Ben White's Adventures with softened hearts

Month: March 2020

Alas – A Sonnet for the party we will have

Rainy Day Longing

I sat down this morning and looked out my bedroom window to the rainy water of Newton Creek and wished with all the melancholy of the gray day to be rid of this virus. “Alas” was the word for the feeling. Almost all sigh with a hint of french pity in it’s roots. The perfect word wanted more than just disappearance, the fantasy wandered to the sea and a beach party it seems. It felt good to imagine the future. In the wake of the reverie about God knows how many tomorrows from now, I had a longing feeling that landed again on “Alas.” However, giving my heart to words made me feel less alone.

Alas

Could the spring rain but wash this all away
And make a summer feast so full of love
It spills its season’s banks right into May!
And to pandemic’s fear, a jaunty shove,
Or surge of tide to float this out to sea.
Can falling rain replace the falling sky?
And dancing limbs crowd in again so free —
A swirling wash of salty sway and cry
Made loud and bright — bass, treble up to thump,
Feet, knees and necks, lips , breath and lifted hands,
All these abreast in rhythmic wave and bump.
I’d give up lots to get down with that band,
But May will not be long enough to say, “At last!”
So with mournful sigh (with those who mourn) I say, “Alas!”

 

March 28. 2020 — Image and Poem by Ben White

 

You can listen to me read it here

Poolside – a love poem to many moments and a prayer

Poolside

Heat baking up
Through terry cloth towel —
Drying me up as the sun dried me down.
And red-yellow dancers
Amorphously moved
Between the backs of my eyelids and eyes.
Seal slick hair,
Tufting up in the air
As I turned back from fish into boy.
Sometimes so hot
If I lay there too long
I’d roll right back into the pool.
It must be just right
This transforming heat —
A boy body needs fine attention.
And nothing is new
With memories so old —
I still need that warm transformation.

 

You can listen to me read it here

The Sudden Silences — a Friday Sonnet

The actually physiology of your ears might help you pray in silence. I’m intensifying my contemplative prayer practice during Lent and thinking about how to get above, below or behind the chatter of my churning brain. It has to do with hearing the silence for me. It has to do with tuning in to the sound of quiet, listening to my inhale, listening to my exhale, and letting everything I’ve heard lead me to a state of mind and heart in which I know God is very near. I’m not just trying not to think or speak, I’m trying to listen to things I don’t always hear. I need a daily reminder that I can hear more than I hear and see more than I see. I need to make regular contact with the infinite love that propels my life. The meditation can start with what I’m actually hearing. My experience in contemplative prayer is an occasional sudden woosh of quiet in which the Fullness fills me. Only onomatopoeia serves to describe the sudden sound of silence that precedes my most conscious presence to the Presence. If I remember similar sounds of sudden silence it helps me skip through the initial stage of settling I must pass through every time I sit. Here is a poem to honor those sounds and maybe push my readers through whatever stops them from hearing and seeing more than they yet know they can.

The Sudden Silences

The moment when the starlings start to fly
A sudden hush fills ears to empty brims,
As trees spill noisy swarms into the sky,
Now silenced by their million-feathered wind.

The moment when you surface from the wave–
Quick roar and dive replaced by quiet now,
This loud emergence from the barrel’s cave,
When soundless voice of awe suggests you bow.

The moment when the fading ember tone
Of singing bowl’s long resonance goes out,
And I am left with silent thoughts alone
To snuff, so I can hear the Silence shout.

These moments come to mind and ear, thank God,
To aid my aim to trust Thy staff and rod.

 

You can listen to me read it here

Images and poem by Ben White