Friday, November 10, 2017

listening and entering the dark mysteries...

Today is Sabbath rest time: sleeping late, a trip to the library, staying quiet and feasting after the sun goes down.  Winter is arriving in these parts as a crisp frost, blustery winds, bright sun but no more than 35F greets us all. It is a good day to hunker down and let the past week simmer within for a spell. I read this poem by Denise Levertov, "I Learned That Her Name Was Proverb," this morning.  It continues to call to something in me that I too can't quite name.

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: 

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,
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.

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