Pen strokes paint

Light oak polished
floor, mantel-shelf,
hundreds of books
lining walls each side
small tables, reading
lamps, wall lights – four

modest tv, and film
collection, clicking
knitting needles, coffee
cups, pens, inks, paper
iPad, Mac, iPhone
Bethle’m nativity scene
star above stable door

bright Persian rug
set centred on the
floor – Libertino’s
Italian magic carpet
rides to places
unheard of heretofore.

Beige leather sofa
and chairs, black
stove warming
hearts and home
low round table
books, journals, arts

Zbigniew Herbert poems
Thomas Merton, Thomas Mann
watercolours, Richard Rohr
Rabindranath Tagore
Ken Wilber, Austin Farrer’s
The End of Man

Rembrandt’s The Artist
in his Studio
has inward
looking eyes – painted-out
dulled and black. His
great paintings seen
in mind’s eye and

nothing did they
lack. So from my
mind’s eye in a
favourite room at
home, pen strokes
paint – in words

alone.

Simon Marsh

Essence

Yesterday I posted part of Ernesto Cardenal’s translation of Psalm 19 – a hymn to Creation on the grand scale. Today I’ve been reading his 1970 book Love. With what Thomas Merton’s appreciative Preface describes as his ‘lucid and “Franciscan” simplicity’ Cardenal sees Love at the heart of, literally, everything – even when it doesn’t recognise itself. And such a proposition gives rise to pause and contemplation. Really? Love at the heart of everything? Which led me to thoughts about essence – that which Jesus said ought not to be kept hidden beneath a bushel – which led me back to Danna Faulds:

Who you are

Who you are is so much more than what you do. The essence, shining through the heart, soul, and center, the bare and bold truth of you does not lie in your to-do list. You are not just at the surface of your skin, not just the impulse to arrange the muscles of your face into a smile or a frown, not just boundless energy, or bone wearying fatigue. Delve deeper. You are divinity; the vast and open sky of spirit. It’s the light of God, the ember at your core, the passion and the presence, the timeless, deathless essence of you that reaches out and touches me. Who you are transcends fear and turns suffering into liberation. Who you are is love.

Danna Faulds
Go In and In

Essence and remembrance. Keywords – and key people – I’ll be returning to here.

The Ubiquity of a Presence

Writing, like faith, springs and falls in seasons: sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly …

And months have flown by since my last post here and “Fall” is now upon us – in glorious technicolour in my part of the world. As leaves fall reflections rise – ever-renewing the want to meditate, to pray, to reflect and to remember, and to set aside a little time to write.

Today, I think, it was reflecting upon the ever-changing technicolour around me that brought to mind one of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations at the end of September. Writing, beautifully and generously as always, in a piece called “Your Imaginarium“, Rohr cites Joseph Campbell quoting Thomas Merton:

One cannot apprehend a symbol unless one is able to awaken, in one’s own being, the spiritual resonances which respond to the symbol not only as sign but as ‘sacrament’ and ‘presence.’ The symbol is an object pointing to a subject. We are summoned to a deeper spiritual awareness, far beyond the level of subject and object.

Thomas Merton
Symbolism: Communication or Communion?
New Directions 20
(New York: New Directions, 1968), pp 11-12

. . . Mythologies and religions are great poems and, when recognised as such, point infallibly through things and events to the ubiquity of a “presence” or “eternity” that is whole and entire in each. In this function all mythologies, all great poetries, and all mystic traditions are in accord; and where any such inspiriting vision remains effective in a civilisation, everything and every creature within its range is alive. The first condition, therefore, that any mythology must fulfil if it is to render life to modern lives is that of cleansing the doors of perception to the wonder, at once terrible and fascinating, of ourselves and of the universe of which we are the ears and eyes of the mind.

Joseph Campbell
Myths to Live By, p 255
The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell

Here’s a vision that sets the spirit’s wind whistling in my wheels: ‘great poems … the ubiquity of a “Presence”‘.

Ah yes: always and everywhere, no matter the circumstance or season. Vivifying challenge to both the xenophobic and the theologically smug.

Would that all of us might find our locus in poetry’s truths. I’m reminded of some words in Michael D Higgins’ wonderful poem, Take Care

… Belief
requires
that you hold steady.
Bend, if you will,
with the wind.
The tree is your teacher,
roots at once
more firm
from experience
in the soil
made fragile.

Your gentle dew will come
and a stirring of power
to go on
towards the space
of sharing.

Michael D Higgins
from Take Care
New and Selected Poems
Liberties Press, Dublin, 2011