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

Poems for the New Year – Part 4


IV.

On Being Baptized

In time I learned how to write of the sea.  Or, better,
Of the wave that carried me out to sea.  Its warm
Churning sound called me to the window.  I looked out
And, behold, there it was, the wave gathering in the distance.
I watched it roll in, utterly spellbound by the sight.
Should I call to it, I wondered?  But before I could speak
It raised a cry of its own.  "Come with me," it called.  The ground
Beneath me began to rise and fall.  "Come with me," it repeated.

It was a gesture--this rise and fall, rise and fall--
That even the streets and houses of the city
Decided to take up.  We were all of us a bit drunk
And so tended to lunge forward clumsily as we walked seaward.
Perched on our toes, we would stumble, then catch ourselves.

But what should I say about the vision of things I saw
Out there?  A floating city had lifted itself into the baby blue
Of the morning air.  There life, I saw, transpires
In urges towards wonder or delight, thinking thoughts
Of all kinds, like the thought of being kissed, or the kissing itself.
Nice words are always spoken there, words like sandwiches
Or shellfish, shrubbery or, in single word, smooth-edged stones.
And there, too, one finds countless ways for
Naming God.  Indeed, every word is a name for God.

So, I was swept out to sea, and when I sang of it,
Of the clear, clean water roiling about me,
The others on shore thought I was singing like some strange
Exotic bird.  "What a pleasure to drown here," I sang.  But instead
I sprang up, covered head to foot with fabulous feathers.

Now I'm lost in a milky haze, thrown out against the far horizon.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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