Monday, March 7, 2016

That old, beautiful road

Yes, it’s still that old road,
that old, beautiful road.

The bloom of spiritual youth,
when joy came readily
and spontaneously,
like the rain-downed blossoms
on my now bare magnolia tree,
only a memory to be trodden underfoot,
taunting now with temptation to failed faith,
is like a mirage
sighted only by looking back,
and a mirage at that,
for the world of the past,
as Christ Himself promises,
is gone,
and only the present moment,
dry as a potsherd,
is real.

Yes, promises,
for Christ does not grant us
what we think we need at the wrong time,
but waits more patiently than the universe
for the son of God in us
to be revealed,
as He walks with us,
yes, with each and every one of us,
prying open the ears of our hearts with His parables,
as He, resurrected, accompanies us
down that old road,
that old, beautiful road
first planted with His teachings
and paved with His tears.

Yes, beautiful,
and very, very old, that road
which leads from the disobediently disappled tree,
past the preventing angels,
passing through ambushes
of envious and vengeful devils whose lies
stretched taut and almost invisible
would trip us,
which proves itself the path of no turning back
and impels us forward
into whose galloping arms,
nailed as branches,
we realize only as we gasp our last,
is what He promised.

Yes, it’s still that old road,
that old, beautiful road.

Days and nights,
joys and sorrows,
exaltation and near despair,
casting their lights and shadows across that road,
they do not help or hinder,
do not speed or slow our progress
as we walk in tandem with our invisible Lord,
made visible in our pressing on,
in our tearful, even anguished endurance,
as we
saddled with silence
pursue His words promising us life.

‘Will you also abandon me?’
it seems we ask Him, though it is He who asks,
and coming to ourselves
after a night of sleepless struggle,
we rejoin Him
on that old road,
that old, beautiful road,
and relieve ourselves of all doubt
as we tell Him,
‘To whom would I go,
since You alone have the words of eternal life,’


And that is enough,
it has to be enough,
for that is all truth, all beauty, and saves all the world.

Yes, beloved brethren,
it’s still that old, beautiful road.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Making us His

Transfiguration, by Edward Knippers
                            Sharers of the Divine Nature
                            held out to us as promise
                            to be fulfilled
                            while He who takes our nature
                            old and troubled as it is
                            undoes our fears
                            with love
                            and transfigures those who dare
                            to follow His gracious call
                            like Moses and Elijah
                            one raptured from the grave
                            the other rendezvous’d
                            to sit with Him
                            upon His Father’s Throne
                            annihilating time
                            with the lightning flash
                            of His eternity

                            This is no God of heavens only

                            encircled by prostrating priests
                            hymned by eyeful animals
                            Himself appearing
                            in guise of manlike shape
                            but Man Himself
                            the God of heavens
                            and earths without number
                            appearing as a new-born
                            first-born Son
                            under the same skies
                            upon the same land
                            as One of us
                            not in appearance only
                            not in mere similitude
                            sharing our flesh and blood
                            that we share His

                            Masses and liturgies

                            rise up to persuade us
                            prayers and rosaries
                            recited to claim us
                            yet He opens the Temple
                            to show us within
                            enlarging its courts
                            encompassing the whole world
                            enduring all moments and all times
                            and holy days of obligation disappear
                            into the sublime shadow of the Almighty
                            as He walks with us
                            holding hands
                            and talks with us
                            face to face
                            and embraces us
                            making us His

Monday, September 8, 2014

In our eyes


The world is a macrocosm of the man,
and the man, a microcosm of the world.
What is true of one is true of the other.
Our lives are formed in the main
by the flow of missed opportunities,
our action/reaction selves
skewed by our mistakes,
as all the while we fume and foment
never noticing success is not happiness,
nor seeing salvation and joy lie before us
in plain sight.

So the world, forced by willful ignorance
to drag untold tonnage of hapless memories,
called ‘history’,
and distracted by its lust to hoard even more,
joins the chase for hides of outward glory
assisted by hell’s hounds,
and misses every worthy event and personage
ever to cross its threshold
or pitch a tent in its domain.
Seeking what cannot be found,
the world, and the man,
both forfeit what is theirs.

Today the Church sings
the birth of an unknown Jewish girl.
Unknown, even unnamed by the world of her time,
never recognized as anyone,
she passed her life in obscurity,
except when she was exposed
in the circle of her family and clan
as a possible adulteress,
a pregnant maiden betrothed to an old man,
with nothing to defend herself and her honor
but the words of an angel,
that she alone saw.

Yet, while the world was looking the other way,
making much of the latest royal scandals
and divine pronouncements of distant emperors,
this virgin went about growing up,
serving her aged parents,
later only her widowed mother,
until she came of marriageable age,
and a different type of history,
hidden from the world but hallowed before the ages,
began to unfold in the closet of her heart.

