Dreams of Hope in Devastation, 2016

There is so much integrity in a God who enters so fully into the entropy of things.
Universes, macro-micro-mini, expand and contract explosively,
the lot of God’s creation.
Not only did the Christ make stunning proposals about life’s meaning,
He lost everything, life, friends, reputation, the comfort of old age.
His Father seemed even to have lost Him.
Nor does the Holy Spirit gain ground getting the lot of humankind
to recognize one another’s worth. She blows where She wills
but we have not warmed to Her directives.
This entrance into entropy endears God to us.
The secret of holiness, the very meaning of life, remains hidden in truth,
wrapped in enigma, engaging, entropic and perduring.
Everything withers, like the rose, like God Themself,
worn weary, weathering our storms of murderous competition.
There is holy wisdom in the eremitical project.
Opting out of the game is a credible answer
To horrific equations posed by experience.
Yet we are still here in the midst losing ourselves, trying so hard.
All things pass, nothing matters in the end, yet everything counts.
How can this be?
The lesson of Jesus:
we are born to give up, give in,
come apart at the seems,
to take up the cross which
beckons to communion with
an all emptying Godhead.
Entropic clarions, booming quietly, beg us not to win
but to loose all our drives into
this one yearning chasm, where,
in the darkness, waiting for us to fall in,
is God,
the all-giving.
Dennis McNally SJ
30 October 2015

Prevailing Present

Bethlehem, near Manger Square,
down a short street filled with tourists
amid shops strewn with olive wood trinkets
and the shavings spread right here on the premises
by artisans working right before our eyes;
it’s the site of the Church of the Milk,
a fabled place where the Virgin Mother
fed the Babe born just hours earlier
in a cave below St. Catherine’s Church.
In a deliriously divine accident a drop of milk fell
onto local limestone, Jerusalem stone, and
whitened it everywhere and forevermore.
Some of our revelations rest on ridiculously precarious mythological platforms,
and yet we believe from Crusader times
that there was a miracle here. The faithful girl fed her God.
Wanting so much to know this deeper truth, we wander
down a long corridor away from the main shrine where,
wonder of wonders, we find a nun behind glass.
She belongs to a contemplative order of perpetual adoration.
She kneels before a monstrance in silence and statuary reverence.
A delicately gilt, monumentally Baroque, German Madonna and Child,
the singular variant focus, cannot compare with the
wondrous woman kneeling there alone, motionless,
encouraging belief and hope.
Blessedly I find that I want to love Him more, too;
moved to faith and hope by her monumental habit in motionless contemplation,
I know that there have always been nuns and monks
whose life’s work, simply to contemplate constantly
God’s goodness, praying in quiet grandeur,
demonstrates that one can love God alone.
This activa in contemplatione confers courage on me, without words, while
in her ineffable response to the great Father Mother Son,
she is something beautiful for God,
her life’s work, without words
praising God, prescient proof
that this is enough.
Dennis McNally SJ
June/December 2015

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