This weekend I led a retreat just outside of Bardstown, Kentucky. We gathered to work on the idea of learning to read our life stories as "holy text" after the fashion of the medieval Christian practice of Lectio Divina. Lectio is a technique that uses four steps (reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation) to go deeply, prayerfully into scripture when we read it.
We were gathered at Bethany Spring, an extraordinarily peaceful, quiet retreat house one mile down the road from the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani, the monastery where Thomas Merton spent nearly all of his adult life.
Bethany Spring (www.bethanyspring.org/) is operated by the Thomas Merton Institute for Contemplative Living. Bethany's director and guiding spirit is Jonathan Montaldo, former president of the International Thomas Merton Society and editor of several volumes of Merton's journals, including the exquisite Intimate Merton.
As we shared the intimate life stories about events that led each of us to feel broken, Jonathan shared with us a poem he had recently encountered.
It is a particular balm for those who suffer. Here it is:
Mother Wisdom Speaks
Some of you I will hollow out.
I will make you a cave.
I will make you so deep the stars will shine in your darkness.
You will be a bowl.
You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain.
I will hollow you with knives.
I will not do this to make you clean.
I will not do this to make you pure.
You are clean already.
You are pure already.
I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you.
I will do this for the space that you will be.
I will do this because you must be large.
People will find their way through you. A bowl.
People will eat from you and their hunger will not weaken them unto death.
A cup to catch the sacred rain.
My daughter, do not cry. Do not be afraid.
Nothing you need will be lost.
I am shaping you.
I am making you ready.
Light will flow in your hollowing.
You will be filled with light.
Your bone will shine.
The round, open center of you will be radiant.
I will call you Brilliant One.
I will call you Daughter who is wide.
I will call you Transformed.
By Christin Lore Weber