Without ever knowing it,
of an obscure people that the only God had chosen
for her humanity as well as His,
she became the last and most faithful among them,
without learning
having surpassed by her silent surrender
to the Divine philanthropy
all their most sacrosanct notables,
as well as their prophets, priests and kings.
Hidden from her by her humility,
from the world by its pomp,
she was crowned Queen.

The last true Hebrew,
and the first hearer of the Good News,
she beckons both to her ancestral people,
the children of Israel,
and to the race of those begotten of her
by the Spirit of her Divine Son, the Christians,
inviting them and us
to the feast prepared before all worlds,
to that banquet for which she was born,
and for which we too, through her, are both born
and made welcome, all first-borns.

The world has missed her birth, her life,
her falling asleep, her leave-taking,
just as it missed the man-coming of her Divine Son,
His crowning with thorns,
His enthronement on the Cross,
His hell-harrowing rest,
His abundant rising from the tomb,
and His man-taking into the Divine Nature.

But we need not follow in its wake.
Our Lady Theotokos, Mary of Nazareth,
the unwedded Bride,
is in our eyes.
xx

Sunday, August 3, 2014

When love becomes man

Love is beyond caste, class, and creed.
Whoever or whatever one thinks God is,
or if one believes in no god at all,
if he should do what he sees Jesus doing,
then God has in fact
come down to earth once again.

Hindus have Rama,
they have Krishna,
yes, God come down to earth in ancient times,
as king, as savior.

Christians have our Jesus,
yes, and if we listen carefully to Him,
He tells us to do what we see Him doing.
That is, in our faith,
how we believe Christ comes to us
and lives among us again,
when love becomes man,
then man becomes love.

Just as Krishna fed the whole world
from a single grain of rice,
and Jesus fed five thousand,
not once but twice,
from a basket containing only a few pita breads
and some fish,
so the Divine Nature shows Himself to us
in people who lovingly feed
and serve others.

Love, love, love,
yes, that is the meaning of life.
Now, when shall we begin?
xx

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Distant, purple mountains

The Lord is merciful, brother,
and He loves us more than we love ourselves,
and He fears more for our safety and salvation than we do,
and He is only trying very hard
to not let us slip out of His tender hands,
which hold us loosely enough for us to experience freedom
and taste danger,
yet tightly enough to keep us from falling,
unless we really want to.

Praise be to Jesus Christ,
who does not listen to those who accuse His lovers,
even when it is the lovers themselves
who, by fear or doubt, accuse.
For He comes not to judge the world,
but to give His life for it, for us,
for you, brother, and for me.
And the narrow way to which He leads us
will always lie ahead on our path,
not at our choosing,
not when we want it,
but when we expect it least,
are unable in fact to see it for what it is
until we have, carried in His arms,
passed through it.

The way I take today seems so wide
I can see the walls of the chasm
only as distant purple mountains
on the horizons north and south,
but I know that the wide river of my life
was a trickle at its source
and, near its end, passing through those gates of fire,
will again be a trickle,
but to the sea it flows,
into that calm though restless sea of the Lord of all,
who shall take me by the hand, look at me,
and say 'beloved'
as together we walk on that endless shore.
And you, dear brother, with Him, with me, are one.
x

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Running

Bearing both mixed and shifting metaphors,
let us outrun those devils
pretending to be Marathon champions.

He who paces us has also cut the cords
that bound us to false followers, to tempters,
half-created archon remnants of a lost, unfinished universe
who lurk to frighten children
and hope to halt heart beats by hollow threats.

We run, we think, from destruction and danger,
but it is not so.

We run because that is our nature.
We run because we are both image and likeness
of One whose name is ‘He that runs.’

We run because we know He wants us.
He wants us to catch up to Him.
Yes, even to catch Him.

He paces us.
Always only a step or two ahead, He is not far.

He stays close, but He doesn’t relent, or slow, or stop.
Running is His nature,
and running is why He made us.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Walking in wisdom

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-20

This poem is dedicated to ‘Aunt Melanie.’

Walking in wisdom,
it is the intention of the heart
that seeks to confess Christ before men,
without crucifying Him anew.

Impossible without grace,

impossible without immersion in the Word of God,
not as a study for knowledge,
but as a baptism into His death.

Quietness, pause, selah, hesychia, stillness, peace,

the way into the Father’s throne room,
as we venture in,
following the word of Jesus,

taking nothing with us,

unclothed except for the Lamb without spot,
Whose precious righteousness covers our sinful nature,
hiding it even from our own eyes,

alone,

alone except for Him walking inside and outside,
above and below,
to right, to left of us,
before, and after,
enclosing us in His love,
our rock and our shield.

Glory to You, O God, glory to You!


Bless this sister’s sharing of her vision of Your throne,

and enlighten our eyes,
undeceive us,
Father,
for by Your Light we see Light,
and we become what we see.

Glory!

Glory to You, O God!
xx

Beautiful


                              Beautiful, quiet tears
                              have been shared
                              between lovers,
                              one alone in his room,
                              the other in a garden,
                              missing in time's flow
                              their embrace
                              before the world ever was.

