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.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Chapter 2 - In the Gap

No one was surprised when wee Georgie vanished. There was a history in his family of menfolk disappearing; uncles, great-uncles and cousins. It was almost as if the otherwise quiet men just sat around with their engines idling until the NASCAR starter tree light flashed green and they were out of there.

George’s story was a little different. He’d been born a "change of life" baby to a youngest daughter. All that math conspired to place him not quite midway between two generations. He shared little in common besides a gene pool with his brother who was eleven years older. George’s nephew was a mere five years younger. Family holiday gatherings were made all the more stressful by George’s mostly futile pleadings to be allowed to sit at the adult table.

A book about George’s childhood might well be titled "In the Gap." Besides being stuck between generations, George was the only member of the family of his generation born in the United States. His folks, his siblings and all the rest of his relatives had been born in Scotland.

In school, while bright enough, he wasn’t quite in the upper echelon of academic performers. He was neither popular nor shunned. George was also just good enough in sports to avoid the shameless taunts of the jocks.

Because of his unremarkable skills, George was often dismissed and sold short. His ability to "get by" became a source of great inner strength. He didn’t need to rely upon the accolades or assurances of anyone else to carry on. So when George took off one late teenage weekend claiming to visit a friend who was away at college and didn’t return there was an initial sense of family concern but not alarm. A quickly sent letter settled the matter in good order.


Idyllic childhood memories
evaporate like morning dew
under the harsh light of learning
truths fin’lly ripe for consumption.
Pray give us strength to withstand pain
inflicted by those not able
to turn from our destructive habits,
falling back on their cruel nature.
When will we gird our souls to halt
transmission of these ancient pains
on innocents now freed to fly
and simply sing their songs to us?

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010


After years of rising at 3:30am, Brother George had refined his sense of sight, allowing him to discern the hour of his rising without the use of an alarm clock or watch. He was always the first to stir despite many brothers who’d lived in Saint Aelred monastery for decades longer. As sexton, it was his responsibility to press the button that set the bells to ringing, calling all to the service of Vigils. (It had been many years since he had to pull on a rope to sound the bells.)

With a twist and a shove, he hoisted himself to an upright position on his sway-backed bed. Bending over he flapped his hands around trying desperately to locate his sandals. It would be a very rude awakening to set foot upon the cold, clay tile without benefit of footwear. With success at hand, he reached for his walking stick and took four measured steps to the wall where the bell button was located.

Brother George coveted his role as sexton, most often during the early morning hours as he roused the other monks from their slumber and called them to their place in the abbey for Vigils – waiting for the light. But what he particularly enjoyed was the extra time it gave him to sit, meditate and write poetry.


Fourteen billion year old molecules
crashing, caroming
randomly becoming
fire, water, earth and air
heading toward this one,
perfect morning
where truth reveals itself,
for just a moment,
to those with ancient eyes.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A piece I came across that moved me...

by Thom Satterlee

Language, he asserted, was a habitus... What

precisely he meant by habitus is not explained,
but the context in which the word is applied to
language would suggest a sense of "clothing... "
— Anne Hudson,
"Wyclif and the English Language"

All morning he read from a thick volume
propped on a stand. He read and he read,
and when he closed his eyes
he continued to read
until the words took off their clothes
and laid them down on a hillside
that vanished whenever a cloud
passed between it and the sun.

All his life Wyclif had wanted this:
The words undressed and he going to them,
a child to a fair, burning to see
if Faith wore her hair in a braid,
whether Why held out its hands, palms up,
and where Simony put his coins
when he stood naked in the light.

But no: Wyclif had gotten it all wrong.
He was not going to see the words.
They were coming toward him
with their arms loaded with robes
stacked so high he couldn’t see their faces.
And before he knew it, invisible hands
began measuring him with ropes
stretched between his wrist and chest,
from his hip down to the ground,
around his waist and around his neck.

The fitting took all day. He tried on
Son and Friend, Scholar, Reformer,
Heretic; he slipped into Priest,
wore also Doctor Evangelicus
and Morning Star. Some robes
hung too loosely; others pinched his neck.

In the end, he had to wear them all
and learn the sadness of being a word –
only one surface to show the world
while he lived underneath the layers
and listened for the barely audible
sound of his own heart beating.

P.S. I'm thinking of introducing you to a new character who
has sprung forth from my heart...a Poet Monk named George.
Tune in on Wednesday to see if he makes an appearance.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010


My dear and wise friend, Christine, over at www.abbeyofthearts.com, has posted an inquiry for her readers. She asks us to name a word for the year. There are many very wonderful answers over there and I encourage you to read them. Here is what I wrote:

"I read your post a few days ago, but didn’t feel the tug of a word right at that moment. However, in the interim, I’ve found the word “authenticity” or, I think, more appropriately, the word found me. It is not an easy word in many ways. It doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue. Upon reflection, that is probably on purpose, just to remind us that we need to work to let our “authenticity” glow."

With light and love,

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