Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nunc et Hora Mortis

When I have been taught, when I have learned,
Truly been taught, been silenced so as to learn;
When I have ceased to babble and to quibble
Ceased to quarrel, grouch, gripe, grumble
Ceased to mumble
Ceased to fumble about for words, ceased to frustrate
The prostrate center by the erect mind,
Ceased to demonstrate, remonstrate, illustrate
(As even now I seek to illustrate my own absurd
Illustrations by the multiplication of words)
When, I say, I am silent and learn to turn inward
Out of words, away from myself, and burn with thirst,
With urgent yearning for that which is not I…
In short, when I number my days aright
Then shall I concern myself with two moments only:
And the hour of my death.
For they are the same moment.

The same point of intersection, the same cross
Between the horizontal and the vertical,
Between the point which is my “I” and something
Probably quite dimensionless
Or at any rate beyond all dimension.
Now is the timeless hour of death,
The hourless moment of utter decreasement
To make way for His increase.
The hour of my death, which is His Life
As His death is my life and my life is now no more mine
Since I have been nourished on flesh and blood
Not mine. The only food
The only medicine to do me any good
Is Him. And He is only here and now
Which is everywhere and always.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Sign of Jonah

I have long been anxious of signs.
I have searched for God in sortilege
And tea leaves, and on tarot cards printed
On the pages of my Bible. Clinging
To past and future I have wandered
Lost in darkness following fancy lights.

But the point of intersection was found in Starbucks
In the SM Supermall,
General Santos City,
Milky Way Galaxy,
Mind of God and
Hollow of His Hand.
In a timeless moment within His eye,
I ordered a venti English breakfast tea
Three minutes steeped. Time not specified,
Implied that a barista would know.
But no. And I, foolish I who knew full well
Smell of overbrewed tea, received and paid
Said, “Thank you” and let it steep ten more
Before returning to the now to taste
The waste I had made of that innocent creature.

I know not what power tea leaves have to tell
The mind of God to their foolish fellow creature.
But unlike I, they answer to one only teacher
And praise Him without endyng righteous well.
In Lent our thoughts are turned to death and hell,
Heaven and judgment, and prominently feature
The cup presented in the garden to the wandering preacher
Who claimed to be who He is: (He Who Is)
Who saw, and mourned with sweaty drops of love
That tinted red the earth and washed it clean;
Who drank the bitter cup, the draught not His,
The mortal poison meted, not from above
But from the brewers of tea leaves (though truly we have seen).

Why blame the creature? The tea leaves did no wrong
They never claimed to know the mind of God
And if the brew now tastes of dirty dishwater,
Unmitigated by honey, whose fault is that?
There is still even now, thus, late, a chance for love.

My loins were girt about with khaki shorts
With flip-flops on my feet, and book in hand.
I raised the bitter cup and humbly quaffed
One-ing myself (by invitation) with Him
Who drank the worst I ever brewed for me.

It does no good to sink
Into myself and drink
Nod to Heaven, offer it up,
Toss it back and break the cup.
I must sip, sample, slowly savor
Swirling with my tongue the flavor
Strange, sharp and brown,
The rush to my head and down
Into my stomach the coarse
Tannic acid rudely forc’d,
Rudely overbrewed from innocent leaves
(At which sacrilege all creation grieves).
I must not waste
The moment! I must taste
And see its goodness
In its very rudeness
In its being-what-it-is,
All His and none of mine.
The bitterness divine
In-joys me and I enjoy
That tea like none other.
Blessed be He!