Monasteries of the Heart

Old Monk's Journal

Journal Entry 255

What to do in times of despair and hopelessness? What to do when a dark night of the soul has descended on the nation? When that same darkness has defeated our spirit?

I often turn to a passage that I copied in my commonplace book from the novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The book tells how a clandestine book club helped the residents of the island of Guernsey deal with the German occupation during World War II. Here’s the excerpt:

Journal Entry 254

There is an old Jewish legend that every generation has 36 righteous ones on whose piety the fate of the world depends. One of those pillars, Thich Nhat Hanh, died last week.

Journal Entry 253

Just before the snows threatened to descend, I added 15, mostly three-line, poems to the Poetry Park located across the street from where Sister Mary Miller and I live. It was time for an update because someone donated to us a beautiful brick path that necessitated removing the old asphalt path on which were painted most of the poems that previously adorned our park. 

Journal Entry 252

I’m taking the easy way out on this blog and copying an interview with me that appeared in the most recent issue of The Mount, the bi-annual publication of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. The interview marked the 40th anniversary of the publishing of my book, Peace is Our Calling: Contemporary Monasticism and the Peace Movement. The book is long out of print but is now available as a Kindle ebook.

Journal Entry 251

My friend Mary Miller tells me that every time I get a cancer treatment she puts me in “white light” and imagines the experimental drug as “prayer liquid.” I have received dozens and dozens of notes from people across the country telling me that are naming me in prayer on a daily basis. There is a special cadre of friends praying to Blessed Dorothy Day for a “miracle” that will advance her canonization process. My favorite prayers, though, because God hears them in a special way, are the prayers of the poor.

Journal Entry 250

I’m writing this from the Hillman Cancer Center where I’m participating in another clinical drug test. The first three weeks of the test call for 24- hour monitoring once the infusion is finished. Prior to that, it’s usually four or five hours of blood work, EKGs, more blood work, anti-nausea medicine via an IV, then the hour-long infusion, followed by anti-anxiety medication. So basically, I sit here for 30+ hours—which gives me a long time to feel sorry myself.

Journal Entry 249

Here is a poem for Friday, April 30, the last day of National Poetry Month. Thank you so much for participating in this celebration. I had a good time and hope you did, too.

You remain with me
old wild goose, no matter where
you roam—same autumn night.
--Issa

Do you like this poem? Why or why not? How does it make you feel?
Prompt: Copy Issa’s first line—You remain with me—and see where it leads you

You remain with me: old photograph, favorite poem, dear friend, lost love, blue heron etc.

Journal Entry 248

Here is the poem for Wednesday, April 28. To celebrate National Poetry Month, I am posting a short poem, a question and prompt every other day during the month. Mostly they will be poems by my daily companions, the ancient Japanese and Chinese poets. I will do the prompt myself, either in prose or poetry, and invite you to join.

First snowfall
of cherry petals
starting to scatter—
how hateful, tramping through it
over the pass from Shiga!
--Saigyo

Journal Entry 247

Here is the poem for Monday, April 26. To celebrate National Poetry Month, I am posting a short poem, a question and prompt every other day during the month. Mostly they will be poems by my daily companions, the ancient Japanese and Chinese poets. I will do the prompt myself, either in prose or poetry, and invite you to join.

Living in the mountains
I have grown old,
No longer needing much sleep—
I am always up at dawn
To greet the morning moon.
--Rengetsu

Journal Entry 246

Here is the poem for Saturday, April 24. To celebrate National Poetry Month, I am posting a short poem, a question and prompt every other day during the month. Mostly they will be poems by my daily companions, the ancient Japanese and Chinese poets. I will do the prompt myself, either in prose or poetry, and invite you to join.

One caw of a crow
Tints all of the fallen leaves
A deeper yellow.
--Richard Wright

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