Winemaking

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“If a jar of wine is left in place a long time, the wine in it becomes clear, settled and fragrant.”

– Evagrius Ponticus

For a long time now:
No words.
Not the color or the
Warmth of them
Even, what we would say
In them swirls fragrantly,
Fills them up 

And learning:
Not the silence
We run from, so much
As the bitterness it contains

Too: That not until you’ve
Harvested its jagged fruit from
The impossible rock, pressed
Its singular flavor from
The faceless, unyielding sky, and
Set it to age all winter long
In the stillness beneath
The earth,
Do you realize: Black,
Not the absence of color,
But a refulgence thereof

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One Morning after Rainfall in July

Little things that touch me now:

The mesquite at the head of the yard,
Gathering the whole of it into its bosom
So, like a mother

The garden post protruding, lazy-eyed,
From the fencing it was
Made to support, saying,

            “This is who I am,” and
            “Now love me for it”

And the sparrows at my feet (little busybodies)
How they work the earth,
Singing like harvesters at field

And lastly: that solitary dove atop the phone wire —
I think she must know me, judging
By the way she gazes at me now…

Would that this quiet, cool morning,
Damp with last night’s showers,
Offer some measure of solace for all

Whom life would seem to have abandoned,
Some respite for hearts haggard
With hardship and the strain of living

Pyrophobia

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To stand in the center of one’s own nothingness in solitude before God is like attempting to hold one’s hand over a flame: it is nearly impossible to remain there for more than a few seconds without being overwhelmed by the pain and then withdrawing back to safety, where things are more comfortable. But go there we must. We have to lose ourselves in the furnace of this nothingness – and die. Trusting, of course, that we will be born again, and continually reborn, in the Spirit. 

Our Own False Light

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Addiction to the whirling often induced by love, but which is not love. And to your own understanding and perception of things, which is so limited – Let go of all of it . Truly, truly, it is really just a clinging to your own false light.

Step out over the edge of the precipice and into the Mystery – Behold! You are still walking…

Abide humbly in the Silence – Behold! It is a really a chorus of angels…

And above all, allow the pain to overwhelm you at times, swallow you whole, like the whale. God’s holy ones are precisely those who abandon themselves to this great process, this great, eternal working. They relinquish themselves up to ever greater, ever wider, ebbs and flows, falling in love, even, with the stretching, the hollowing out, the dying and the rising again.

The “old man” in us always wants to contain the pain, hoping (vainly) that in so doing we will not have to die. But what we are invited to is precisely to die – to relinquish, not to contain. And so remember: “All manner of things shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.” This is the madness of the Peace to which we are called, and it takes root it in the depths of our being in proportion to the depths of our darkness, and uncertainty.     

Veil of the Temple Torn in Two

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New seed, a new
Flowering:

Sown in the emptiness of every night
Spent alone,
Past and future;

Culled and cultivated out of the abysses in me;

And then finally brought forth to bloom
By the tender hands
Of the One who loves me…

Oh, where are you now old man? Where have you gone?

Gone…

Like the blowing of dry leaves in autumn;
Like the obsolescent crumbling of pagan marble
In twilight halls of forget…

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I am most at home
Where the air is filled
With the sound of bells
Singing

Where the Sun of Eternity
Spills out the
Open door
Of all things

Where the Nameless
Draws near in a dark wood
And suffuses lonliness
With the chaste flame of starlight
…………………

Born, we are sundered from Paradise,
Left to fumble – confusedly, mindlessly –
Through the shambles
That make up our inheritance

But I feel in this moment
– this precious, brief moment –
That the Angel has stepped aside,
Sheathed his sword of flame,
And granted admittance
Into the springtime meadows
Of our Origin:

A Grace, costing nothing
– Nothing, save what it took
To learn that it was free:

The pain of a thousand deaths
And a thousand risings

To Do One Thing

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To do one thing:

To find the courage
To wake up in the morning,
Climb out of bed
And make coffee;
To brush one’s teeth because it is necessary;
To go about what one does,
Turning the compost over,
Pulling weeds from the garden,
And planting for next season’s harvest…
– All this,
And to be able to abide
In the thin space between peace
And terror,
Where there is no one,
No one but you and your Creator
Over the widening chasm
That is your life

“This American Life”

Running deeper than
Coincidence, and the meaning
We try
And cobble from it,

Deeper than the
Utterances of our newspaper augurs, or
That special kind of benevolence
We call miracle,

There is the commingling
Of Blood.
Yours, mine, and
Lamb’s.

A shooting star alights
While we kiss in the twilight:
Might portend something –
Might not.

So might the fact
That we knew each other
For a time
As kids

We try. God,
Do we try.

But there is a harrowing
With which, despite ourselves,
We cannot contend, cannot
Undo,

Which will despoil
Us of what we arrange
So delicately, like crystal,
In the reliquary of the heart.

The only thing, therefore:

To feel the magnitude of it all
Become music in the clear
Night air,
Become dancing.