Thursday, August 03, 2006

On preparation and entry to contemplative prayer: a Poem...

Welcome to a more personal poem, written at an urban monastery, the study house of Camaldolese Monks. I wrote this poem with the thought of following the preparation and entry into contemplative prayer.

What better time to do so than on retreat in the year 2002 at Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, California (San Francisco's Bay Area). I hope you like this memory of prayer, which appears to be relevant to my prayer life today. I say "appears to be" because every preparation and entry into such prayer is not the same. Yet it is similar enough for the poem to have validity today.

You can find this poem on my personal web page . The page is not complete at this time, still a work in progress. It will contain many poems, some that have not been posted on the web previously.

On Retreat (revise)
by Peter Menkin

I: Preparation

Attend with the ear of your heart
Listen in the silence
at night or daytime
through trials and living.
This Rule brings God, the Lord
closer. Labor of obedience:

Before beginning a goodwork,
pray earnestly.
We are the Lords counted
sons and daughters.
The path offers good gifts,
open your eyes to the light.

Arise from sleep.
The Rule offers the voice
from heaven this day.

II. Prayer of request and confession

So much strife, the world
encroaches and wearies
with wearing. Stains.
Run on with life's light;

I seek this lightness
of being
that darkness and death
not overtake me.
The uncommon call, hear
his voice--do not harden your heart.

Mercy that gives and opens,
says receive these words, so offered.
Learn the fear of the Lord
in everyday living--even a moment in time.

Day star Benedict,
man of God speakingacross
centuries in holy words:
For a man or womanin days journey; arise

my soul and spirit to
join this way.

III. Place of retreat begins its Work

Quiet sounds of the house
reflect the Spirit resting
upon this place:
The birds talk
of here, hear them outside. Yet the quiet
envelopes with support
sinking to the bone.

Peaceful quiet, peaceful sounds.
Drench me arena,
a sanctuary amid
urban sounds: jet overhead,
passing car all these present
yet distant.

The tension of retreat:
subtle, strong, weak, resiliant.
I rest, await renewal again.

IV. Seeking the Lord

There is quiet, no hardsound--strong silence
of solitude and work.
This earthly strength
reveals heaven.Christ's spirit
rests on this place.

V. Waiting on the Spirit

Inner life jangles, twitches,
aware of soothing Spirit.
Waiting.Grace that underlines

Ask for waters
that spring from abundance.

VI. Faith in God begins

Our meditation moves
to contemplation: today
let it be unto me;
so morning prayer starts.
I ponder my desire
for release from earthly pain,
find out about flesh again,

discovering the Spirit
holds other fruits: Wait
on the Lord.

Can one know, glimpse--the great yes
of vastness greater
than mountains and hills.
Creation, all being.
Spark, starburning bright,
the soul groans.

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