                              The past certain,
                              the future the same,
                              they shall be forever
                              quietly happy together,
                              but presently
                              in time flows
                              the loneliness
                              of tears.

                              The pain inside
                              turns quickly to joy,
                              not mere pleasure
                              which is too weak to share

                              When I think of you
                              flying over seas
                              and mountains
                              as I sit in my chair.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Amen

Source
This is the kind of world we live in:

When a man sets out to accomplish a great good,
All the forces that oppose goodness rally against him,
And in the end his efforts fail to bring about
The good he intended.
At times what is accomplished is actually evil,
The exact opposite of his intent,
And he is blamed by all.

He is not to be distinguished
From the man who determines to do evil; who,
When he sets out to perform his work perfidiously,
Is aided by every fierce, merciless force
That seeks to destroy the souls of men.

This is the kind of God we believe in:

When a man sets out to serve and please Him,
All the powers of earth and the underworld
That clamor against him, wound him,
Slander and betray him,
Conquer him, and even kill him,
Cannot harm him, cannot defraud him,
Cannot define him, cannot destroy him,
Because they cannot even see him;
He is hidden in God with Christ.

He is not to be distinguished
From the man who determines to deceive Him; who,
When he determines with all his might to defy God,
Disdain Him, desert and delay Him.
Even to defeat Him,
He is still pursued in his personal Hades,
Not by shafts of lightning, fiery hail,
Searing embers, dark clouds of smoke,
Or deafening trumpet blasts,
Not even by angels, those bodyless powers,
But by the Christ of God
Who descends to rescue him once and for all,
If he allow it,
From the outer darkness.

What of that dreadful Day,
The Day of mercy ending,
The Day of dread descending,
The Day of wrath,
The Son of Man sitting to split sheep from goat,
His angel hands harvesting the final field,
At last tirelessly tearing weed from wheat,
Irresistibly raking one into the grainery,
The other with chaff casting into the fire.
Shall this not be?

Amen,
He comes in glory to judge the quick and the dead,
Who is always with us who follow Him,
Whom only we may always see,
‘Lord, will You show Yourself only to us,
Or to the whole world?’

Amen,
He shall show Himself to all,
Amen,
To the world.
Amen,
Every eyes shall see Him then.
Amen,
The deeds of all shall be revealed.
Amen,
For us who believe, that Day is still bright,
By His mercy.
Amen,
Outside of that is forever night.
x

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Transfigured into Him

You are there,
and Christ is there,
and soon we all will have arrived at this place
where we know for sure,
the tombs have been opened
and are emptied of their dead.

The darkness
and cold chill of that hour
before the sun rises
was worth enduring,
because out of the sea of darkness
the sun rises
as faithfully and predictably as we have been told.

This is no accident,
that sun rises,
and Son resurrects,
both utterly and predictably certain.

The prophets did not lie,
the saints do not fib,
our own pains and sorrows,
even our very bodies of sin and death,
were really only seeds
whose purpose was to be buried, planted
so they could sprout and grow into the light,
producing at last ears in plenty,
sixty- or a hundred-fold.

Everything the religious believe is true,
and all they or we ever need do
is to admit our brokenness,
turn ourselves in to the Healer,
and be still.

His therapy takes time,
but that is what time is for.

Biological life was made for death,
but death for resurrection.

Matter was only the embryo of spirit,
and spirit only the Spirit scaled down to meet us.

Our blindness was a blessing that resulted in sight,
and sight itself only the vehicle of our transformation:
to see Him is to be transfigured into Him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Falling pulpits

The day is full of deceptions.
Night enters,
cloaked in clerical brightness,
to do deeds in broad daylight
that shame the righteous,
corrupt the pious,
kill faith and trust.
Confusion reigns.

Yes, but signs,
there are signs given,
that robbers are abroad,
thus some, distinguishing the Voice
from the voices, flee.

Falling pulpits—
let those who have ears hear!
and demons flying through shattered glass—
let the reader understand!
and lampstands removed from the Holy Place—
let those who have eyes see!
symptoms of great sickness,
panoplies of pride
corroding piety by dissimulation,
all speak warning—
let the buyer beware!

The fires are hot
but blaze not in hell only,
they burn those who hate,
enlighten those who love,
God’s kingdom
and His righteousness.

Father, deliver us from this calamity,
save us from these precipitous slopes,
that we may serve Thee
in singleness of heart,
purged of all pretense 
and in spirit and truth
worship Thee, and live.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yes and no

Yes,
though we may loathe to admit it,
there is a real insiders versus outsiders status
in terms of Christianity.
 
Not everyone,
even very nice, or very smart people,
or celebrities that we like,
is a Christian,
not even some very famous people
who claim to be, or claim to have been,
Christians.
 
No,
just as Jesus had an inner circle,
His disciples,
apart from the outer circle of everyone else,
ranging from those who hung on His words
but were not prepared to follow,
all the way to those
who simply liked to be seen in His company,
there are insiders and outsiders in Christianity.
 
