Friday, February 19, 2010

Remembering Those Who Have Gone Before Us (Part 1)

In my previous blog post, I mentioned Thomas Merton in passing. Since then, yet another older poem has come to mind. I wrote the following poem to express how important a life can be even when mortality separates life from life to leave an empty space. There are many ways that I am aware of a certain "communion of saints" in which I continue to learn from friends and family who have departed this life. I hope to write more about that in the future. For now, I give you this tribute brought to mind by thoughts of Gethsemani Abbey.

To Thomas Merton

"Father Louis has died."
I meet the words with disbelief.
He accepted my nature and encouraged my vocation.
It feels as though he should still be here,
So news of his death brings a sense of loss.

But it happened in 1968
When the events of a Thousand Years took place.
I was a boy, awakened by violence -
hope slipping away,
And the one who would be my guide to peace
Lay among the dead
transported in a war plane.

"Father Louis has died."
I meet the words with disbelief.
Did he not tell me about solitude
and of the richness found within?
I think I saw him planting an oak,
but that was long ago.

But wait - I know he directed me to the East
And he affirmed my contemplative stirrings...
On second thought, that was after the fact -
it was all after the fact.
Everything happened after the message,
"Father Louis has died."

I meet the words with disbelief.
He is much too present for me to remember
That he is dead.
Sometimes I find myself in a realm
Where Thomas Merton and I are contemporaries
Comparing experiences and hopes.
I learn from his insights;
I am at home with him.
But then comes the disturbing news,
"Father Louis has died."


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