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Walking Doxology

We went to Vigils (morning common prayer) this morning and I was inspired by the evocative sound of a monk rushing to prayer. And since we are at Conception Abbey and I haven’t posted in a while, I wrote this poem.

View of Conception Abbey, Missouri

The well-thought pace
Of well-placed monks
In cloisters and in choirstalls
Is a doxology of the walk.
Each pacing revelation
Of the Holy Trinity
Each placing an instruction
Of divinity.

When the monk walks deep in thought,
Slowly, gliding gilded silence,
Guiding instance,
Of the nothing-noise
In presence pray.
The monk on surface floats with poise,
Before perception,
Over deep, dark, long waters.
Praise the preposition,
Through ease of Being
Spirit hovering and self-huddled:
The Father.

Monks (and Friars) in thoughtful procession to prayers

When the monk walks as he ought,
In a court’s yard pace
To a field or garden plot
His sandals flip and flop,
Unworthy to untie,
Each leather syllable lost
In the planting
Of the next step trod
Made hallowed in the sod
Made real, rich and rye.
Forward push the toes,
Into the hollow of the former heel
Two steps made one.
In the arched canopy of sole
Echoing the instep,
A spring in His most
Hypostatic twostep, the incarnation:
The Son.

And when the monk walks fraught
Races fraying hem,
To the belfry tower-brick
For fear the mass ring late.
The sound unfolds as fabric
Of a tailor’s stretching gait.
In that unrolling woven linen
Unfurled cotton in a manner
Flapping the ungirded banner
The sound-bow habit-bell
Extended at the inseam,
The ankles his cloth clappers
Passaging the rush:
The Holy Spirit.

God is not constrained
By our present state,
His refrain
With angels at the pearly gate,
Traced in the footprints left
By the monk that was
Now buried
In the cemetery
In a casket given by his time
In a stone given by his name

Benedictine Cemetery by Conception Abbey. The Benedictines here originally came from Switzerland.

One step at a time
One word in a rhyme
To seek God’s face
At our own pace.
Down the holy cobbler’s lane
Stitching leather glued to leather,
Beneath the miller’s weathervane
Grinding wheat through stone to grain
Forever…until something
Really, really new
Will-all, will-all replace.

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