Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November Dream


The Catholic church is keen on prayer. This statement belongs in the same league as The sun is hot, or Boys like toys, for sheer transparency. Prayer, in Catholic terms, is not a matter of mere desire, but a form to be allowed into one’s life. It may feel great, it may feel like nothing more than duty. It is all – as the saying goes – good.
 
A recent indicator of the Catholic priority of prayer is in the life of Blessed Mother Teresa (I think I have that right, her having achieved Blessedness). Her biography revealed decades of doubt following several conversations she had, through prayer, with...well, with our Lord and Savior, who assigned her her calling, as he has been known to do. I believe she felt rather intense disappointment that these conversations ceased. Understandable. But let it be known that she followed her calling, and she continued to pray, which Catholics take to be a marvelous indication of her faith and strength and all-around loveliness, and I could not agree more.

I mention this (I am leading to something) in light of the Month of November, which we dedicate to the dead, to the souls in purgatory, among others, to all saints and, as I think is proper, to all sinners, the dead and not-yet dead (shades of Monty Python here...). This focus follows that of October, where we think a good deal about the Blessed Virgin, our mother, Mary.

For the record, not that one keeps track of these things, I pray quite often on a daily basis, the morning and evening divine office, the rosary, the chaplet of divine mercy (call it three days a week or so on the avg.), and every now and then a novena (I have an amazing book of novenas if you want)– or just recently a dedication of 1000 prayers for the souls in purgatory (especially those who are most forsaken). This in payment for a promise to do so if Obama were to win re-election. If that seems facetious, note that I carried out the same promise when God helped me with patron saints. That was when St. Petronius paid a visit. I wrote it up here.

Other practices. Stations about once a month. Confession every two weeks or so. A lector at Mass. On the pastoral council. You get the idea. Man it’s fun.

Anyway. So I am up to 300 of the prayers for the souls in purgatory. It’s a simple prayer. I do an Our Father, a Hail Mary, ten of these [Dear Father (or God in heaven, etc), have mercy on the souls in Purgatory, especially those who are most forsaken. Amen], then a Glory be. Repeat 5 times for fifty and end with a Hail Mary and an Our Father. I do these on the bus (uh, silently) coming in to work and going home.

So yesterday I was feeling disinclined to do these prayers or even the rosary which I do probably like 29 days out of 30. For whatever reason, but I thought, maybe Mary would just like a prayer of thanks. Maybe I don’t need to ask her for anything or say the same old thing, so I just briefly praised her for being such a great friend and model and mother and everything. It felt good to stop the train so to speak and just say thanks. I mean for Pete’s sake the woman works non-stop.

That was in the early evening. Later that night I closed my eyes, and like the last dream written out here (the Revelations style one) I saw a scene. I am sure you have the experience of seeing images, as if patterned against your inner eyelids when you close your eyes. They are usually just patterns, for me, anyway. But this is what I saw.

I saw shapes take form. The shapes took form as women’s heads and torsos, wearing large, extravagant hats, some of them. Hats such as women wore in the fin-de-si├Ęcle period. The perspective was as if seeing someone about 15, 20 feet away. There was no color, more of a sepia tone inclining toward black. Not cloudy, but dark.

The scene then expanded (I was quite awake, I assure you) until I saw a large crowd, very dense. Light was apparent only obliquely, from one or two openings, like open doors or portals, I would say. From what I could tell there were men and women. They all were dressed in clothing I judged to range from the mid-to-late 1800’s until the 1930’s. That was my impression. They were very densely crowded, milling about. Like people at a train station where there is a delay. All standing, moving about slowly.

In amongst the people were vague, somewhat elongated orbs of light, or mist, lighted. Faintly, and shifting. Of different shapes. I perceived a green color in one or two. I sensed that this was a vision of purgatory. I said the above prayer and one of the mist/light orbs puffed out and disappeared. I said another and the same thing happened. Another one or two disappeared as I was looking but without my having prayed. I was still awake. I said maybe one or two more of the prayers. Same effect.

I then (and this is harder to recount. I was still wake as I recall opening my eyes and looking about, though staying very still) saw a series of openings, principally rectangular or door like. I think I was concentrating on the light sources. Yes I am sure of it now. But there was really only a kind of magnification of the light sources. I remember one opening (door or portal) leaning at an angle. I tried hard to perceive detail. I saw no other details or figures, etc. There, the vision ended.

I got out of bed and went about my business getting ready to go to sleep, talking with family. The usual thing.