The insiders know what the truth is
when they read the Bible,
know how to distinguish the authentic
from the nonsensical in the tradition,
and do not argue.
 
The outsiders live by, in and for
controversy, appearances and prestige.
 
They gobble up or serve up ludicrous lies as food.
 
No,
Jesus wasn't married to Mary Magdalene,
but yes,
He has a bride,
as the Bible itself teaches.
 
No,
they never found His body,
but yes,
He has a body,
and in that body He walks the earth
from the day He disappeared
in full view of His insiders.
 
All myths and outsiders' gossip fall flat at His feet.
 
Papyrus fragments old
or hot-off-the-presses new
will never tell the insiders anything about the Lord
that they don't already know.
 
Bits of cloth or bone,
or incised stones,
even splinters of True Cross wood,
cannot add to what insiders believe or who they know,
but outsiders clamor for more.
 
Yes,
everything we needed to know
to start our following of the Lord
was contained in His call,
and following Him
we never needed any proofs of this or that,
nor had time to debate or even discuss
the latest evidence pro or con.
 
Inside or outside,
where we stand,
is shown by our walk,
not our talk.
 

Friday, August 24, 2012

It is I

‘Death is a sickness like any other,’
it has been written,
but so is sickness a death,
and so is death an invasion of privacy
and illusion-shatterer like no other.

We live our lives peacefully and prosperously
in the short spells of quiet
that are evacuated between cataclysms,
we live as individuals, as societies,
even as worlds.

Clenched between the jaws of inflexible fate,
without daring to delve the depths of the illusion
that has captured us and freed us
in the vise of time,
we wait purposely ignoring the end of all.

Like the sudden darkness and violence of a storm
that makes our road impassable and causes us to halt,
either for an hour or forever,
without our foreknowledge or permission,
an unwelcome diagnosis of terminal illness,
or the death of a child,
puts an end to what we were
and pushes us into what we must be.

Nothing remains the same, if anything remains of us at all.

By whose mercy or caprice,
or whether by mindless, existence-taunting chaos,
these brief moments of order and reason,
that tempt us to hope,
open to receive us and feed our illusions,
we dare not ask.

Swept along with the whole universe,
if there be such a place,
we cannot keep anything material
but wisdom that adheres to the soul,
that the soul itself, our souls, are nonetheless real,
though everything around us,
our implacable enemy,
denies what we know to be,
crushed by what is not.

We do not choose, we realize,
and in fact there is no choice.

We march because that is what we are,
seen between two unseens,
without destiny or destination,
proof only to ourselves that we exist at all,
movements excruciated from primordial clay.

Neither yesterday nor tomorrow hold meaning,
so we grasp today to convince ourselves
that if we can have nothing else,
at least we can have that.


God appears,
uninvited if not unexpected.

The religious delightfully moan in welcome,
the illiterate cover themselves with rocks,
neither make sense of this
or can really distinguish epiphany from mindless fate.

Inexorable,
impossible of deflection
like the high walls of the narrowing chasm
inside which we will disappear
as we have seen others disappear,
we hope we can charm him or her or them or it
by clever constructions.

Instead, though we fear to admit it,
we fail to follow the only avenue
that would focus our attention on the opening,
as we crumple in self-defeat
and congratulate ourselves on having avoided the end
one more time.

Meanwhile, the Light shines,
we do not know from where,
and so we shut our eyes,
and fight on.

This is why we are made,
we think that we think,
but know that these are just the turnings of immense wheels,
and once again swoon
to be mashed between their teeth.


In the night, awake,
always awake in the night while others sleep,
obsessed with the science of unknowing,
in the darkness discerning light,
out of wandering being delivered to the mark
as an arrow takes flight,
the archer aiming not at the bird perched on the high branch,
seeing not even its head,
only its neck,
does he pass his test.

Always, everywhere,
overcome by the terror of the task,
thinking it is kill or be killed,
we are charioted forward to engage,
what is
against what is not,
and we emerge,
as we have been forewarned,
almost alone.

It seems no one has survived,
the world is full of ghosts,
but flesh and blood,
decapitated, mangled forms fill the field of vision
where great deeds were done.

This was no mere clashing of worlds.
We find no one with whom to share the victory.
We return to forgetting all, because all is pain.

Then He comes to take us by the hand,
and we walk upon the ageless sea.

‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’
x

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We know the Way

Yes, we know the Way,
we know they also know, but they,
like idiot children
who know not their right hands from their left,
who let run to waste
the precious oil of the vials they have broken,
to no profit or even pleasure,
who let fertile fields remain fallow
while plowing and seeding sterile salty sand,
only play
unknowing though they know,
as sleepers dream,
unwanting ever
to awake, and never choose,
as if they want to lose, not win
the game that they imagine,
yet the Way lies open
through the narrow spear slash,
oozing fragrant myrrh.

They are not deaf.

They heard Him cry out words,
Forgive them, for they know.

Not what they do,
but what they do not do,
draws to them and us His mercy, His love.

Yes, we know the Way,
it is mercy, it is love,
yes, love, love, and more love.

