Freedom is found under the dark tree

I sweep. I spread a blanket in the sun. I cut grass behind the cabin. Soon I will bring the blanket in again and make the bed. The sun is overclouded. Perhaps there will be rain. A bell rings in the monastery. A tractor growls in the valley. Soon I will cut bread, eat supper, say psalms, sit in the back room as the sun sets, as the birds sing outside the window, as silence descends on the valley, as night descends. As night descends on a nation intent upon ruin, upon destruction, blind, deaf to protest, crafty, powerful, unintelligent. It is necessary to be alone, to be not part of this, to be in the exile of silence, to be, in a manner of speaking, a political prisoner. No matter where in the world he may be, no matter what may be his power of protest, or his means of expression, the poet finds himself ultimately where I am. Alone, silent, with the obligation of being very careful not to say what he does not mean, not to let himself be persuaded to say merely what another wants him to say, not to say what his own past work has led others to expect him to say.
The poet has to be free from everyone else, and first of all from himself, because it is through this “self” that he is captured by others. Freedom is found under the dark tree that springs up in the center of the night and of silence, the paradise tree, the axis mundi, which is also the Cross.
– Thomas Merton, May 1965

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Whenever I groan within myself…

Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself, “What else is the world interested in?” What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships. God is Love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship with each other of love. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family but to look upon all as our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly, that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven. – Dorothy Day

it is so difficult

Carlo Carretto – The thought that the affairs of the world, like those of the stars, are in God’s hands – and therefore in good hands – apart from being actually true – is something that should give great satisfaction to anyone who looks to the future with hope. It should be a source of faith, joyful hope, and, above all, of deep peace. What have I to fear if everything is guided and sustained by God? Why get so worried, as if the world were in the hands of me and my fellow human beings?
And yet it is so difficult to have genuine faith in God’s actions in the world. To refuse to believe it is one of the gravest temptations to which we are subjected on this earth.

A Two-Headed Thing – Rumi (…never think that you are worthless. God has paid an enormous amount for you…)

The universe swings again into orbit around us.
Am I looking for you or you for me?
The question is wrong.

As long as I keep using two pronouns,
I am this in-between, two-headed thing.

Some of the water in my stream flows quickly by.
Some stays frozen in an ice ledge along the bank.

Sun says to stone, Let me shine inside you
and change your center to ruby.

As the sun of infinite love
comes into your love,
you are given more humble work,
something common like streetsweeping;
then you are given mastery.

The sun says to the unripe grape,
There is a kitchen inside you
where you can make vinegar,
or if I help, sweet juice.

The king says to the falcon, I cover your eyes
with a hood, so that you will break
with your kind and see only my face.
The falcon replies, Yes.

The rose says to the garden,
I display these robes,
so that you will let the other flowers go
and be a one-rose garden.

Imagine a man selling his donkey
to be with Jesus.

Now imagine him selling Jesus
to get a ride on a donkey.
This does happen.
Jesus can transform a drunk into gold.
If the drunk is already golden,
he can be changed to pure diamond.
If already that, he can become the circling
planets, Jupiter, Venus, the moon.

Never think that you are worthless.
God has paid an enormous amount for you,
and the gifts keep arriving.

Dates from a withered branch,
the sweet light that came to Jesus in the cradle.

My face now makes the world’s bathhouse hot.
Don’t look at the wet wall paintings.
Look here.

There is something in us
that has nothing to do with night and day,
grapes that never saw a vineyard.

WE ARE ALL RETURNING.

says the Qur’an. Enjoy Shams,
or if you cannot do that, at least
consider what honest people tell you.

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Christmas at Spring Harbor

late December
    locked up tight
    like a cloister door
a splinter of light
    opens the sky
    a crack before 

the nurse with red hair
    is there with your
    meds saying
for God’s sake
    close the door and
    put on your clothes

I wake to doze while
   beyond the walls
   it’s Christmas

 
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what I read this morning

And yet, each time we are on the way to follow our addiction, there seems to be a second of clarity when we see what we are doing and where we are going. We feel a flash of freedom, and then, if we neglect it, the darkness of our addiction descends again, and we go onward to our “fate” like sleepwalkers.

(Grateful that I’m no longer sleepwalking)

language of descent

The language of descent is either learned by mid-life (normally through suffering and the experience of powerlessness), or we inevitably move into a long day’s journey of accusing, resentment and negativity, circling our wagons as the hurts and disappointments of life gather round us: “I am right and others are wrong. I have a right to my judgments and I will continue to use valuable energy to justify them.” I have visited too many old men and retired priests in nursing homes to doubt this common pattern. When mid-life no longer allowed them to ascend or to deny their dark side, far too many men shut down or kept running. The price is a world of men who do not age well, who are emotionally, spiritually, intellectually unavailable – or just eccentric. These are the dads, priests and leaders we all laugh about but seldom take seriously.

– Richard Rohr, from The Wild Man’s Journey