The glare of city lights
—made to illumine our lives,
not only securely marking our steps
and giving security from the stranger
but casting their glare to heaven,
blotting out the light of the stars.
To see the night sky again
(have we perhaps forgotten it?)
I must leave the bustle of the city,
it insecure security, its anxious, feverish control,
its insufficient self-sufficiency,
and step out into darkness.
Alone in the remote countryside
—the desert of the heart—
the city left behind,
and the car, too, left by the roadside,
I walk out into the emptiness of a field,
turning my gaze upward.
And what I see is not empty.
All my life spent filling this empty space in my soul
with chaff blown by the wind,
with rubbish destined for the trash-heap,
or even with light and warmth of good things,
yet which cannot ward of that deeper darkness and chill.
Glistening stars in the night sky,
they were hidden by the light to which I clung.
The gentle sound of wind, whistling in my ears,
the breeze caressing my face, like a hand of one who loves.
The meek sound of nature,
the gentle cooing of a dove,
the chirping of crickets,
the howling of wolves in the distance,
all only deepen the sense of silence,
of being enfolded in earth’s arms.
Yet enfolded thus, it is as if she raises me,
offering me in her hands, to heaven.
I feel, in this way, what is meant
by the truth that I am summoned
to love the earth, yet to despise the world.
All this beauty, this sound of silence,
this peopled-solitude, is blocked out
by the noisiness and ruckus of the world.

Yes, a deeper voice is speaking still,
announcing a word inarticulate, yet clear;
a silent voice, yet radiant, surer,
clearer than any other I have heard.
The deepest voice speaks within,
more interior to me than I am to myself,
silent word of love echoing within my heart.
To hear it I must enter in and become silent too.
The noise of the world, deafening
in its intensity, with very little to say,
in its proximity, pressing in upon my ears,
a closeness which has penetrated
even into the “inner room”
where one prays in secret to the Father.
This is the new prayer, fashioned by us
—our old idols made of wood or gold—
now with lights and sounds, complex interface.
Yet even in this is hope,
for is not every sin, really,
the heart’s desire for prayer gone awry,
seeking fulfillment in a place
where no true rest in found,
rather than in the intimate dialogue
for which the heart is made?
Thus, I can ask every desire which leads me to sin:
“Where is your true home?”
And I can direct you back to him.
Gathered from fragmentation,
the multiplicity grasping here and there,
into the unity of the heart, virgin, poor,
where I learn again to be silent, still,
to receive the gift of love ever welling up
from within this deepest, sacred place,
from him who dwells within.
I am wounded by the gift of love
—a healing wound upon my heart!—
this heart yearns, and gasps, and pines for him again,
drawn out, as it were, from within my breast,
reaching out to touch, to feel, to know
the one Beloved of my heart.

O my heart, why do you run
from that which you most deeply desire,
why do you avoid that
which alone brings you true health?
Perhaps you simply do not know
the abyss of longing hidden within,
covered over, suffocated,
by so many paltry things.
From youth you have been given so much
that you have lost the ability to truly desire,
to say “Thank you” when you receive,
thus being awakened to desire and receive anew,
to be drawn out of yourself
by the gift that you bear within.
Or perhaps you are afraid
of the nakedness of love, of empty, open hands
which cannot simply close over the gift
as a possession under my control—
or of the pain, which, at times,
makes itself felt even in a heart as numb as mine,
the pain of unfulfilled desire,
of a mystery, a joy in hope, and hope in joy,
which is bigger than I can understand, or grasp.
It hurts to be truly alive,
when one is not possessed of true life,
and thus, it pains to love—
yet this is a suffering unlike any other,
an “already” and “not yet” meeting and kissing,
wounding me with gratitude and desire
in the same, single instant,
to receive and to give myself, utterly,
in a moment so full, so rich,
that it cannot be grasped or contained,
yet mysteriously contains me in its arms,
like clouds descending on the mountains,
gently shadowing earth in their soft, impalpable embrace:
the destination present in each moment of the journey,
hidden, yet breathing out the breath of life and joy,
and drawing all towards the fullness yet to come.


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