For them, and for us,
it is only love that heals.
Yes, we know the way.
— Romanós

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The inevitable step

The ascension of the Christ.
Yes, this is the inevitable step in the progression of mankind
into the new reality of the sons of God.

The first new Man has appeared.
He walked the earth in full humanity
cloaking His full Divinity for a mere thirty-three years.

Then, delivering Himself up, to both sorrow and certainty,
He let Himself be taken for a common criminal,
though not at all common,
for kings and prefects do not bother themselves
with the crimes of common men,
nor do noble ladies dream dreams about them.

What no one has ever seen before occurred.
No one could visualize it then or even now.
It is surely incomprehensible,
because we have no eyes for it, not yet.

Still, what men fear most happened in time,
and happens now and ever,
every day till the end of time,
inevitable death has been rolled away from a tomb
then, now, and forever void of the dead.

No, it is not death that men fear most, but life,
unending, beginningless life,
that which they were made for,
but which they cannot bring themselves to accept.

What is worse than being sentenced to death?
To be sentenced for life,
to be condemned to live forever,
beginningless, endless, without respite,
before the face of Him who creates,
loves and preserves all beings.

This is the eternal fire that enlightens those who love Him
and burns those who hate Him.

Hate Him?
How can they hate the only-lover of mankind?

God is mercy to those who run to Him,
and judgment to those who run away.

Yes, the inevitable step.
Pierced feet fly upwards.
We follow them with our eyes, ignoring angels who tell us,
He returns in exactly the same manner that He departs.

Yes, the inevitable step.
He has taken it.
Now it is our turn, as it has always been.
Die in order to live.
Rise in order to receive what cannot be taken away.
Ascend in order to be present everywhere, to fill the earth.

‘Greater works than these are to be done by you,’ He says,
‘because I am going to the Father.’
He has taken the inevitable step, calling us to follow.

‘Why do you stand there gazing into the sky?’
Do not follow His feet only with your eyes.
Run after Him.
He comes again, in clouds, as we follow Him.
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…’

He has taken the inevitable step.
There is no going back, for Him or for us.
Yes, the inevitable step.
x

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Encaustic sacrifices

Talking about the tools,
but not teaching how to use them.
Showing the treasures,
but not knowing how to spend them.

This is the road of religious orthodoxy,
that makes orderlies
more important than the doctor,
that postpones surgeries
except those merely cosmetic,
that abandons therapy
as unsuited to our mortality.

Stories, stories, and more stories.
Entertainment, naturally religious
drama, replaces true miracle,
while what passes for miraculous
is confined to what drips
from painted planks and holy bones.

Meanwhile, the living body
putrefies for lack of healing,
starves for dearth of real food,
dies of thirst before bucketless wells.

This is how faith is handed over?
The living faith of the dead
transformed by verbal acrobatics
into the dead faith of the living?

Tight-rope walking and levitation,
sleight of hand impossible to detect,
harmonized palms all around
paralyzed in monolithic salute,
statuary in stone rejected,
yet idols of fleshly fantasy erected.

Who would want to weep
over this pile of stones?
Who would want to rule
over this heap of ruins?

Destitute of all good,
clad darkly yet prey to desire,
marauders indulge themselves in holy rapine,
pectoral jewels gleaming
in the glory of clerical smiles.

Even goat's hair once was accepted in sacrifice,
but now, only holocausts of souls.
x

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When Christ walks in hell

Add caption
                    When Christ walks in hell,
                    will I follow Him even there,
                    will I walk inside His footsteps,
                    out of fresh and sunlit air?

                    He suffered, yes, and suffers
                    though no longer on the tree,
                    whose standing from the grave
                    gave God glory freeing me.

                    Do I go down as He descends,
                    delve deep my brother’s grave
                    to hold him close and cradle him,
                    help Him one soul to save?

                    The nether regions of the dead,
                    not painted myths and lore,
                    are open if I only dare
                    to go through Him the Door.
x

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Except those that free

Avoid ever eating with a woman 
who is not your wife. 
If forced by circumstances to eat with a woman, 
tell your wife about it 
every time.

True words of advice. 
Following them, even to this day, 
has not prevented the worst from happening. 

When a woman listens to the seducing spirit, 
not to infidelity herself, 
but to doubt and accuse her innocent spouse, 
finally driving him from her, 
not noticing even how her family is destroyed 
because she has loaded the blame on him, 
can even the Lord break the bondage 
of this deception? 

What we only see 
is not the whole picture. 
The Lord's mercy, also, 
sometimes looks like destruction, 
except to those who, 
enmeshed in the accidents that fill time, 
know that even there, the Lord is with them, 
and that there are no losses except those that free.
x

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where the sea is no more

Growing up in the oceanless, midwestern prairie, 
when I finally saw the ocean—
Where was it? 
It must have been Oregon or California 
when I was about twenty-one 
and traveled 
from my new home in Canada for the first time—
I was awed. 

