SEA OF ROSARIES: Black Madonna of The Candlemas

Black Madonna Of The Candlemas ©2018 Alfred Eaker

The Candlemas Procession (Thomas Merton)

Lumen
Ad revelationem gentium.

Look kindly, Jesus, where we come,
New Simeons, to kindle,
Each at Your infant sacrifice his own life’s candle.

And when Your flame turns into many tongues,
See how the One is multiplied, among us, hundreds!
And goes among the humble, and consoles our sinful
kindred.

It is for this we come,
And, kneeling, each receive one flame:
Ad revelationem gentium.

Our lives, like candles, spell this simple symbol:
Weep like our bodily life, sweet work of bees,
Sweeten the world, with your slow sacrifice.
And this shall be our praise:
That by our glad expense, our Father’s will
Burned and consumed us for a parable.

Nor burn we now with brown and smoky flames, but
bright
Until our sacrifice is done,
(By which not we, but You are known)
And then, returning to our Father, one by one,
Give back our lives like wise and waxen lights.

SEA OF ROSARIES: OUR LADY OF THE PILLAR

Our Lady of the Pillar ©2018 Alfred Eaker

Landscape: Wheatfields (Thomas Merton)

Frown there like Cressy or like Agincourt,
You fierce and bearded shocks and sheaves
And shake your grain-spears,
And know no tremor in your vigilant
Your stern array, my summer chevaliers!

Although the wagons,
(Hear how the battle of those wheels,
Worrying the loose wood with their momentary thunder
Leaves us to guess some trestle, there, behind the sycamores.)
Although the empty wagons come,

Rise up, like kings out of the pages of a chronicle
And cry your courage in your golden beards;
For now the summer-time is half-way done,
Gliding to a dramatic crisis
Sure as the deep waters to the sedentary mill.

Arise like kings and prophets from the pages of an
ancient Bible,
And blind us with the burnish of your message in our June:
Then raise your hands and bless us
An depart, like old Melchisedech, and find your
proper Salem.

The slow hours crowd upon us.
Our days slide evenly toward the term of all our liturgy,
And all our weeks are after Pentecost.

Summer divides his garrisons,
Surrenders up his strongest forts,
Strikes all his russet banners one by one.
And while these ancient men of war
Casting us in the teeth with the reproof of their surrender
(By which their fruitfulness is all fulfilled,)
Throw down their arms.

Face we the day when we go up to stake our graces
Against unconquerable God:
Try, with our trivial increase, in that time of harvest
To stem the army of His attributes!

Oh pray us full of marrow, Queen of Heaven,
For those mills, His truth, our glory!
Crown us with alleluias on that day of fight!

(Light falls as fair as lyres, beamy between the branches,
Plays like an angel on the mill-dam, where the lazy stream
Suddenly turns to clouds of song and rain,)
Oh pray us, Lady, full of faith and graces,
Arm us with fruits against that contest and comparison,
Arm us with ripeness for the wagons of our Christ!

SEA OF ROSARIES: BLACK MADONNA OF REGLA (ODE OF THE THEOTOKOS)

Black Madonna of Regla (Ode of the Theotokos) ©2018 Alfred Eaker

Carol (Thomas Merton)

Flocks feed by darkness with a noise of whispers,
In the dry grass of pastures,
And lull the solemn night with their weak bells.

The little towns upon the rocky hills
Look down as meek as children:
Because they have seen come this holy time.

God’s glory, now, is kindled gentler than low candlelight
Under the rafters of a barn:
Eternal Peace is sleeping in the hay,
And Wisdom’s born in secret in a straw-roofed stable.

And O! Make holy music in the stars, you happy angels.
You shepherds, gather on the hill.
Look up, you timid flocks, where the three kings
Are coming through the wintry trees;

While we unnumbered children of the wicked centuries
Come after with our penances and prayers,
And lay them down in the sweet-smelling hay
Beside the wise men’s golden jars.

SEA OF ROSARIES: BLACK MADONNA OF LORETO (THE CANTICLE OF MARY)

Black Madonna of Loreto (The Canticle of Mary) ©2018 Alfred Eaker

The Messenger (Thomas Merton)

There is some sentry at the rim of winter
Fed with the speech the wind makes
In the grand belfries of the sleepless timber.
He understands the lasting strife of tears,
And the way the world is strung;
He waits to warn all life with the tongue of March’s
bugle,
Of the coming of the warrior sun.
When spring has garrisoned up her army of water,
A million grasses leave their tents, and stand in rows
To see their invincible brother.
Mending the winter’s ruins with their laughter,
The flowers go out to their undestructive wars.

Walk in the woods and be witnesses,
You, the best of these poor children.

When Gabriel hit the bright shore of the world,
Yours were the eyes saw some
Star-sandalled stranger walk like lightning down the
air,
The morning the Mother of God
Loved and dreaded the message of an angel.

SEA OF ROSARIES: THE MARRIAGE OF OUR LADY TO ST. JOSEPH

The Marriage of Our Lady to St. Joseph ©2018 Alfred Eaker

A Christmas Card (Thomas Merton)

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brillancy!

Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

SEA OF ROSARIES: Pieta

PIETA (2011) oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker

Death (Thomas Merton)

Where are the merchants and the money-lenders
Whose love sang in the wires between the seaports and the
inland granaries?

