do we prepare for Christmas with all these physical things – decorations, gifts, etc?

To our society in general Christmas is nothing more than a party and marketing racket which begins in mid-September and by the time it concludes with the New Year, everyone is sick of it. For Christians, it is a celebration of the Birth of the Redeemer which begins the day the worldly party ends.
Are we trying to do so many things because it is custom, or because we want to celebrate our Saviour’s entry into the world with these things as well as having a soul and heart prepared?

We should take the words of Bishop Sheen to heart:
“How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You can not find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely let Christ be formed in you.

To See Over the Mountains

“In every friendship hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.”

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

It is always painful in some measure to leave a person you love. I’ve been repeatedly reminded of this fact today, and in reflecting on the words of this holy man, was reminded of something that I was told by an instructor in August 2018 while out in the mountains.

“Think of how Mary felt on Calvary, how much she was hurt. She knows more than anyone what pain separation from a loved one can be.”

There are times when it is impossible to understand why God directs or permits circumstances – at least in the more immediate sense. His Will is nothing but the good of each individual, the ultimate end for which He designed us. A temporary distancing and hurt can, if we so permit, be to guide us away from a permanent hell and closer to the resurrection.
He never takes away something permanently, we just have to be patient and trust Him.

. . . Usually easier to say than to act upon, isn’t it?

One can’t see what is beyond the mountain without first climbing it (or going around, but that’s a much longer journey). In some cases, one can literally see over the mountains while taking the first step upwards.
That’s what I saw over the mountains.

Extinguished Stars – a Smoky Sky

‘There are no vocations, temporary or permanent, that do not come with the caveat that you will have to give up yourself for the sake of something or someone else, and that includes being a student. When we seek to do God’s will, He directs us on a road that is sacrificial, yes, “Take up your cross and follow Me”, but also peaceful –  “Take My yoke upon your shoulders…for my burden is light” .
But the big picture needs to be present in our souls in order to maintain peace of soul in a given moment, and we must remember that peace is a gift from God, not something we acquire for ourselves. There will always be things thrown at us designed to take away our peace of soul.’

So wrote the most influential man in my life to me this morning.

I find grimly humourous that one can write/speak such words to me, and often my thoughts are along the lines of ‘yes, I know…heard it all before’ – but do I KNOW this all? (In theory, yes)

Short post? Yes. 85% the words of another man? Yes. But methinks that the weight of the quoted words are worth contemplating for a bit, and also I should fulfill what I said I’d try to do in the way of taking part in an activity common to most of the human race, namely sleeping. (try)

Holy Saturday: The Wait

What does a tomb sound like, in the peaceful deadly evening,
While a burial ends quickly before the close of day?
It sounds like heavy footsteps fading away,
Mingled with sobbing of a childless mother.
The tears being sucked dry by the thirsty ground,
And echos of the same through rock rebound.
It sounds like the flutters of a final heartbeat,
A centurion’s armour as he leans on a lance,
Spirits writhing and the thoughts of angels waiting,
And the clouds and stars in a deathly dance.

What does a tomb smell like, as the light fades to dusk,
And stars glow brighter in spite of the sorrow?
Like blood – so much blood – and ancient rites,
Of new-turned soil and hard-bought sweat,
Of heated metal, death and thunder,
Battles and slaughter, loot and plunder,
Hard-won victory in spiritual fights,
The bone and the blood together abiding,
Pulled back to the soil, under darkness hiding,
And tremours of hope and new unknown life.

What does a tomb taste like, with the full moon rising,
When the sun has vanished and the soldiers are sleeping?
Like the smoke from Hell’s contract enkindled by Love,
And the soft breath of wind rising, pulling and creeping,
It tastes like the fear of the body, soul leaving,
The tear-drops of each of the countless dead grieving.

What does a tomb feel like, in the cold and voiceless night?
Like anticipation, and pulse quickening,
Soldiers sleeping, blood thickening.
Mossy rocks and frozen bone,
Of unhurried flight where thorns ingrown,
There trap the dew and freeze in frost,
The crown there, black with gore and fright.

What does a tomb look like, in the hushed silence,
Moments before another day?
A place of holy dread and dwelling,
Mound of ennobled dust and rocks,
With deep red stains embalming chains,
Where Life and death have come together,
Awaiting tomorrow to be sundered again,
And like the stable, the door for new Hope
From whence Love is to rise forever.

What is Time, to Eternity?

“O life so dull and monotonous, how many treasures you contain! When I look at everything with the eyes of faith, no two hours are alike, and the dullness and monotony disappear. The grace which is given me in this hour will not be repeated in the next. It may be given me again, but it will not be the same grace. Time goes on, never to return again. Whatever is enclosed in it will never change; it seals with a seal for eternity” (Diary, 62).

Oh life, of such little time composed, yet how great a privilege that we be given one. No hour is like another, indeed no second. If only men would view with Faith every moment of their lives, what a world of beauty would be here! So live in the present time! We should live each second with habitual Love, and in looking back in the Judgment of your soul we will see a lifetime spent well, through the Mercy of the Sacred Heart.

Find the opportunity of a lifetime not monotonous, nor consider it dull. Life should be a taste of eternity.

What is a splinter of time?