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?

To See Over the Mountains III

278 days. 76.2% of the year.
It’s been that long since I sat in the Denver airport, waiting for my flight which would leave 7 hours later, writing the first of these three posts.
I like counting time – always have – and was doing so before I even left that day. Have been counting ever since, despite not knowing when I would return. Maybe I think of Time too much. Impatience thrives on Time, as do other things.

It’s been a long time. I think the top of the mountain is visible now. What the beginning looked like is forgotten in part, and there are more climbs to make after this – that’s not to be discouraging though. We are in eternity already, called to travel ever onward and upward, further up and in until we hit that Furthest Light.

To See Over the Mountains II

Oh but it’s been a time so long,
Since I was carried – flown –
With nothing ahead but a mountain, a cloud
If we could have only known
Of the trials and reasons, the Love
That stole a thickening shroud,
To steep every soul in a song.

But if we had known it then,
Where would the surrender be?
In what would a sacrifice stand, or Hope
With what Trust could any soul see,
If obedience were chasing desire
And want of the better known end,
All lacking in blindness of men?

‘Tis three sets of seven days now,
If God’s Will it truly be,
Creation and Trinity –
The mountains will rise again
With a prayer of an ancient nation –
Through a mighty strength
Of the Creator of Creation.

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?

A Memory with You

In the darkening hours, with whispering wind,
All feathered flight alighting in trees,
Singing to the stars an evening song,
Watching the sun stretch shadows long,
And forested mountains black in the shade,
Shadowy clouds and evening breeze,
Looking down on the lights all man-made,
Awaiting the starlight and moon-shafts to fade,
Under clouds for a moment, and burst forth again,
Revealing the names of a thousand dead men,
And softly sitting, whispering there,
In the peacefulness of Somnolent Prayer

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.

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.

You Shall Yet Find Me

Perhaps we’ll find a Time somewhere,
In a crag of memory made,
Singing along with the crickets there,
‘Neath a ceiling of sunlit shade.

Or then that Time may give a share,
Of a darkened raining glade,
And to wander a path will be ours ‘ere
The sweet new Dawn is made.

We wait for the Time to find us then –
I’ll be there just the same,
Wherever a Hope finds a path to run,
You’ll find me there – Somewhere.

. . . forever past fleeing snow,
In the shade of a tall tree’s glow.