God alone for love alone

 

I wrote this poem of sorts to a contemplative nun I met a number of years ago. She prayed often for me and for my family, and I wanted to thank her, as a layman, for the radical gift of her vowed consecration to Christ. It’s very “Neal” in its language, but if you can get beyond that maybe you can catch at least some sense of the beauty of that state of life I tried to capture. Below the poem is the image I used to pray with before I wrote. It’s of St. Catherine of Siena drinking from the side wound of Christ, painted in the mid-15th century.

Ancilla Domini (Handmaid of the Lord)

God alone, for us alone you live

there, ‘neath those stone vaults

bent, veiled, heart aloft

celestial curtains rip, fall away,

stripped down by love’s pine.

God-revealed for us, to us, in us

by and through your fiery prayer

that burns night and day

up-toward your Bridegroom:

Come! Abide! Remain!

In your gathered hours

outpouring grace, sacred space

where Wisdom at last plays free,

His children all-guileless.

You never do violence, save by love

as your peaceful wills are ever-warring

twixt falling night and rising Day,

conquering death by means of serenest love.

From nuptial chambers — yours! —

leaks divine Fire, O wedded Bride,

out into our fields, far and wide

from whence we draw warmth and light

in the long dark night’s bitter chill.

My sister, for us

stand so near

the Master’s side-torn Flood,

drink deep and

share with us, parched in the midday heat,

the Bridegroom’s Vintage best:

God-crushed, pressed, distilled into

inebriating Blood, spiced Wine

of the ever-blessing, blood-red Vine.

You, my sister, called near

to gather from the Wellspring’s shore

for our salvation you implore:

For us you die —

we who have been called

out into the tilling field

to trade in the market,

to love in the home,

to sweat in the sun

that we might lift earth and sky

worthily, rightly,

daily with, through and in you

unto God Most High.

Deo gratias et gratias tibi.

Amen.

7 comments on “God alone for love alone

  1. nos. says:

    “You never do violence, save by love as your powerful wills are ever warring falling night and rising day, conquering death by means of serenest love.” How many times must I forgive my brother. Both of my cheeks are red and bleeding how many more turnings can I endure LORD . My will is weak , the salt rubbed again and again and again, how do I love the salt rubber LORD how do I say yes to you LORD . How do I look at the devil and say ” where the pepper” … P.B.W.Y. all. Love and joy in your sufferings.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Nos, I am so sorry for your sufferings. Lord, please if it is your will, change the heart of the one who is injuring my brother so grievously and take away this pain with soothing balms of your tendernes for his raw wounds. Father, sustain your son Nos in faith, hope, and trust as he witnesses of your love to his perpetrator. St. Michael, send backup!

  3. nos. says:

    ” J” you are so kind . You are a prayer warrior. I may have given the wrong impression in that I was truly suffering .I’m Greek Irish so I tend to be melodramatic on the one hand and melancholy on the other . I love the fact that you saw a need in your fellow man and pounced on it, your the best kiddo.keep on keepen praying you warrior you.

    • Jennifer says:

      well, I am hugely melodramatic too, so i get it. Half if not more of the stuff here I write I think afterwards, man, that sounded so much more serious than I intended. But, I think we melodramatists have sensitive hearts and when little things hurt us we think it is ridiculous that such a little thing would hurt so much so we pretend to laugh it all off by being over dramatic about little things but really they do hurt and we need big love and big prayers too! Or maybe I’m projecting. Anyway. I’ll keep praying and you keep being talkative and we all should keep not being afraid to be sensitive.(is that even a sentence?) high five, bro.

  4. LP says:

    Dr Tom

    I am going to share your poem with a group of US nuns living here in the UK. I am certain they will appreciate the beauty and love of your words (as did I).

    Dear J and nos

    I love the interplay of your replies to Dr Tom and each other. Sensitivity can be a blessing and a curse, as we all have discovered. Perhaps we can all remember that trampled leaves (eg herbs) can add an extra dimension to God’s mysterious hotpot; their bruised state adds a richness and flavour that would be missing if not “cracked open). Although often hurtful, we can remember that God asks us to share our innermost selves, just as he did (see Fr Tom’s picture).

    God bless us every one, LP

  5. Sherri Paris says:

    Beautiful, Tom!! ☺️☺️

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