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

At Day's End

~after a conference on St. Therese

We knocked at the door.  Did she answer?
A sprinkle of rain brightened the streets,
The trees, the lawns, the sidewalks--
The city shone, and her eyes everywhere
Looked out as if from behind a window.

Hardly daring a smile, she turned and hid.
In time a rainbow appeared, traced back
To her open hands . . . She had tossed
A white dove in the air and said:  Be free,
Free as a bird . . . Now it rests at our feet.

Night sent us home for wine or beer,
For good company.  Talk resumes, this time
About how she once moved among us,
Although very little, yet everywhere,
Gone forth like a promise, like a universe

In which to roam.  Is hers the word that
Fits all occasions?   We speak it tonight,
Though such talk soon fades.  It is
The warmth in the voice, the warmth

That was hers, that lingers on and on.


Interpretive note:
          I don't want to say too much about this poem.  As indicated, it was written following a day of talks about St Therese, about her life and spirituality.  It was a full day, and I had found the talks somewhat overly ample and exuberant, as if the Little Flower possessed the last word about everything, which, of course, she doesn't.  "Is hers the word that fits all occasions?"  So asks the poem.  And the answer that day seemed to have been yes.
          Perhaps more than what was said about St. Therese that day, what mattered most in the end--at day's end, that is--was a kind of spiritual resonance or ambience I took away from it all.  It is this resonance that I've tried to capture in some of the playful imagery offered in the poem--the shy smile looking out from behind a window, the rainbow and dove, the camaraderie over beer or wine, the warmth in the voice that, while the words may fade, lingers on and on.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure, OCD
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