The other night, I ran through the neighborhood, just as the sky was entering that lovely stage of cobalt blue... when the clouds were still barely visible. The atmosphere looked wrinkled, as if someone had dropped a veil over the earth.

And against the cobalt sky, I could see the branches of old trees. Black and serpentine, reaching, sprawling, curving, turning in on themselves and outward toward the dome of the heavens. I stopped. My heart beating fast, my mind open, reaching.

I thought of what it is like to learn to love You. Some see it as a path, straight and narrow, simple to follow; growth is a formula from a book, a set of rules. And maybe I see it this way sometimes too. But this night I felt like one of those old trees in Your presence... my heart sometimes dark and serpentine... reaching, sprawling, curving, turning in on itself then outward towards You.

For a long time I stood there, looking up at the branches painted black against the blackening sky. The trees were beautiful, still growing, even as night fell... then I set my feet again to running.

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Sometimes, before dawn, it is like You and I are "this close",
eyes to blinking eyes, lips a bare whisper apart,
I can almost feel your teeth beneath my tongue,
touch the thrumming of your heart.


Then morning rouses me, the moment flees. There comes again
the truth: a sheet of glass, a pane pure and almost imperceptible,
achingly thin, rising up between us...You stand on one side, I lean
on the other, looking, silent.

Still, I raise my finger, tremble, reach. For one brief moment,
I am magic or maybe it is You resurrecting a Cistine sky. We touch,
fingertip to fingertip, a quick light touch defying reality of space
and matter. As if, in that small place, all had turned to
empty air between us.

On my side of the glass, the touch has been
enough. And not enough.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then we shall see face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12) Newer translations are "mirror dimly", but the old image is perfect for this prayer.


Mark's I Just Want God...

LL's Old Stone Church

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If I am a clam buried deep, You are
a clam digger come to find me. By what
genius you discover my whereabouts,
I do not know. Tapping, intuition,
planting your shovel with a quick gesture
and turning over the land...

No matter.

You lift me out of the shifting
sand, give me a shake in the sea.
Crack me open on nearby rocks
and proceed to swallow me. Raw.

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Thank You for this little gift. A given-prayer, found tucked between two nondescript sentences in my journal...


I remember

our walks,

when I was

a child.

On no-moon


there were



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Sometimes I have no words to say to You. My soul is shut up tight like the buds which set in Fall. Set, layer upon layer in a tight knob of overlapping cloaks, against advancing winter. Layer upon layer.

And so I sit, as if upon a barren branch, waiting for words.

The snows play at my edges, the winds toss and howl. The world is full of sound and fury, but my soul is wrapped in darkness, layer upon layer, silent, waiting.

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To Be a Saint

Reading Echoing Silence, and I find this question, posed from Robert Lax to Thomas Merton...

What do you want to be, anyway?

"A good Catholic," says Merton. It's a lame answer, he knows. And Lax does not accept it.

You should say... you want to be a saint.

"I can't be that," says Merton. And knows straightaway that this is cowardice. This is to say, "I am satisfied to save my soul, to keep out of mortal sin, but... I do not want to give up my sins and my attachments."

What do you want to be, anyway? I hear You, ancient Friend, ask the same.

Put the brave words in my mouth... "I want to be a saint."




When I went to the sea, I saw those golden anemones. They were so like me, little ivory tentacles that wave freely when the water washes through. Soft. Inviting. Tingly.

I cannot forget that they clung to the rocks, the sharp, dangerous rocks. And, in this clinging, they found anchor. I feel like the golden anemones... needing anchor in You.

Cling to the Rock, my instinct tells me.

I cling, Dearheart, I do. But it is not the sweet solace of sunbaked creek stones I've known before. No. This clinging makes me mold my softness to Your sharp edges. I must push out all the air bubbles, press fully up against You, kiss my wounds to your salt-slicked surface.

Cling to the Rock and live.