Well. You know I no longer bother with caveats for this sort of thing. So I should say this: for a Catholic, the power or effect of prayer is in the nature of fact. It is, principally, a force or effect (by virtue of the Grace of God) as great as any other force you might consider. It does not surprise or shock me to see such a scene, such that accords perfectly with my understanding of my belief, my faith, and therefore with the world. In this case, purgatory, and the causative effect of praying for the release of the souls there, their release to paradise, to heaven. I say it makes sense, and I mean to say it cannot make other than sense.

I cannot know but I expect that this vision was a gift of God through the intercession of Mary. I have always been rather keen on prayers for the souls of purgatory, it’s true. But, as amazing as any of this might seem, it is simply perfectly in accord with Grace. I praise God in the morning, at night, and whenever I have the sense to do so. That he would grant me this vision has very little to do with anything pertaining to me, except to say, thanks be to God. I praise you and your generosity to me. really, I don’t know why you bother. I am a terrible sinner, a reclamation project in the first degree (or second I suppose).

How does one reward kindness but with thanks. Pure and simple.

A couple more items.

I am no prophet. Not one of the visions or scenes I have seen, whether asleep or awake, are anything but confirmation of well-held principles. I have nothing to add. I have no news. I am not directed or “spoken” too. If anything, as the previous dream I wrote about indicates, it certainly does not fall to me to see God. It falls to him, to his rather over-the-top mercy and generosity (if I may be so bold) to opt to assign or present – or withhold - this or that idea or vision to this or that person. I mean to say, from whom else would such things occur?

One more thing, and this I say for the elucidation of anyone who thinks that such events or visions are only experienced by one or another category of the “faithful.” Well, I am faithful inasmuch as I believe with all my heart and soul, true. As to the facts of how I comport myself on the temporal political moralities of this life and time, brothers and sisters, do note. I voted yet again in 2012 for Barack Obama; I support choice and life; I have no clue why one should object to contraceptives; I am adamantly in favor of gay marriage; I feel as restored serving breakfast amongst a squad of protestants as almost anything else I do (short of Communion, of course). My wife is a burgeoning Quaker, or Friend; my son is a wonderful young man. I tell him what I know, from time to time, and make no demands. Period.

What else. I drink more than I probably should, on occasion. I’ve been known to say the word “Fuck.” I smoke the occasional cigarette. I like the band AC/DC.

Bless the Lord, for keeping; say Bless the Lord, for life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post-Election Non-Elective: Praise

O lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

To mention a few items.

The church is in the heart of those who love God whether they proclaim that love or in their injuries lament their loss. It will not fail that the Lord will hear their cries and complaints.

One course is to confess belief in God's love,in trust, to love God, to empty oneself. I am more capable of giving even as I do not exist as I once assumed I existed. I do not not exist, but I do not pertain in my existence except to say I love.

Because all is from God, I have no fear except that others might fall or fail numb to his hand, blunted to the word.

To serve. Take your opportunities or make them. It could not be simpler, and your audience is immediately present. You say THIS and it always was so. But now I see and do. Ah. So is service. There is no shame in service. There is no glory except in service.

I cannot simply dispel your fear, your doubt. But I say yes and you just might forget yourself. Praise God.

I vote choice for I cannot fail to allow others choice, even as I praise life. I vote inclusion beyond every imagined theory of inclusiveness, for I am mere flesh, incapable of more; I am sad and sorry and unprepared to list ALL. And so I say yes, as instructed, to do what I can.

I do what I can, and I say yes.

I say, and I vote, a conscience that, having been tutored by the Spirit to love God, surely can be trusted to pull the plow of politics in the United States of America in 2012 which at worst can be likened to ants at the picnic of the feast and at best is a best, shadowed intention of the self-same YES.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

See to Say


Thou art thou, thus I am I; but time is time.


I had a vision, I admit or confess reluctantly, very reluctantly, which occurred while resting in bed one evening and has not diminished as dreams diminish or evolve.

 
I saw a path leading to a white throne. The throne was white, as ivory. The throne featured ornament in the shape of horns and flowers emanating from it. To either side of the path were six lambs on both sides of the path, 12 in all, not facing the throne directly, but inclined at about a 45 degree angle.


Beneath the path and spreading out on all sides, or at least to the right and left, seemingly circular, at something like a foot or two beneath the path and the lambs and the throne, was a pool of emerald green, which I understood to be water, but was perfectly calm. At a distance of some 100 feet or so, perhaps a bit closer, or farther, was a strange, dark woods. Like the edge of a forest but made of stone. There were no gaps. The trees were uniform in height, say, 15 feet or so, with thick trunks and rich foliage, but impenetrable. Where I looked for space between the trees was a dense, inadmissible wall of rock, like sandstone. The trees themselves featured brown trunks and dark green, absolutely immovable foliage, as if they too were made of stone. They formed an impenetrable wall.
 
