A Poet in Our Midst

 

..

Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit

(Jessica Powers)

1905-1988

 

Jessica Powers, a Discalced Carmelite nun and member of the Carmel of the Mother of God, produced 7 volumes of poetry: The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, The House at Rest, The Lantern Burns, The Place of Splendor, Mountain Sparrow and The Little Alphabet (a book of children's poems), as well as a small collection of Christmas poems,  "Journey to Bethlehem.The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers (published posthumously) was completed shortly before her death. Sister Miriam's poetry has been translated and published in Italy (Luogo di Splendore) and in France (Lieu de Splendeur).

   

To Live with the Spirit

 

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.

It is to keep the vigil of mystery,

earthless and still.

One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,

strange as the wind's will.

 

The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows

turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.

It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,

echo the wounded hart, the mateless dove.

It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow

that emulates the freedom of the sky.

Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;

it has cast down forever from its hand

the compass of the whither and the why.

 

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.

It is becoming love, and like to Him

toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:

fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind's whim.

The soul is all activity, all silence;

and though it surges Godward to its goal,

it holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,

the peace that is the listening of the soul.

 

 

The Pool of God

 

There was nothing in the Virgin's soul

that belonged to the Virgin--

no word, no thought, no image, no intent.

She was a pure, transparent pool reflecting

God, only God.

She held His burnished day; she held His night

of planet-glow or shade inscrutable.

God was her sky and she who mirrored Him

became His firmament.

 

When I so much as turn my thoughts toward her

my spirit is enisled in her repose.

And when I gaze into her selfless depths

an anguish in me grows

to hold such blueness and to hold such fire.

I pray to hollow out my earth and be

filled with these waters of transparency.

I think that one could die of this desire,

seeing oneself dry earth or stubborn sod.

Oh, to become a pure pool like the Virgin,

water that lost the semblances of water

and was a sky like God.

 

 

 

Repairer of Fences

I am alone in the dark, and I am thinking

what darkness would be mine if I could see

the ruin I wrought in every place I wandered

and if I could not be

aware of One who follows after me.

Whom do I love, O God, when I love Thee?

The great Undoer who has torn apart

the walls I built against a human heart,

the Mender who has sewn together the hedges

through which I broke when I went seeking ill,

the Love who follows and forgives me still.

Fumbler and fool that I am, with things around me

and of fragile make like souls, how I am blessed

and to hear behind me footsteps of a Savior!

I sing to the east; I sing to the lighted west:

God is my repairer of fences, turning my paths into rest.

 

Isaiah 58:12 (Douay)

Robin at Dusk

 

I can go starved the whole day long,

draining a stone, eating a husk,

and never hunger till a song

breaks from a robin's throat at dusk.

 

I am reminded only then

how far from day and human speech,

how far from the loud world of men

lies the bright dream I strain to reach.

 

Oh, that a song of mine could burn

the air with beauty so intense,

sung with a robin's unconcern

for any mortal audience!

 

Perhaps I shall learn presently

his secret when the shadows stir,

and I shall make one song and be

aware of but one Listener.

Doxology

 

God fills my being to the brim

with floods of His immensity.

I drown within a drop of Him

whose sea-bed is infinity.

 

The Father's will is everywhere

for chart and chance His precept keep.

There are no beaches to His care

nor cliffs to pluck me from His deep,

 

The Son is never far away from me

for presence is what love compels.

Divinely and incarnately

He draws me where His mercy dwells.

 

And lo, myself am the abode

of Love, the third of the the Triune,

the primal surge and sweep of God

and my eternal claimant soon!

 

Praise to the Father and the Son

and to the Spirit!  May I be,

O Water, Wave, and Tide in One,

Thine animate doxology.

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