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

Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 6 of 7


Living by Standing Still

It began when You sat down beside me,
And I heard words shaken like sparrows
From Your breath:  "It will be as it should be;

Let go, don't look back."  I knew then that,
In the end, You didn't care whether my efforts
Toppled and fell into ruin, or held long sway

Through the ages as admirers gathered at
My feet.  Either way You weigh each stone
One by one, each in itself as it is set into place.


Stars shine, joined in constellations,
Their spirits skating in unseen figure-8's
Across the dark between.  Each month 
A full moon cuts its way through to me,
Driving its white blade into my heart.

Somehow these ease the night sweats that,
As a child, once seized me and would not let go.

Come morning my face turns eastward
Stricken with wonder, ready to greet the
Sheet of white rain that sweeps by overhead
And washes my eyes clean in the promise
Of a new day, its wakefulness of soul.


The Spirit's strength had been fashioned
Of only three days' rest; yet He'd been assigned
The thankless task of watching over me.

Now He stands near, towering like heaven's blue
Mirror, His smile calm, wise, pressing itself
Invisibly against my skin.  He looks away,

And, when He looks back, He sees that my life
Is not quite the same.  "I've never asked fixity
Of you; that's Mine to give."  I, for my part,

Having asked no shrine of Him, have dreamt it.
And whenever I look about, there it is.


Life in or with the Holy Spirit is at once movement and stillness, for the Spirit seems to carry us, providing both direction and support.  Our concern is to be the here-and-now, the present moment of grace.
The poem concludes with a kind of dialogue.  The Spirit says:
"I've never asked fixity
Of you; that's Mine to give."

And the poet answers:
I, for my part,
Having asked no shrine of [You], have dreamt it.
And whenever I look about, there it is.

We can imagine that what is meant by a "shrine" here is a moment of grace, a sacred or holy moment given us in life.  Is the companionship of the Holy Spirit, then, a central part of your spiritual life?  How does the Spirit reveal His abiding, guiding presence to you?  Are there such moments, such markers of holiness, set here and there along your way?

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
See Older Posts...