Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Poet and Contemplative

“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

Reflections on Holy Week – Part 1 of 4

What happened to the body of Jesus after his crucifixion?  Where did it go?  It depends on what me mean by body, right?By body are we referring to Jesus’ humanity, or, more specifically, to his mortality, his being subject to a finite existence as an isolated and vulnerable self, ultimately beholden to death?Or, in a similar, but more theological vein, are we referring to his being
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Easter Sunday

The two departed for Emmaus late morning;The heat of the day flopping itself downIn front of them like a hound dog.  Soon the crowdsWould swell and clog the road.                    The dayWas overcast, our two pilgrims downcast—He whom they called Master having become outcast.It almost works with “grown”
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Holy Saturday

Swaddled in white air, the great ash tree sleeps fitfully.Shadowless at noon I walk out among the roses and coriander,A patch of geraniums nearby, all smiles.  Here one talksAbout love poems, without the will to write one.“Oh, I wish I could play the piano like a pro.  Clear and crispMy interpretation of Prokofiev’s Toccata would be…”So a voice in my head distractedly
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Holy Thursday

Take this, He said—this tear-swollen ocean.  This skyThe size of a receding star and all the dark around it.This field of dandelions, their countless fists raisedIn imitation of the sun, worshipping its warmth.This whiskey-colored forest floor distilled from tonsOf pinecones.  This poem that St. John of the CrossUsed to called his Eine kleine Nachtmusik—“goodFor fanning
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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 6 of 7

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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 5 of 7

V.Grace Builds on NatureThere's no sweetness these fruity molecules,Packed tight as clay and strung like lights fromThe graceful, arching branches of these trees,There's nothing they will not undertake for you,Filling your belly with the nectar of a ripe plum,Or stuffing your satchel with choice pears, shapedLike teardrops and tasting of a plenary indulgenceFrom purgatory's cleansing bubblebath of
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The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 3

Passing Through~Beale Street, Memphis, USAOh, what madness there is in the steely voiceOf an upright piano pounding levies like a swollen river.What pings of glee spring from the sleek body ofAn electric guitar and bounce off walls like popcorn.The dirge-like wailing of a tenor sax becomes a butterflyAnd flits away, sipping flowers up and down the whole lengthOf the street.  Yes, Beale Street,
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The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 2

Pasqueflower in the rain II.Sunday Morning~MarylakeSnails, slugs, earthworms crowd the flowerbed's wet floor.Clouds, spun of glass, are set out like bowls filled with melon.A stray thought passes, maybe one about Mary as she stoopsTo kiss the cold lips of her son, or about the wreathThat enfolded the prayer she then whispered.Rich rye bread for breakfast and, later, icy lemonade,After a brisk walk. 
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The Main Course—What is Contemplation? (Part One)

       There is a poem by Denise Levertov--an English poet who spent much of her life in the US, and who died in 1997 at the age of 74—which was written towards the end of her life, and which gives expression to a truth of the human spirit gained through a lifetime of poetic practice.  The poem is entitled “Sojourns in the Parallel Word," and in part it
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