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

The Hours ~ 7 Poems – Part 7 of 7




VII.

Early Morning:  Lauds
~Winter’s First Snowfall

Early I came to the assembly for supplication,
awaiting Your Word in response.
My eyes looked out in the morning watch,
hoping to converse on Your sayings.
(Ps 119:147-148)

And the snow as it fell settled
On the hands of the saint’s
Outstretched marble arms
Forming a kind of glove, white

On white, so delicate that even
A passing breeze could remove it.
The monastery courtyard in time
Supplied the breeze, feeling a sense

Of duty to the brassy music
The morning had summoned up
As dawn’s first trumpet blasts were
Already sparkling on the pavement

Like cut glass.  It was the same
Fanfare that had thrown itself upon
Fat spruce tree, clinging fiercely
To the tree’s prickly arms until, fine
As dust, the wind snatched it away.

*

Upon the hedges I could see,
As if on display, sheets of
White music:
  The night’s
Snowstorm, it seemed, had

Let fly a flock of moths, and
From their fuzzy, white wings
Morning’s stillness had fashioned
Long strands of melody, with

Shimmering arpeggios beneath
A sustained trill played weightlessly
—Piano music strewn like bath towels
On the off-white tiles of a floor.

The display in all its glory left me
Dumbfounded.  I slipped away,
Back into the safe harbor of
The soul’s preferred state of

Inwardness, where wonder
Acquires the new name Joy.

*

But then came the early morning
Rush of stillness overpowering me.
There hung the sight of the chapel’s
Jagged stone wall, with the heavy

Wooden presider’s chair parked
Near the altar, the thick mist of
Daylight encircling them.  Once I’d
Arisen and gingerly carried my limbs

Into the morning’s glassy rich ambit
Of bright-eyed prayer, my eyes saw
Him as if seated there before me:

He had established the pieces
Of His presence to me well before

Any question of a subsequent absence
Shuddered like winter within me.  But
It made no difference in the end; it was
Precisely this, and only this, my wonder

At things, that He depended on, having
Crafted for Himself, of all such moments
Of simple beauty, His host of playthings,
Like a set on Tinker Toys.  Thus, it would

Be my own sullenness that I’d have to
Rely on if I wanted to reinstate my
Natural sadness again.  I wished
Otherwise.  Let joy to spread

Through me almost to the point of
Popping open my heart; let me hear
His breath as it lunges from His lungs
And rumbles off like a herd of buffalo.



Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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