Christmas Poem …

Says a country legend told every year:
Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see
what the creatures do as that long night tips over.
Down on their knees they will go, the fire
of an old memory whistling through their minds!

So I went. Wrapped to my eyes against the cold
I creaked back the barn door and peered in.
From town the church bells spilled their midnight music,
and the beasts listened – yet they lay in their stalls like stone.

Oh the heretics!
Not to remember Bethlehem,
or the star as bright as a sun,
or the child born on a bed of straw!
To know only of the dissolving Now!

Still they drowsed on –
citizens of the pure, the physical world,
they loomed in the dark: powerful
of body, peaceful of mind, innocent of history.

Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!
And you are no heretics, but a miracle,
immaculate still as when you thundered forth
on the morning of creation!
As for Bethlehem, that blazing star

still sailed the dark, but only looked for me.
Caught in its light, listening again to its story,
I curled against some sleepy beast, who nuzzled
my hair as though I were a child, and warmed me
the best it could all night.

— Mary Oliver from Twelve Moons

God’s Design …

Walk in faith, believe in God
Carry no haversack, no sandals

Journey into the tabernacle of the night
With no less sureness than if it were day

Look to the truth
Not as a rushlight

But as a flaming torch
By which to walk God’s way

And treasure those moments –
Few though they are-

That contain enough
For us to know

In temporariness
In fleeting little glimpses
At least

That what lies ahead, beyond,
Is in essence more real
Than could ever be imagined

And holds itself convincingly
As light
As sign

That all –
All is God’s design.

—Posted by Veritas – Poetry, Prayer, and Praise  on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Keeping Quiet …

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about…

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

— Pablo Neruda from Extravagaria

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower …

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

Believe in What You Do Not See …

The child whispered, ‘God, speak to me’
And a meadow lark sang.
The child did not hear.
So the child yelled, ‘God, speak to me!’
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.
The child looked around and said,
‘God let me see you’ and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice.
And the child shouted,
‘God show me a miracle!’
And a life was born but the child did not know.
So the child cried out in despair,
‘Touch me God, and let me know you are here!’
Whereupon God reached down
And touched the child.
But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly.
— A Lebanese Poem about God

The Guest House …

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Rumi from The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition