Still

The changing of the seasons means it’s time for one of Scott Eagan’s poems.  For those of you who are new to the blog, Scott is a member of the Madonna House Community in Combermere, Ontario.  He is what you might call a contemplative farmer.  Scott shares his poems with me, and I’m so pleased to share them with you.  His gentle imagery and heartfelt prose makes me feel like I am in Combermere too, living the simple spirituality of Madonna House and basking in the bounty of God’s creation.

Enjoy this season's window made with words, a glimpse into Scott’s beautiful, prayerful world.

STILL

In the small hours of the morning
on the pillow of night’s awakening
all is still, all suspended.

The singing lake loons quieted
forest’s leaves forgetting to shed dewy tears
all the world so beautifully still.

As I poke my head outside my little tent
a gracious gift covers me
a transient thin treasure.

Just to breathe it in and let it go, breathe it in again…
- creations prayer -
can it be absorbed?

And the day begins.
— Scott Eagan
 Van Gogh,  The Sower with Setting Sun , 1888.

Van Gogh, The Sower with Setting Sun, 1888.

He Also Bled Here

Christ comes to dwell among us.
This earth has borne His imprint and we walk on it.
Each step of ours an adventure in faith, love, hope.
How can we not love this earth upon which He walked?
How can we not get from it the strength that the imprints of His feet left there?
Because, you know, His footsteps are still in its dust,
and His blood is still mixed with it.
— Servant of God Catherine Doherty

This quote was shared with me by Scott Eagan of Madonna House, Combermere, Ontario.

Our Forest Is Burning

This week I would like to publish another poem by Scott Eagan, farmer and poet in residence at Madonna House, Combermere, Ontario, the community of prayer and service established by Servant of God Catherine Doherty.  His poem “Dry Lightning” was inspired by the recent Canadian wildfires, but as I’m sure you will see, the poem resonates with the fires that rage within.

DRY LIGHTNING

The air is charged
overfull with heat and smoke and ash
our forest is burning
beast of a wildfire bearing down
torching the houses, the place where we live
we can only pray for rain.

Try as we may, no tears
it is all consuming, nothing left unscorched
flashes from heaven to earth
and from earth to heaven explode as they meet
thunder rolls round the heart
we watch, we wait, we run
while the flames rage in their course
and inside us, the rains pour.

©2016 Scott Eagan
  Storm on Fire  by Allen n Lehman

Storm on Fire by Allen n Lehman

Then Time Is Always Ours

For the past year or so, I have enjoyed a “creative correspondence” with a gifted poet named Scott Eagan.  I was delighted to discover that Scott lives and farms at Madonna House, the ongoing apostolate of one of my heroes, Servant of God Catherine Doherty.  Within the Madonna House community, Scott lives the simplicity and quiet of the Holy Family of Nazareth.  He works the land, he prays and writes.

Scott’s poems reveal the heart of a farmer, one who is close to the land.  In a time when so many of us are somewhat disconnected from nature, Scott’s poems provide an intimate window into the beauty of rural Canada, the changing seasons, farm animals, wild animals, harvests and crops, sun, moon and stars.  My own world is broadened by the images he shares and his interpretations of life and nature.

As the longest, darkest days of winter approach, and as we wait with both patience and impatience for the birth of our Savior, I wanted to share with you one of Scott’s poems:  “Winter Time.”  If we learn to appreciate the gift of each season, the rhythm of life that God has prescribed, then no time is ever fallow, no season wasted. 

And so before we look forward to spring, may we pay winter our respects, and find in her darkest night the Gift that, like nature herself, can never be rushed – the unity between God and human beings.

Thank you, Scott.

 

Winter Time

 

Times change

what once was our summer

warm sun and rains

almost as if God had smiled on

every solid working day

and every blessed night of rest …

then autumn passed

crimson and gold washed away

by cold, grey rains

through gusty winds ofpassage

and we are left with winter.

 

Our axis has tilted

our face turned north of the sun

almost as if His face has frowned

warm rains become white flakes

cold on the cheek, melting

on our summer passed by

washing across our autumn

now clinging to winter time.

 

Know that if we wait

if we may learn to enjoy frost

the cold and the crystal

the days when our face, low

to the sun’s waning light

- yet a loving face nonetheless -

perceiving the distant possibility of spring

and its rising warm smile to return

then time is always ours.

 

Scott Eagan

November 23, 2015

 Claude Monet,  Grainstacks at Sunset, Snow Effect,  1891

Claude Monet, Grainstacks at Sunset, Snow Effect, 1891

A Definition of Prayer

I like to begin classes on Prayer by asking participants:  “What is prayer?”  I don’t do this to trick them into saying the wrong thing or because I’m fishing for a particular answer.  I do it because I want to hear – and I want them to hear – the variety and the depth of one another's answers.  I have never heard a wrong answer to this question, but I have heard some quite beautiful ones.  They are all based on the genuine experience and the spiritual personalities of the "pray-ers" giving the answers.

One of my favorite “definitions” of prayer was written by Servant of God Catherine Doherty in her typical down-to-earth and straight-to-the-heart style.  It captures both the stillness and the movement of prayer, the way prayer can be both vibrant conversation and quiet being.  As Catherine knew very well, sometimes prayer is just being in a meaningful moment with the One you love.  It is a meeting of two loves.

How can you define prayer, except by saying that it is love? It is love expressed in speech, and love expressed in silence. To put it another way, prayer is the meeting of two loves: the love of God and our love. That’s all there is to prayer.
— Catherine Doherty, "Soul of my Soul: Reflections from a Life of Prayer"
 This is apparently a photo of Catherine in her nursing uniform.  Catherine served as an army nurse on the front lines during the first World War.

This is apparently a photo of Catherine in her nursing uniform.  Catherine served as an army nurse on the front lines during the first World War.