I am in awe of the majesty of the sea. 
It draws me into it like the Divine Nature, 
being at once the womb of my conception, 
the nurturing mother of my life, and yes, 
even in the sometime future, my watery grave. 
Like water evaporated from it 
to fall as rain on the land and rejoin it finally 
through creeks, streams, and rivers, 
I feel my life to be iconified 
in the migrations of the sea’s waves.

When I go to the coast, 
I walk out into the ocean barefooted
and offer my veneration 
by bowing and touching it, 
because all water is holy, 
now that the Lord Himself enters the waves 
by His life-purifying baptism. 

All mythologies ancient and modern, 
of west and east, 
meet in my memory with the Spirit 
who hovered over the waters 
from which dry land and life appeared. 

I see before me Vishnu reclining 
on the primeval many-headed cobra 
Shesha floating in the sea of milk 
dreaming of the world 
and in dreaming preserving it, 

no less than Jesus Christ lying asleep 
with His head on the cushion 
in the boat on the storm-tossed Galilean lake, 
while His disciples feared for their lives, 
until He awoke and stilled the waves, 
waking even our infant mythology 
into the dawn of the day of truth.

Yes, and John Klímakos, 
ladder-bending John, 
showing us its rungs by love’s candlelight 
in the night of this world. 

Faithful reading too 
wakes desire in us to ascend with the Lord, 
not just watch Him disappear in the clouds. 

Let the angels wake the others from slumber 
who gaze heavenwards, 
but let us follow those pierced feet 
as they disappear upwards into unattainable light. 
Unattainable, yes, 
but only to those who walk for fear of flight. 

John, help us to keep from falling from that ladder, 
as we ascend not by our own efforts, 
but in His arms strong to carry and to save, 
so that we may join you in that world 
where the sea is no more, 
and where we see no temple, nor sun, nor moon, 
for the Lord God and the Lamb, 
are our temple 
and light.
x

Saturday, February 18, 2012

offerings


             some things that are cannot be told in prose
             evincing poetry, these acts unrhyme
             the past, the present, future, and all time,
             rewriting all that happened, all we chose


             a son returns a man still aged fifteen
             his dreams as flowers scattered on a stone
             remember still the land where they were sown
             so he his heart unearths, uncrushed, unseen


             too large, let it be written as it may
             mine eyes have seen it, truly, through a veil
             a tear in time admits one lately born
             to regions where the mind can surely stay
             awaiting all that left behind must trail
             until all shall be mended that was torn

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Live


live for yourself in every creature
live for the calm in the storm
live but to love though no one notice
live but to know, not be known

wait for the time in every moment
watch for the day in the night
witness in joy though all be sorrow
wonder at dark, hid in light

give of yourself and never tire
give of the pleasure and pain
give but to gather what only matters
give but to go, not be gone

nothing there is though all surround you
no one is here but your own
never is new though old be ever
no way but this, truth is one
x

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Always

The air is cool and the evening dark.
Only an hour after sunset
the sky is indigo black,
laced with high cumulus clouds
faintly glowing with light from a waxing gibbous moon
bright in the zenith above.

I walk my rent money over to the office
of ‘The Binfords’ where I live,
an old fashioned neighborhood
of ivy-covered white stucco row houses
built about the year I was born,
sixty-one years ago.

Calm is the night, the air faintly tinged
with the smell of suppers
cooking in kitchens as I pass,
the pale lamplight contrasting
with the deeply textured trunks
of giant evergreens lining the path.

Up a stair here,
down another there,
as my walk meanders over roots
that insist on having the right of way,
and have been obligingly paved over.
In these shadows,
if I didn’t know my way,
I might have tripped.

Ranging in the western heavens,
brightly shining, astonishingly luminous and clear,
Venus, looking so close
it makes the vast universe seem small,
a homey place, an astrological garden
planted for His wayward and wandering children
by the great God and gardener,
Jesus Christ.

I feel little but protected,
His love not being doled out grudgingly
as by a measuring and weighing deity,
but by the Lord of all,
to whom size is of no consequence,
nor renown, nor accomplishments, nor wealth,
nor even manly wisdom,
only that we exist,
only that we live, facing Him with trust and thanksgiving,
willing to receive all that He generously gives,
happy to see Him when He appears,
shining in the stars like tonight,
or in the eyes of our brothers and sisters,
creatures like us,
each infinitely different.

The eight psalms of the first day of the month,
the ones I know best,
even by heart,
unravel themselves in no particular order
as I trace my path homewards,
and pacify my soul.

My life is simple,
adheres to stillness,
and finds refuge like the hidden inhabitants of forest trees,
unheard and unseen,
and free.

The care of the Creator God envelopes me
like the strong yet gentle arms of the Bridegroom
that open to receive His Bride,
doting on her as His one and only,
both of them unaware
of anything or anyone outside themselves,
because their love contains multitudes,
includes all.

