Monday, March 10, 2014

“And the Lord, seeking his workman among the multitudes to whom he thus crieth, saith again: ‘What man is he that desireth life and would fain see good days?’ (Psalm 33) And if hearing him thou answer, ‘I am he,’ God saith to thee: ‘If thou wilt have true and everlasting life, keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips that they speak no guile. Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it. (Ps. 33) And when you have done these things, my eyes will be upon you and my ears open unto your prayers. And before you call upon me, I shall say to you, ‘Lo, here I am.’ What can be sweeter to us, dearest brethren, than this voice of our Lord inviting us? Behold in his loving mercy the Lord showeth us the way of life.”
The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Staying Power

                In appreciation of Maxim Gorky at the International
                 Convention of Atheists.  1929

Like Gorky, I sometimes follow my doubts
outside and question the metal sky,
longing to have the fight settled, thinking
I can’t go on like this, and finally I say

all right, it is improbable, all right, there
is no God.  And then as if I’m focusing
a magnifying glass on dry leaves, God blazes up.
It’s the attention, maybe, to what isn’t

there that makes the notion flare like
a forest fire until I have to spend the afternoon
dragging the hose to put it out.  Even
on an ordinary day when a friend calls,

tells me they’ve found melanoma,
complains that the hospital is cold, I say God.
God, I say as my heart turns inside out.
Pick up any language by the scruff of its neck,

wipe its face, set it down on the lawn,
and I bet it will toddle right into the godfire
again, which--though they say it doesn’t
exist—can send you straight to the burn unit. 

Oh, we have only so many words to think with. 
Say God’s not fire, say anything, say God’s
a phone, maybe.  You know you didn’t order a phone,
but there it is.  It rings.  You don’t know who it could be. 

You don’t want to talk, so you pull out
the plug.  It rings.  You smash it with a hammer
till it bleeds springs and coils and clobbered up
metal bits.  It rings again.  You pick it up

and a voice you love whispers hello.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A man does not come an inch nearer to being a heretic by being a hundred times a critic. Nor does he do so because his criticisms resemble those of critics who are also heretics. He only becomes a heretic at the precise moment when he prefers his criticism to his Catholicism. That is, at the instant of separation in which he thinks the view peculiar to himself more valuable than the creed that united him to his fellows. --GK Chesterton

Sunday, January 12, 2014

This was the fullness of time, when Christ Jesus did come, that the Messiah should come. It was so to the Jews, and it was so to the Gentiles too... Christ hath excommunicated no nation, no shire, no house, no man; He gives none of His ministers leave to say to any man, thou art not redeemed; He gives no wounded or afflicted conscience leave to say to itself, I am not redeemed. ---John Donne

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. --Wendell Berryi