Various Reflections

Dorothy Day

We have all know the long loneliness
and we have learned that the only solution is love
and that love comes in community.
    -The Long Loneliness

Thomas Merton

I had come very far to find myself in this blind alley:
but the very anguish and helplessness of my position was something to which I rapidly succumbed.
And it was my defeat that was to be the occasion of my rescue.
    -Seven Story Mountain

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I don't see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
    -Thoughts in Solitude

I have found and have known, by Your great mercy,that the love of a man's heart
that is abandoned and broken and poor is most pleasing to You and attracts the gaze of Your pity.

Now I had entered into the everlasting movement of that gravitation which is the very life and spirit of God:
God's own gravitation towards the depths of his own infinite nature, His goodness without end.
And God, that center who is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere, finding me...
And He called out to me from His own immense depths.

So I Stay Near the Door

by Samuel Moor Shoemaker

I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world?
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There's no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,
Crave know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it - - -
So I stay near the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter?
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it - because they have found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him - - -
So I stay near the door.
Go in, great saints, go all the way in?
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics?
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, or sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms,
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful itis.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture a little farther;
But my place seems closer to the opening - - -
So I stay near the door.

There is another reason why I stay there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great, and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia.
And want to get out. "Let me out!" they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled
For the old life, they have seen too much;
Once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving?preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stay near the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply, and stay too long,
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there, too.
Where? Outside the door?
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But?more important for me?
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
For those I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
"I had rather be a door-keeper . . . "
So I stay near the door.

The Hound of Heaven

by Francis Joseph Thompson (1857-1907)

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes, I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unpertrurbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat--and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet--
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside);
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of his approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to dawn, Be sudden; to eve, Be soon;

With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover!
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged His chariot ‘thwart a heaven
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:--
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat--
“Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”

I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
ut still within the little children’s eyes
Seems something, something that replies’
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But, just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
“Come then, ye other children, Nature’s--share
With me” (said I) “Your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine you with caresses,
Wantoning
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
Banqueting
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.”
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one--
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies,
O knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and drooped with--made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine--
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s gray cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak--
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would own me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noised Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet--
“Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenseless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years--
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except itself to mount?
Ah! is must--
Designer infinite!--
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent it s wavering shower I’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, split down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sigthful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess that Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart of life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea.
“And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing,
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught”
(He said),
“And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited--
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms. All which thy child’s
mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”

Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched carressingly?
“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

The Newman Prayer

May God support us all the day long
till the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done -
then in mercy -
may God give us a safe lodging
and a holy rest
and peace at the last.