There is nothing and nowhere
outside this House that the Lord has made,
no roads long and weary laden with the remorse of parting,
only His way, always arriving, always leading Home
where, always welcome,
I live forever.
x

Friday, January 27, 2012

Evening Confession


Evening confession.
Outpourings of a blind old Greek with a Jew's heart,
rich in his poverty,
owning nothing but his own sinfulness,
seeking no one but the Eternal,
even knowing that finding Him
is the losing of himself.

The end of all things is nigh,
but not as prophesied by bibliolators
or boasted by Sabine women clothed in the sun
who use the moon as a swing.

The dragon that seeks to swallow the Man Child
is not the same as the dragon
whose year has just begun,
that harmless creature
who carries the Son of Heaven home
when his mandate is foreclosed.

Infinite Mercy stands waiting,
hidden behind our walls, to reveal Himself,
at every moment knowing exactly where we need Him most,
and why we are in need.
He does not wait as we wait.

He is ready when we call,
echoing unknowingly His calling us.
His forgiveness covers even our audacity
in believing we are God,
that we do not need Him,
that our freedom originates in ourselves.

His salvation in bathing us
does not drown us in the process,
but makes us clean again,
forgetting our uncleanness forever.

Yes, and the Woman clothed with the sun,
yes, we will find out exactly who She is.
x

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wild Rock Honey

The Word of God written in two tongues,
Hebrew and Greek,

two languages
could not be more different from each other,

the one grounded in bedrock,
the other rushing ahead of the irresistible wind
that sends men to seek life on the high ‘seas of leaving,’
yes, leaving all behind,
yet losing nothing.

Christ the divine Man and the human God,

mortised in the granite of eternity, yet supple
to bear the only nourishing fruit that can make us immortal:
He is what all religion that is true leads us into.
Everything else is mere barbaric yawp.

Holy Triad the mystery,

Sotiría the progression,
Théosis the perfection.

How can we ascend by our own wings?

Only as the angels,
whose wings are ‘not made by human hands,’
but by the Most-High,
only as the angels can we approach the Son without melting.

Yes, ‘we can know God easily

so long as we do not feel it necessary to define Him.’

Lord, 
help us to learn to speak Your language, 
Your words, 
and purify us thereby, 
by the Spirit 
in whom we live and move and have our being. 

Teach us, 

only Rabbi of mankind, 
the meaning of Your words we utter. 

Satisfy us with the wild rock honey, 

let our crowns burst into flower.
x

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unworthy


                 I wish I didn't sin,
                 for then I had no need of Him
                 like others all around
                 don't know they're lost, so can't be found.

                 But sin I must and may,
                 though heart and mind may curse the day
                 for weakness I can't shake,
                 and shame so great my heart would break.

                 He loves me still, I know,
                 and seed He plants in me to grow,
                 that not mid thorns or stones,
                 but from rich earth will rise my bones.

                 Clothed in pure flesh at last,
                 freed from the wrath of sinful past,
                 before the judgment seat
                 where my poor faith His face will meet.

                 Forgiven, as if my sin,
                 not called to mind, had never been,
                 and finally, then and there,
                 made of His kingdom thankful heir.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holy Triad



       God,
       Yahweh,
       the Divine Nature,
       though One in essence,
       lives in an unearthly, holy Triad
       of Father, Son and Spirit,
       Elohim who said,
      ‘Let us make…’
       Our Image,
       Eikon.

       Ever
       as always
       pre-eternal God,
       mercy, majesty, might,
       He was, He is, He is to come,
       never alone yet ever One,
       Rabbi who prayed,
      ‘As I am in You,
       they in Me
       may be.’

       Gate
       of sheep,
       royal from birth,
       the Triple Will unveiled
       in the beauty of human flesh,
       makes kings, queens,
       priests, prophets,
       lambs shorn
       of death,
       alive.
x

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Like her


Like Mary of Nazareth,
the Theotokos,
let us live our lives in such a way
that when they look into our tombs,
they will find nothing,
not a trace,
nothing even to show
that we passed this way.

Like her,
we have found the greatest Treasure,
the Son and Word of God,
whose friendship is the greatest wealth,
who clothes us with His righteousness
so that we can claim
absolutely nothing as our own.

Like her,
we have left houses, brothers, sisters,
father, mother, children or land
for His sake.

Repaid a hundred times over?
And inherit eternal life?
How can we not?


For He is
eternal Life,
and we are His.
x

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gods

Divine humanity, or human divinity?
Which would we rather have?
This is the question that is presented to man
in every generation
from the first to the last.

The first is not in our control,
something we could not even guess at,
something only dreamt of
by those whose hearts persistently seek the Most-High,
wondering what He is.

The second is what we found ourselves left with.
Since we couldn’t discover divine humanity,
we consoled ourselves
by inventing human divinity.

Human beings,
worthy or unworthy,
raised some of themselves to the status of gods.
The ancient heroes of the Greeks,
of the Indians,
of the Chinese,
gods.

The wielders of earthly power,
those in whom their peoples invested
the ring, orb and crown of authority,
lauded ‘guardians of mankind’ and ‘benefactors,’
gods.

