Fire in the Earth: David Whyte

Rattner-8-Moses-and-the-burning-bush
And we know, when Moses was told,
in the way he was told,
“Take off your shoes!” He grew pale from that simple

reminder of fire in the dusty earth.
He never recovered
his complicated way of loving again

and was free to love in the same way
he felt the fire licking at his heels loved him.
As if the lion earth could roar

and take him in one movement.
Every step he took
from there was carefully placed.

Everything he said mattered as if he knew
the constant witness of the ground
and remembered his own face in the dust

the moment before revelation.
Since then thousands have felt
the same immobile tongue with which he tried to speak.

Like the moment you too saw, for the first time,
your own house turned to ashes.
Everything consumed so the road could open again.

Your entire presence in your eyes
and the world turning slowly
into a single branch of flame.

[David Whyte. River Flow: New & Selected Poems Revised Edition
(Kindle Locations 746-763). Many Rivers Press. Kindle Edition.]

Rattner-11-the-bush-was-burning-with-jire

Living Flame of Love: St. John of the Cross

Fireflies

“Living Flame of Love”

Flame, alive, compelling,
yet tender past all telling,
reaching the secret center of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover,
break the last thread,
wound me and make me whole!

Burn that is for my healing!
Wound of delight past feeling!
Ah, gentle hand whose touch is a caress,
foretaste of heaven conveying
and every debt repaying:
slaying, you give me life for death’s distress.

O lamps of fire bright-burning
with splendid brilliance, turning
deep caverns of my soul to pools of light!
Once shadowed, dim, unknowing,
now their strange new-found glowing
gives warmth and radiance for my Love’s delight.

Ah, gentle and so loving
you wake within me, proving
that you are there in secret, all alone;
your fragrant breathing stills me
your grace, your glory fills me
so tenderly your love becomes my own.

Translated by Marjorie Flower, OCD: “The Poems of St. John of the Cross”

[ Amazing poem from St John of the Cross. I first came across this particular translation in Larry Crabb’s book “Shattered Dreams” more than a decade ago, and loved it then, but think I’m only really beginning to ‘get it’ now, as the ‘flesh’ begins to loosen its hold on me a little as I approach 60!]