The Mystery of Hidden Consolation

Thomas Merton's hermitage at The Abbey of Our ...

Thomas Merton’s hermitage at The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from Thomas Merton’s Dialogues With Silence

Lady, the night has got us by the heart.

The whole wide world is tumbling down.

Words turn to ice in my dry throat

Praying for a land without prayer,

Walking  to you on water all winter

In a year that wants more war.


English: By Rembrandt.

English: By Rembrandt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These ideas are taken from an article by Stefanie Knauss on the theology of the senses. I was happy to find a name for what I have come to know intuitively. I also know that I have prayed in this way all my life. I feel the direct contact with beauty is a way to know God. Stefanie calls this aisthetic theology. In the encounter with the arts, with the beautiful  our focus is on the sensory experience of the works and overcomes the tendency to intellectualize the aesthetic experience. It broadens the horizon of aesthetic theology by showing that theologically relevant  sensory experiences can be made not only through high art (Mozart‘s, operas, Rembrandt’s paintings, etc.) but there are many more forms of art that address the senses in manifold ways: taste in the art of cooking, smell in the art of perfumery, or touch in the art of textiles and design. I refer you to Brent Plate’s work  “The Skin of Religion”. This theology, inspired by the senses and inspiring the senses, can then make God be tasted and smelled,” for your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out, therefore the maidens love you” (Cant1,2-3)

“Elegy Indigo”

Trumpet with paper straight mute inserted; bel...

Trumpet with paper straight mute inserted; below are (left to right) straight, wah-wah (Harmon), and cup mutes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jazz at the Plaza

Jazz at the Plaza (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a poem found in a journal of Jazz and Literature called “Brilliant Corners”. The author of the poem is Joel Dias-Porter I put in ( ) what scripture it suggested to me

“Did Miles mute his horn, because

a breeze can carry kites a gust might mutilate?”

(He did not even bend a reed)

Call him poet, professor. Call me shaky grasper of the chisel,

caught in a run-on rush to hammer it all.

(I ran a good race, to the end)

Finally, finally, I come to believe in loss as a way of knowing.

(I consider all loss as gain)

How long does it take to hear what silence can say?

(Be still and know)

I stand at a stoplight, waiting for the colors to change.

At forty-five one has to deal with eyesight fading.

(I see dimly through a glass)

Not fading like blue from the knees of your favorite jeans

or lights on a stage above a silenced microphone,

but like a goateed poet in a stingy brim hat

covering the bets of a hooded man with holes for eyes

and blades of scythes where his fingernails should be.

Finally, finally, I come to believe in  loss as a way of knowing.

If the Blues is a river, doesn’t it carry in and wash  away?

(What have you come here to see)

LEDs are replacing halogen and incandescent lamps,

so the headlights of some approaching cars are slightly blues

as his velvet tone joins the voices of all my fallen fathers.

(Father forgive them)

And I tremble ever so softly,  softly, like a kite in a breeze

or the reed in a Harmon mute during a note’s last linger.

(All these things will pass but love will remain)

Finally, finally… I come to believe in loss as  a way of knowing

(follow him)

Finely, finally.

Creative Beauty

English: Pumpkins ready for the Central Park P...

English: Pumpkins ready for the Central Park Pumpkin Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each heart is full of creative beauty. We can excavate the fresh intimations of mystery.

To get to that place when something is known as for the first time and we must communicate that joy by some expression of art.

The more we tend to our soul work the heart becomes surrounded by the realization that we have inherited a beautiful world and nothing is closed to us.

The Garden of Hope

Allegory of hope; Oil on canvas, Francesco Gua...

Allegory of hope; Oil on canvas, Francesco Guardi, 1747 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turn everything over in the interior garden. Leave everything in the care of Christ the gardener. cultivate hope in the living garden.

Hope is the bridge from faith to love. The new self is open to delight in all earthly and heavenly things, preparing us to take on God’s feelings for the universe.

The self is silently being worked on beyond the self experience that blocked encounter with the other. We have the capacity to be allured by the future.

We don’t see clearly but we see joyfully. We see the promise that comes to us from the future.

Hope is the key through the impasse. When memory becomes a silent place, hope takes over. The burden and pleasure of the past can inhibit creative response to the present. The past is replaced by renewed confidence and purpose and potential. God is the goal of all human hoping. It is God’s doing but we must do all we can.


The surface of a freshwater lake

The surface of a freshwater lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may be a new word to paint your word pictures with. I hope so. It is given me by Joho O’Donohue. I live be side the lake and I always hear the ripple of the waters and the sound of the wind. Sometimes you would not even know that great expanse of fresh water is out there because of the stillness. That is when I hear Teannalach. It means awareness. The awareness that is seven layers deep. It is the attention to the unheard music of the lake. It is the language of the lake. The lake beneath the lake. It only reveals itself when the mind’s attention is finely tuned.

Gossamer Nights

English: Grazing Sheep and Gossamer. The whole...

English: Grazing Sheep and Gossamer. The whole field was covered with gossamer, virtually invisible unless a low viewpoint was taken into the sun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kissed by a light sleeper. Fire is kindled. Autumnal winds. Leaves cling to skeleton trees. The shadow dream, the inner song is coming to life. The restless wind and rain comfort me in my familiar sanctuary.

Evocative Listening

English: Evocative light at Dundrum Inner Bay....

English: Evocative light at Dundrum Inner Bay. Despite looking like a sunset or sunrise, this picture was taken mid morning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have all the answers we need right within us. We only need to evoke them and listen to our heart. Do not invalidate those seemingly non-sensical renderings from our fears, wants, or sorrows or dreams. We must listen for they bear the secret of who we are. We are not separate from our experience, past, present and future. Our past can be a source of wisdom. For the present and future try going with your intuition. As I have tried this I find my old ways less helpful because my head was always several steps behind my heart. I really needed to listen to the evokings of my heart.

La Verna or Subuiaco

Prayer flags on Renjo La

Prayer flags on Renjo La (Photo credit: Oliphant)

Great Saints had there landscapes of prayer, as we do. We are all nature mystics. It is not sentimental or foolish romanticism. It is Life. The Experience of the landscape in poetry by Shelley or Keats or that of a farmer or North American Indian is all one experience of the contact that enriches prayer. It is no wonder that natural places have always been sought out  for prayer.