Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Abbott Benedict hunches over his desk,
scribing 73 rules for monks,
beginning with the word,

The Abbess Petunia rolls over,
reclines and dreams the word,

When we grant ourselves holy rest,
wisdom settles on us like dust between breezes.
The stillness that lies between our breaths,
gives our oblate hearts precious time to love.

(poem inspired by photograph provided by Christine Valters Paintner @ abbeyof thearts.com Visit Christine's website and join the Poetry Party every other Monday.)

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Wasn’t time for church yet,
but I knew I needed to be there.
Nearing the heavy wooden doors,
I shook the dirt and dust from my shoes.
Slowly making my way up the aisle,
I stopped and gently bowed at the waist.
Took my usual seat, front row right
so I could lean against the adobe wall.
The cool clay soothing me,
putting me in mind of the dirt
and dust of my soul -
and the life breathed into me long ago.
I come here and feel
connected to the earth,
and to the water
mixed with dirt that put a skin
on this church,
this Body of Christ.
Now through this simple act
of being with my God,
I understand deeply:
He called me here.
I listened, I breathed,
I ate, I drank, I answered,
and that made all the difference.

(dedicated on this special day to Buck - "drink deeply, brother")

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Restless waters summon me
to sit in silence at day’s end.
A grassy shore inviting
stretched out dreaming.

Carried away on swift currents
down river to new places.
Lessons to learn, life to live,
eager to press on.

But the river that called, tested me,
found me lacking and spit me out.
Stumbling on shore, magpies swoop low
screeching, catching a glimpse of this stranger.

Resting now on dry ground, I listen
to the song of earth’s heartbeat.
Notes written during creation
for me to hear today.

My new journey now set, I begin,
walking briskly along the shore.
The river that rejected me
is now my map home.

A traveler appears walking toward me.
Quickly, silently passing one another,
I halt and stare when I recognize
the old man’s face as my own.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

(“It is I, do not be afraid”)

Whose cattle are these
that lowly moan
and feed on tall green grass?
Whose calf that cavorts
with careless
and innocent joy?
Whose geese that swim
the gently flowing river
as an armada?
I do not own them,
but they belong to me
as surely as I to them.
And when I stop

to watch,
and still my breath,
the cattle stop eating,
the calf stands quietly
and the geese stop swimming,
as we slowly bow our heads
to the Holy Presence before each of us.

Ego sum noli timere…

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Sunday, May 18, 2008


When I’m at my desert home,
I can see the tree where God lives.
Rust and copper stain the hills,
watercolored solid stone.

God’s creation pierces my heart,
wordless beauty engenders awe,
causing me to fall on solid ground
to listen closely to earth’s heartbeat.

A measured pace breathes between
my inner and outer God.
Moved to sing the eternal song
imprinted in my soul,
I simply move my feet and dance.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008


Ripped belt loops and frayed jean cuffs,
Sweat-stained shirt and worn hiking boots.
Dust-caked face and calloused hands,
Joy-filled pilgrim on his path.


Friday, May 16, 2008


One of the primary principles of monasticism is leading a balanced life of work and prayer. While on retreat at Christ in the Desert Monastery in Abiquiu, New Mexico last week, I took the opportunity to participate fully in the life of the monks by volunteering to work several days in the monastery giftshop. In prior visits, I have done this and found it to be a wonderful, quiet time to read, write and meditate. This year's experience was also wonderful, but in a different way.

Within walking distance of Christ in the Desert Monastery is a women's monastery called Our Lady of the Desert. One of the nuns from that monastery has taken over responsibilities as manager of all aspects of the giftshop. Any of you who have grown up Catholic can probably already see where I am going. This would not be an experience of quietly sitting, reading, writing and meditating. Sister Kateri put me to work. The following little ditty is in tribute to my tough taskmaster.


Sister Kateri
“Come now, don’t tarry!
Work to be done,
Thy Kingdom come!"

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Thursday, May 15, 2008


Skittering flashes at my feet,
a tumbling jumble of joy unleashed,
chipmonks in their brown-striped habits
lead me to the oak church doors.

Joy without, joy within…

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


"Come, Holy Spirit, Come..."

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Saturday, May 03, 2008


And so, once again, the
desert beckons me. But,
before I go, a deep bow
of gratitude and a tip of
the skullcap to Sister Christine
for pointing me back to a book I
need to take with me to the desert:
Teaching the Dead Bird to Sing
by W. Paul Jones. It's been several years since I read this book, but it is
calling to me once again. As if I had any doubts about this, one quick
glance at the quotations in the front of the book assured this book's
place in my backpack. I share them with you now. May they speak to
you as they spoke to me:

"I would soon go down into the silence."
- Psalm 94:17 (Grail)

"My one companion is darkness."
- Psalm 88:19 (Grail)

"Deep calls to deep..."
- Psalm 42:7

"The soul knows for certain
only that it is hungry."
- Simone Weil, Waiting for God

"The experiences called to mind here
were born in the desert that we must
not leave behind."
- Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

"You called, you shouted,
ans you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my darkness.
You breathed your fragance on me;
I drew in breath and now I pany for you.
I have tasted you, how I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace."
- Augustine, The Confessions

Pray for me, as I pray for you.

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