Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In the flame of the candle unknowable vastness (2001)

by Peter Menkin

God's presence arrives,

listening to the lighted

candle. The flame

communicates the aware

devotion of silence, making

things seen and unseen

prayerful notices. These conversations

continue reverently in the room

where we were on vigil Eastertime.

Those prayers remain still. How soothing it is to listen
to prayer; the Yes, be awake in spirit

and mind

as during the engagement with God
there is room for the fiery envelopment

elicited within and enjoined

to others in a rising embrace

by unknowable vastness. Given

a moment to be aware
of God's presence.

Receive the season

that astounds, despite slowness

of heart. Say "Stay with us..."

At the back of the Church,

at the foot of the Cross in the Cathedral,

by the sacrament in private on the mountain,
in the chapel at noon time,
on the road,

in the light of day,

during work, how it is to recall

the spirit.

Times eternal unending. Here remember:

Others know, too.

When she goes to pray, an intimate
time of life, we know love

embraces us as love embraces her.

On Sunday, first the flame listens
best; later all week the heart be open, love invites

on the road. Feed us, You do
in the breaking of bread.

Take the cup. A moment and minutes that love offers,
this is the sweet enduring spirit.

Continue the ongoing conversation.

This poem has a third revision, and it is a response that is part of the series "Conversations with the Holy Spirit." Written after reading the end of Luke in the New Testament (NSRV), and mostly begun in response to the suggestion "Take a moment to be aware of God's presence," one line requires its own place about the middle of the now shorter work. "First the flame listens;" is the line. I'll make that change.

This makes sense to me because the setting of the poem is the Sunday Church service. The poem is written as a prelude to the coming Sunday, and the reading from Luke is where two apostles are going down towards the village Emmaus, and they come across a stranger who they talk to about a man who was before God, walked with God, was God and Man. They talk about being astounded by the women of their group who were at the tomb of Christ in the early morning. Here they speak of their joy and a promise that is given of something wonderful and mysterious, a spirit that will come among them.

I am reminded of the flame of the candle that is lit by the worshipper in Church, and the prayers of the heart that are burning. Mostly, I attempt to render the experience of the spirit. This is a kind of listening experience that I believe is known to many people.

Here is a line from that book by Luke (24:13-53), "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"

These notes are from the original posting on July 12, 2001. That along with the poems, also posted then on the same board (The Atlantic Monthly Writer's Workshop). Should the reader of this blog wonder how 2001 and poems with notes from them make a journal entry for today, January 23, 2008, understand it takes a while to get around to things. Though this is the season of Epiphany in the Church I attend, I am looking forward to Lent and Easter. Also, afterall, I am also working on poems from as many as 7 years ago. For some reason, I am happy with this particular incarnation in two versions, and the notes about them from 2001.

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