And the secret names
of all we meet who led us deeper
into our labyrinth
of valleys and mountains, twisting valleys
and steeper mountains-
their hidden names are always,
like Proverb, promises:
Rune, Omen, Fable, Parable,
those we meet for only
one crucial moment, gaze to gaze,
or for years Know and don’t recognize
but of whom later a word
sings back to us
as if from high among leaves,
still near beyond sight
drawing us from tree to tree
towards the time and the unknown place
where we shall know
what it is to arrive.
I think of St. Paul's wisdom, "Now we see as through a glass darkly, later we shall see face to face." Or that of the poet Isaiah, "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near... for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways sayeth the Lord." Earlier this week I wrote: "...it feels as if creation is shifting into the darkness. Blessings as we enter into our dark mysteries even as we await the return of the light." Winter is certainly such a season. To which an old friend and colleague replied: "Dark mysteries are deep blessings. As the Tao Te Ching teaches us, "darkness within darkness, the gate to all mystery."
The mystical insights of my tradition affirms both our waiting and arriving. In the poetry of ancient Israel:
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
I have completed the work of autumn: the leaves have been gathered, the storm windows drawn and soon the house will be cleaned. Likewise I have completed 35+ years of ministry: the faithful have been baptized and buried, the bread has been broken and the wine poured, and soon my study will be cleared of robes and books, sacramental tools and decades of written reflections. I have completed the work of autumn for winter is soon to arrive. In poem and prayer, in song and service, it is time now for me to be
still and listen to the dark mysteries.