Today’s poem is by John O’Donohue from Conamara Blues published in 2001 by HarperCollens Publishers, Inc. O’Donohue was an Irish priest much loved for his spiritual writings. I was attracted to this book of poetry because of the title. I have visited Ireland three times. I love every place I have been there. But my favorite is the west coast area of Galway and Conamara. The poem chosen for today illustrates a pathway into the Presence.
As always, I encourage you to read the poem slowly and to read it twice.
The Secret of Thereness
And the earth fled to the lowest place.
And the mystery of the breeze,
Arising from nowhere, could be
A return of unrequited memory
Awake at last to a sense of loss,
Stirring up the presences in these fields,
Clutches of thistle roll their purple eyes,
Grasses wave in a trembling whisper,
Profusions of leaf dance slowly
On the low spires of rowan trees;
In fields and walls the granite ones
Never waver from stillness, stones
Who know a life without desire,
Each dwells in its own distance
From night acclaimed by twilight
And day released through dawn.
Utterly focused in their stance,
Stones praise the silence of time.
If you have ever been to Conamara, you have seen those stones “focused in their stance” rising up out of the ground and in their places as part of a wall. They are everywhere. They “never waver in their stillness.” That is the image that calls me back to a spiritual truth that is so easily lost in the hectic pace of the modern world.
It is the “secret of thereness”. I cannot express how important it is to practice stillness, silence, simply being ‘there’. I cannot say that it is only in stillness that we can experience the presence of God, but I can affirm both personally and from the witness of other seekers over the centuries, that if we are still and attentive, the Presence might touch us.
alone not lonely—
solitary with God
by a mountain stream
The haiku was first published in frogpond, vol. 43:1 winter 2020, Haiku Society of America, Inc.
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