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

Five Advent Poems – Part 4

At the Deathbed of St. John of the Cross

And when you died, we felt your hands trembling in ours; or was it our hands
Trembling in yours?  The night had won through to us and stooped
At the door like some beast come home to its cave; we heard it
Purring contentedly--the fireplace ablaze, logs aflame.

Maybe it was just your last, strangely tender breathing we heard
Spread through the room like sleeping children.  "Sleep can be
Wakeful," you once said, "if only we wake into twilight as it opens above,
A flower hidden deep in a pine grove . . ."
We repeat your words in a whisper.  They'll be ours someday, we think;
Though they seem far away, in time they'll be near, just across the river.

But look, there beneath your words your breathing remains; you're
Still with us, aren't you?  Two knuckles from your left hand are displayed
Under glass as outside the summer wind or gnawing cold reigns.
We've won you back from the night.  Enter, then, and sit.  We'll join you

In a circle, our souls purring like logs on a fire.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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