Monasteries of the Heart

Old Monk's Journal: Journal Entry 223

I had the chance to go South for two-weeks recently. I was anxious to see if I could hit a golf ball with one eye. And, yes I can. Life is good. Reading is still a pleasure and I managed half-a-dozen books, mostly on Kindle where the font size can be adjusted. Of course, writing is no problem, at least not an eye problem. Writing, for me, is always a problem of the will and of self-confidence. I did manage these thoughts.


On my shelf
a bowl
shaped by a master potter—
a gift
to hold my ashes

Some days
in order to hear the music
playing inside you,
I must listen
with silent ears.

The monk sits
in her cell
tasting the words
of the holy book
so sweet

The morning star
like a trusted friend
never abandons
the old monk writing love notes
to the dark

Even on vacation
The old monk rises before dawn
to light a lamp
and grasp her beads,
“Divine Mother, mercy.”

Each night I pray
to see like the Japanese poet
who watched
a blossom dropping upward
turn into a butterfly

To write a haiku
takes more
than counting syllables—
for starters, try intimacy
with loss

A deer
on the six-lane highway
too young to leap
the fence, trapped
in the new wilderness

Isabella slips into
the booth beside me
in her Belgium restaurant,
listing savory entrees that fill me
without a single bite.

An ode
to the full moon
is to praise God’s
first command
“let there be light”

It’s pre-dawn. Time
again for the old monk
and a poem
to play “hide and seek”
on a blank page

The childhood sound
that shaped
my life
is the melancholy train tone
passing in the night

Final miracle:
a white owl in a tree
outside my cell
bathed in falling snow
and moonlight

A walk
with solitude
is never lonely,
or so say the saints
and poets

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A blog by Mary Lou Kownacki
A personal journal captures what’s in the heart. Most of my adult life I’ve recorded my notes, brief reflections, poems, reactions to daily events in a journal. It is an ongoing source of monastic formation; the rich and raw material of life that helps shape my Monastery of the Heart. About a year ago, Old Monk began to appear on my journal’s pages. Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, is the Monasteries of the Heart coordinator.

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