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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On the Margins, Beauty

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“— for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.” 

– From “As Kingfishers Catch  Fire,” Gerald Manley Hopkins 

 

Go to where the secure, for security’s sake,
have banished the seedy and the unseemly,
the crooked and the vile: God’s maimed ones

Go to where sleazies
settle, hustlers
hustle, and beggars do their begging

Go to where hope’s outskirts border wastelands of despair,
where the well-to-do have discarded
the disfigured children of their lust and ambition: 

Otherwise known as the groaning, wandering
forgotten, who celebrate an eternal scrap-metal Shakkot upon
the coiling, roaming dusts –

Otherwise known as the dispensable,
unavoidable holocausts
of the dreams and successes of a few…

Go there, to the margins,
and find your beauty.
For the face of the Lord shines in sodden faces
and in dirty places

Generously

Faces
Opening doors
Which they themselves
Are incapable of
Answering:

Not to languish
There, in the wishing
Differently
Or wresting otherwise —

But to abide,
Praising it,
With unclenched hands that
Loosen, like
Sails, upon
The welcoming wind;

And to move freely
Within the guilelessly
Unattainable, content
With how
What flows forth
Generously,
Generously recedes

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…

“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.

Deo Gratias – A Prayer

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Just as a stretch of brume
Will with heaven suddenly
Part –
Will, wayward,
Break
From its source in cloudwork host,
And begin to wend its way
Through barren mountain passes,
Penetrate
The rent and the rift of them as it
Courses, unveiling in its wake, at long last,
A beatitude of color,
Joyous, brimful,

Newborn, where before
Loveliness held no dominion,
Where before the scabrous basalt
Twisted with rage
Scabrous, twisted
And cruel,
Each one angry at life
And at every other,

Angry at the
Loutish, slogging Sun
That doesn’t care,
And never will,
And at the hoarse wind
That whips through them
Ceaselessly, howling…

Their primal,
Toungeless, cry
– for what? –
Become a soundless resounding
Through each cavernous
Steep, swallowed up
Once and for all
By the listless
Firmament,
In which no star would seem to burn
For hope’s nightwatch…

– Yes, just so, Lord,
Just so did you pass
Through all of man’s inexplicable
Suffering, only to leave man himself
– Inexplicably, shall I say miraculously? –
In bloom.

Amen.