 
Overhead was pure blue, seemingly close, but at the same time impossibly far away. I don't know how else to describe it.

 
The throne – and I have thought about this for a few days now, hoping to understand my impression – was empty to me eyes, though I am certain it was not empty, in fact, in impression. I cannot offer any other description – however the throne was not empty, and I am at a loss to describe the form or nature of presence, either by which the throne itself was invested or occupied.


I will say this, as I am compelled to say this at the moment of this writing, to say, to write and say as one whose head is bowed, forgive me, that I believe that the Lord, impossible to my eyes, resided there. I cannot say other, for the throne was apparent in all its details but most certainly was not empty. No, I am sure of that. No. Like the word “love” bearing on the lips of a lover, the Lord was there, impossible to my poor, blighted vision, but perfect to the lambs of the old and the new covenant who were facing the throne, though obliquely, perhaps out of deference.


I cannot say. I do not understand why I of all people should be granted anything other than time and place to breathe and care for something more.


But so, the waters of life underlie us all, even to the new and the old life, under the forebearance of lambs; and so the world and its nature – the woods of stone - bear upon us, and shield us, yes, it must be confessed, for we are so very slight, a whisper in the chorus of praise, who have eyes to see and a mind to listen to ourselves. I too have a mind, a heart that turns and, not knowing, without seeing, believes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Catching up to Say

Ah, GodBox needs some attention to form and appearance. When I can, I will do what I can to improve it. For now various points or observations.

I want to be merely practical, but you do not give me time to waste in that manner. Instead I think realistically, of you. So I am stripped of projects and opinions. It is fairly amazing and even amusing, because we know ourselves at least enough to know to humor and relief in being present in love.

Every day offers risks but no loss that I am aware of. I lose nothing I seek to recover. I know I am growing older, drawing closer to our appointment. Thinking this way, how do I begin to discuss politics, except to say, I love. This is your instruction.

We have prayers, such as in the Office, where we thank you in the morning, we ask for understanding in the evening. We are instructed to pray always. I hope I do so in my love for you and in being open. Open, to what another person says or does; for them to be read as what is said or done in itself, read with care, both the so-called good & bad and everything in between. I hope I am fair, and myself. For I almost never shut up or stop doing things. I would be a terrible monk. Terrible. And as to reading, I can't even read Genesis at church without almost failing to get the words out. I withhold wishing that I should be steadier or what have you, because I cannot afford to doubt your gifts, not for a moment, and I would rather fail or dismay or disappoint in your name, in passion, than succeed in mine, though as you know people are so very kind, praise be.

I do love the Office. Thank you for your gift in prompting the church to make it available to all. I can hardly express what it means.

This writing (and this blog) will surely not devolve into confession or complaint, as you have provided an avenue, for which I again - not to be redundant - offer thanks. I have found a form for reconciliation speaking plainly about my struggles and praying for mercy in plain words, which I believe is pleasing to you. Certainly, you strengthen me. I take that as proof I do not fail you.

As in all things, at all moments, I stand ready for instruction or promptings. This is one way of saying that I recognize that you are in all things, in the movement from then to now, from here to there. If I were anything but alive I would have a definite opinion or position I suppose (!)

But you have placed us in a kind of boundless river, albeit one with a definite source and clear and positive end. Elsewise is the earth, and space; time and the movement of love, sleep, and love.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Praise be to Praise

Praise be.

I own me and I will survive.

I am now and I am speaking.

In all time, say I, and I will be. Be saying I.

That takes care of time, who was waiting for just such a moment. Time of the tremendous patience, provided this and that. Time and the tapping feet.

But you are time, or the hand that holds time, not outward as if for one to gaze at, but palm down, sheltering time. The heat into your hand, or is it vice versa.

I walk into these pages having thought all week long of practical themes (ownership of conscience). Now look at me.

For the moment truth, like I own the flame.

For weeks concern, as if I stop.

You are exactly like a friend I once had, that feeling of the face at a distance within oneself, only you are now, as now, my future presence in exact relation to this perfect now.

Praise.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?

- Psalm 15


For all the politics, the politics of start. For doubt the position of new. For sorrow the placard of now. For governance a set of raw teeth.