Is the old trader any safer than the sailor sent to drown
Crossing the world’s end in a wooden schooner?
Where are the generals who sacked the sunny cities
And burned the cattle and the grain?
Or is the politician any safer in his offices
Than a soldier shot in the eye?

Take time to tremble lest you come without reflection
To feel the furious mercies of my friendship,
(Says death) because I come as quick as intuition.

Cliffs of your hangovers were never half so dizzy as my
infinite abyss:
Flesh cannot wrestle with the waters that ire in the earth,
Nor spirit rest in icy clay!

More than the momentary night of faith, to the lost dead,
Shall be their never-ending midnight:

Yet all my power is conquered by a child’s “Hail Mary”
And all my night forever lightened by one waxen candle!

SEA OF ROSARIES: Our Lady of La Vang (Annunciation)

Our Lady of La Vang © 2018 Alfred Eaker

La Comparsa En Oriente (Thomas Merton)

Drums of the early evening wake
The mountain full of ore, and the canebrake.
Up at Cobre tall tambores call
One who rings gangarias with a nail,
One with feathers for sleeves,
One whose arms are birds,
One with a mouth full of great fires
And lights instead of words.

One with a tobacco leaf hat
Rings his drum like a bell,
And brings the saints of heaven, with claves,
Down from the starlit hill;
A black angel beats an ass’s jaw
And (tick tick) a white the claves
While the sodality of the blessed virgin
Follow after, carrying flowers.

Five angels beating bongos,
Seven saints ringing their bells,
Wear coats made out of paper money
And shoes made out of shells.
They clatter like a box of nickels,
Holding candle towers, on fire:
They whirl these as solemn as wise men,
Paper temples in the air.

Lights fly like birds behind the cane
And shot flies after, but in gourds,
When the comparsa goes off to the plains
With fires in her mouth, but now words:
For ten angels ring gangarias

When the comparsa goes away
With all the mountain people and pilgrims
Dancing down to Camaguey.

The pray for us, Mother of Jesus,
Caridad, Merced,
Queen of Cobre and of the three towers
That watch over Camaguey :
The ten angels are playing gangarias
And the comparsa goes away.

SEA OF ROSARIES: Our Lady of Piat (Nativity)

Our Lady of Piat (Nativity) © 2018 Alfred Eaker

 Advent (Thomas Merton)

Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect! Fly, vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
And disappear.
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your full!

The four white roads make off in silence
Towards the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakeful than the patient hills.

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent,
holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed by starlight.

Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over all our
solemn valleys,
You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Toward the planets’ stately setting,

Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem!

SEA OF ROSARIES: Our Lady Of Aparecida

Our Lady Aparecida ©2018 Alfred Eaker

Aubade: The Annunciation (Thomas Merton)

When the dim light, at Lauds, comes strike her window,
Bellsong falls out of Heaven with a sound of glass.

Prayers fly in the mind like larks,
Thoughts hide in the height like hawks:
And while the country churches tell their blessings to the
distance,
Her slow words move
(Like summer winds the wheat) her innocent love:
Desires glitter in her mind
Like morning stars:

Until her name is suddenly spoken
Like a meteor falling.

She can no longer hear shrill day
Sing in the east,
Nor see the lovely woods begin to toss their manes.
The rivers have begun to sing.
The little clouds shine in the sky like girls:
She has no eyes to see their faces.

Speech of an angel shines in the waters of her thought
like diamonds,
Rides like a sunburst on the hillsides of her heart.

And is brought home like harvests,
Hid in her house, and stored
Like the sweet summer’s riches in our peaceful barns.

But in the world of March outside her dwelling,
The farmers and the planters
Fear to begin their sowing, and its lengthy labor,
Where, on the brown, bare furrows,
The winter wind still croons as dumb as pain.

SEA OF ROSARIES: Annunciation

Annunciation (oil on canvas) © 2011 Alfred Eaker

Annunciation (Thomas Merton)

Ashes of paper, ashes of a world
Wandering, when fire is done:
We argue with the drops of rain!

Until one comes Who walks unseen
Even in elements we have destroyed.
Deeper than any nerve
He enters flesh and bone.
Planting His truth, He puts our substance on.
Air, earth, and rain
Rework the frame that fire has ruined.
What was dead is waiting for His Flame.
Sparks of His Spirit spend their seeds, and hide
To grow like irises, born before summertime.
These blue thinas bud in Israel.

The girl prays by the bare wall
Between the lamp and the chair.
(Framed with an angel in our galleries
She has a richer painted room, sometimes a crown.
Yet seven pillars of obscurity
Build her to Wisdom’s house, and Ark, and Tower.
She is the Secret of another Testament
She owns their manna in her jar.)

Fifteen years old –
The flowers printed on her dress
Cease moving in the middle of her prayer
When God, Who sends the messenger,
Meets His messenger in her Heart.
Her answer, between breath and breath,
Wrings from her innocence our Sacrament!
In her white body God becomes our Bread.

It is her tenderness
Heats the dead world like David on his bed.
Times that were too soon criminal
And never wanted to be normal
Evade the beast that has pursued
You, me and Adam out of Eden’s wood.
Suddenly we find ourselves assembled
Cured and recollected under several green trees.

Her prudence wrestled with the Dove
To hide us in His cloud of steel and silver:
These are the mysteries of her Son.
And here my heart, a purchased outlaw,
Prays in her possession
Until her Jesus makes my heart
Smile like a flower in her blameless hand.