Friday, March 6, 2020

touch of life

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, 
a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness.  This mysterious Unity
 and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans
 There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence
 that is a fount of action and joy.  It rises up in wordless gentleness 
and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, 
welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility.  
This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator's
 Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, 
speaking as my sister, Wisdom.

In the cool hand of the nurse there is the touch of all life, the touch of Spirit.

Thus Wisdom cries out to all who will hear (Sapientia clamitat in plateis) 
and she cries out particularly to the little, to the ignorant and the helpless.

Who is more little, who is more poor than the helpless man
 who lies asleep in his bed without awareness and without defense?
 Who is more trusting than he who must entrust himself each night to sleep?
  What is the reward of his trust?  Gentleness comes to him
 when he is most helpless and awakens him, refreshed, 
beginning to be made whole.  Love takes him by the hand, 
and opens to him the doors of another life, another day.

(But he who has defended himself, fought for himself in sickness,
 planned for himself, guarded himself, loved himself alone and watched
 over his own life all night, is killed at last by exhaustion. 
 For him there is no newness.  Everything is stale and old.)

When the helpless one awakens strong at the voice of mercy,
 it is as if Life his Sister, as if the Blessed Virgin, (his own flesh, 
his own sister), as if Nature made wise by God's Art and Incarnation
 were to stand over him and invite him with unutterable sweetness
 to be awake and to live.  This is what it means
 to recognize Hagia Sophia.

~ Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton


erin said...

dean, i begin to wonder what this place is for you. is this a reflection of what is inside or is it a desire for your inside to reflect this outside or is it something else i can not imagine? is it nothing at all and yet everything? (and of course, you need not answer.)

whatever it is, i am grateful for it. such a wealth of references, voices, and bells being wrung.


Dean Keller said...


it's about that which points us toward the mystery, the living beauty, the inexpressible fullness of love that cradles eternally, "the lie that helps us see a truth", "behind the leaves of the peony there is a world still darker, that feeds many"; inside or out I can't say, just the beauty found and shared.

i'm grateful for your curiosity and the longing we share.