For new information nickels for the slot. For speaking a bran new set of cards. Poems like houses on a suburban street, many with titles like family names.

For old causes new causes. For time, speech. Anxiety, sleep. Truth, paper into paper.

Out of the misery a series of inventions of parts calibrated to transmit meaning from eye to eye. Just in the way of a dog to its bowl, moisture forming clouds.
 
For transmission, sleep. For love, wheels in fading sunlight, but somehow brighter for fading, more pointed in the way of spoke and exposed metal. Paint for the brush. Wind for sails at sea.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Camp and Starlight, praise


Give victory to the king, O Lord,
Give answer on the day we call.

                             - Psalm 20

 
Sing praise and act to praise. Praise with tongue. Praise with hands. Praise with tongue and eyes and hands and feet. Praise He and His works. Praise She. Praise She and Her works. Praise all and praise with eyes and hands and feet. Fall to praise and rise. Act to praise and fail to praise, and rise. Call to praise and seek to praise.

Sing for singing and praise for praising. Do not be obtuse. Ask yourself to praise. Speak and remember to speak. Visit foreign and local sites and praise. Build fires. Wash dishes. Research varieties of insect and praise.
 
Act not to be remembered and praise. See your way clear and praise. Email colleagues and family and praise, computer-praise and mountaintop, crop field burnt and praise.

Some physical activity, a lunch date, buying school supplies, praise. I am no more alone than ever, I am no more aware than I ever was. The grain of the wood if anything somewhat duller under my fingertip. Sing praise.

I cannot be a dream for I am one in your eyes. He, She, they who are not one or the other, They, sing praise. Even the most casual companion, praise. For curling dogs and misfit companions, the soul behind the doubt or hate, praise for light on all, for light and all in light, for all in light and the seasons that follow seasons blanketing praise, praise.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

from and toward

How good to sing praise to our God;
how pleasant to give fitting praise.

Psalm 147

 
I choose to begin this post and may ohers with a bit from the Psalms.

God is love, and/while poems come from here and there, today a poem or a blog entry comes first as an indistinct but definite canvas, a snapshot of a familar set of steps as if you would say, I lived there. I was about 5 years old.

In firm ways but varying. My ambition is a kind of ribbon that, really, I should protect lest it get caught in the spokes. But what is that. My ambition is to do and present, then I am done with it. I am not as confident as this approach implies, or you might imagine for me. I doubt myself – or, I doubt – no, I don’t doubt. I do not place faith or hope in this sort of thing except that you are here, and generous with your time. But I am a witness to mental and emotional shadows and lapses, a kind of exhaustion. But I am clear of regrets, so in a week or so I am clear of repercussions. I stick with the plan. My heart is free, my mind is free. I write.

Do poems come from God? Insofar as all is God’s, sure. But no, not in my experience, or that I would allow sufficient to say, Ah, God wrote that, even while I am constantly in his Grace. But as this and that comes from here and there in propitious terms, fine. The work is a choice in love and need. I can say that. I can start from that point, and must, to confess a personal need. A propensity. A charism? I don’t think so. Though for another I would say, write as God loves you and loves that you write, of course. For myself, I cannot turn that corner, even as I am grateful for writing with a feeling that is closely related to the finer gratitudes, for prayer, my faith, for the privilege of prayer for others, for opportunities to serve the needy, the old, the sick at heart.

I think of my son, who exhibits talents or tendencies here and there. So I think about messaging for a life for him that will include the time to pursue where his heart and talent lead him. I think of that.

But for me, now and here (not here and there) my pleasure and the truth of that pleasure is to do what I am doing right now. Allowing the faint but definite picture to come into focus and being. Then I am done. I ask myself if that is arrogance. It may be: there is bound to be some central if latent failing, isn’t there? If not, fine – I will ascribe the grace to God what is God’s. I am a good student in this and other matters.

May God grant me the faith to learn from my own failings in his Holy name.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Now to Say Hello

God
box
the

one
and
one

Development & report. Where to stop or start. God is life, life is God. One and one and one.

I spend days in work and family, in poetry and God. I exercise. I eat and laugh and do laundry. In and out of form, out of mind and in the spirit. Ah. A thought can be a sheet of paper inviting other thoughts.

one
and
say

you
say
God

I am a fresh Catholic, hot off the press. A boy who asked a lot of questions and thought and thought and arrived in part, or let's say he was a reasonable conduit, or a soft-handed provider, or an obliging face in the crowd. Then was I tired, oh boy - I was losing strength, so I made a choice.