Those fools who once graced the courts of kings
with levity to assuage the harshness of our earthly exile,
now electronically glorified,
our entertainers,
gods.

Human divinities all,
they are sculpted images of the human nature,
to be worshipped by their adorers,
or vilified by opponents
who worship not men
but things.

Yet, divine humanity,
after long ages,
He did appear.
He,
the bedreamt of prophets and prophet-kings,
has appeared,
does appear,
and now lives among us.

No sculpture, no painted image
can convey Him to us better than He Himself can,
walking in our midst, as one of us,
though we do not recognize Him
but in retrospect.

He is Divine Humanity,
having taken our human nature
into the fiery folds of His sixfold wings
up to the Throne of the Divine Nature,
making us enter heaven,
and the heaven of heavens.

Making us sit upon His Throne
and upon His Father’s Throne,
making us sup with Him and with His Father
and the Spirit Holy
at the banquet Table,
in the light of a thousand suns.

Every molecule of our humanity
transformed in Him into Divinity,
no particle of darkness remains,
no shadow,
only light, light, wonderous light,
bright, bright, brighter.

Divine humanity,
or human divinity?
Which do you choose?

‘No one lights a lamp to hide it under a bushel.’
‘A city set on a hill cannot be hid.’
‘I set before you life,
And death.’

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Inevitable gate


Die at Vrndávan, die at Práyag,
die where Ganga is born,
or where she flows,
or die where she meets her lover the sea.

Die at Makkah,
or at Yerushaláyim,
or in a cave on Holy Athos,
or where heaven meets earth,
a mountain no one can see.

It is only a meeting at the inevitable gate.
He will not carry you away like a thimble tied with string,
for she makes her request.

Faithfulness has its reward,
a power that breaks the claims of Death,
Yama cannot resist, for his prison has been imprisoned.

Lightning strikes, shining from east to west,
returning from west to east,
to earth itself in the soil of the heart,
making holy ground.

To die is different from what anyone expected,
and luckier,
and the place of death
lovelier than any choice can arrange.
x

Monday, June 27, 2011

Born blind

We are born blind,
we never had eyes,
we have never seen light,
nor known it,
nor experienced it,
we have no idea even of what it is,
just what others have told us.
But did they have eyes?
Were they born with sight?
Or do they speak of what they imagine but never see?

This is how it is, for us,
for every human being who has ever walked the earth,
but One.

We are born blind.
We hear the world around us,
but cannot see it.
We know it’s there,
we bump into it,
sometimes hurting ourselves,
until we learn how to navigate through the darkness.

Darkness?
Our world doesn’t look dark to us.
It’s light, it’s beautiful,
there’s so much in it to see and experience.
Yes, but all that you say we are seeing,
all of it, my brothers,
is dark and featureless,
as shallow yet as deep as a starless night,
and yet you say you see.

Let me,
one blind man who does not see but feels, tell you
that as wonderful as it would be for a man born blind
to be granted the faculty of sight,
that is how wonderful, and even more, it will be
when we who have been born blind and see only this world
are granted to really see.

To really see,
when we have received our sight,
we cannot remember anymore that seamless darkness
that was what we thought the world to be.
We will be able to close our eyes for a moment—
only the demons are eyelidless—
and see the world we left behind.

And just as we close our eyes to better pray,
so there will we close our eyes for our brothers
who live yet in that world born blind,
which never (since it sold them) had eyes nor sighted birth,
as we intercede without ceasing
for those who await with longing to receive their sight.

And open them again,
to receive Him who was always everywhere present,
filling all things,
the Lord and Creator of Life,
to receive Him into our hungry eyes,
to become what we behold,
finally, finally,
after waiting for what seemed for ever,
waiting only to be fulfilled,
to see only Him.
x

He


Yes, I am still alive.
I have to pinch myself sometimes,
just to make sure.

I have to read a word I’ve written,
to make sure I have not gone mad,
or gone missing.

Where am I?

Always and forever, here,
because He is here.

Am
, because He is.

Mine
,
because He has given me myself,
His gift, once and only,
inimitable, unfeignable,
the same yet different from all His other gifts,
which as they gently fall from His caring hands,
form themselves into worlds,
persons, creations, visible and invisible.

He is Lord,
and we are nothing but praise,
returning back to Him
the reflection of His blessed face,
which He has imprinted in our depths,
singing back to Him the song
with which He sang all that is into being.

Empty
,
so that He may fill me.

Silent
,
so that He may teach me.

Slow,
so that He may quicken me.

Dead
,
so that He may raise me.

O Lord, how wonderous You are among Your saints!
x

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day by day

Day by day,
never perfect,
never worthy,
never righteous,
never wise,
but trying to walk by faith, not by sight,
trying to follow the Master whose blessed feet
tread not the tame path of religion,
but get dusty from the world’s roads,
following Him even when it hurts,
even when tired,
even when unhappy,
even when tempted,
even having sinned,
even when accused, judged and imprisoned falsely,
day by day.
x