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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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.

What The Doctor Said – Raymond Carver

He said it doesn’t look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I’m real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
Something no one else on earth had ever given me
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addiction happens

Addiction happens when we no longer want to feel our feelings. Addiction happens when we don’t want to know our own thoughts or feel our own pain. But you know what? Addiction doesn’t work. in the long run addiction brings ten times more pain than you would experience by accepting the legitimate pain of being a human being. Religion needs to be teaching this upfront and without apology. – Richard Rohr

complicated system of paths

Photo by Soulful Pizza on Pexels.com

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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A Song On The End Of The World – Czeslaw Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

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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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acting just enough

selective focus photography of white cherry blossoms at sunset

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

It is like an English summer day, cool and cloudy, with deep green grass all around the Hermitage and trees heavy with foliage. Occasional slow bursts of gentle sunlight that imperceptibly pass by. Shafts of light in great rooms of shadow and the tall tree-church beyond the cedar cross. the path of creek gravel leads into the shadows and beyond them to the monastery, out of sight, down the hill, across fields and a road and a dirty stream. All such things as roads and sewers are far from this place.

Knowing when you do not need anymore. Acting just enough. Saying enough. Stopping when there is enough. Some may be wasted, nature is prodigal. Harmony is not bought with parsimoniousness.

Yet stopping is “going on.” To cling to something and want more of it, to use it more, to squeeze enjoyment out of it. this is to “stop”and not go on. But to leave it alone at the right time, this is the right stopping, the right going on. To leave a thing alone before you have had anything to do with it, if it is for your use, to leave it without use, is not “stopping” is not even beginning. Use it to go on.

– Thomas Merton, journal entry – May 16, 1961