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What Is There Beyond Knowing?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thomas Merton at Gethsemani Abbey
with Buddhist monk

Merton write-up from Gethsemani Abbey:

I say in my SparkPage profile statement, "I adore adventure and authentic friendships and seek both out," and I've choreographed another dance which includes both!

A friend and I are driving to Kentucky mid-August where we will rendezvous with 2BMYOWN, cyber SparkFriend-soon-to-become-3D, who is driving from Ohio. The three of us are attending a program at The Merton Institute Retreat Center.

Thomas Merton has been a spiritual guide and one of my teachers for many years....and some of you remember that I attended a reading by Mary Oliver during a prior adventure in my Toyota Dolphin, sitting at the feet of the master. Here's the scoop on the retreat....
Thomas Merton & Mary Oliver: Poets of the Sacred, August 17-19

Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver are unique writers who resonate when they converge on aligning their lives with Wisdom in their poetry's approach to nature and the feminine.

In addition to praying with the monks of Gethsemani, this retreat will celebrate with reflections on Hagia Sophia [Holy Wisdom] as the feminine energies of God (Merton) and Wisdom as living a life of praise within Nature's embrace (Oliver). Participants will discern their need to recover the "unheard feminine voice" within themselves, whether they be man or woman (Karl Stern's The Flight from Woman).

Living in consonance with Wisdom's ways is foundational to experiencing the depths of our core relationships with ourselves, our neighbors, nature and the Source of all relationships, God. Each participant will receive Mary Oliver's latest volume of poetry.

This morning my gift of poetry from Joe at Panhala was a new-to-me Mary Oliver. And of course it is the inspiration of this sharing.

The Abbey of Gethsemani, Thomas Merton's last home


What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me? I can't

turn in any direction
but it's there. I don't mean

the leaves' grip and shine or even the thrush's
silk song, but the far-off

fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven's slowly turning

theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;

or time that's always rushing forward,
or standing still

in the same -- what shall I say --

What I know
I could put into a pack

as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,

important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained

and unexplainable. How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly

to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing

in and out. Life so far doesn't have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.

If there's a temple, I haven't found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.

~ Mary Oliver ~
(New and Selected Poems Volume Two)
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