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Father Ryan's Poems (89)

2006-09-08 16:38

    The Seen and The Unseen

    Nature is but the outward vestibule Which God has placed before an unseen shrine, The Visible is but a fair, bright vale That winds around the great Invisible; The Finite —— it is nothing but a smile That flashes from the face of Infinite; A smile with shadows on it —— and 'tis sad Men bask beneath the smile, but oft forget The loving Face that very smile conceals. The Changeable is but the broidered robe Enwrapped about the great Unchangeable; The Audible is but an echo, faint, Low whispered from the far Inaudible; This earth is but an humble acolyte A-kneeling on the lowest altar-step Of this creation's temple, at the Mass Of Supernature, just to ring the bell At Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! while the world Prepares its heart for consecration's hour. Nature is but the ever-rustling veil Which God is wearing, like the Carmelite Who hides her face behind her virgin veil To keep it all unseen from mortal eyes, Yet by her vigils and her holy prayers, And ceaseless sacrifices night and day, Shields souls from sin —— and many hearts from harm.

    God hides in nature as a thought doth hide In humbly-sounding words; and as the thought Beats through the lowly word like pulse of heart That giveth life and keepeth life alive, So God, thro' nature, works on ev'ry soul; For nature is His word so strangely writ In heav'n, in all the letters of the stars, Beneath the stars in alphabets of clouds, And on the seas in syllables of waves, And in the earth, on all the leaves of flowers, And on the grasses and the stately trees, And on the rivers and the mournful rocks The word is clearly written; blest are they Who read the word aright —— and understand.

    For God is everywhere —— and He doth find In every atom which His hand hath made A shrine to hide His presence, and reveal His name, love, power, to those who kneel In holy faith upon this bright below And lift their eyes, thro' all this mystery, To catch the vision of the great beyond.

    Yea! nature is His shadow, and how bright Must that face be which such a shadow casts? We walk within it, for "we live and move And have our being" in His ev'rywhere. Why is God shy? Why doth He hide Himself? The tiniest grain of sand on ocean's shore Entemples Him; the fragrance of the rose Folds Him around as blessed incense folds The altars of His Christ yet some will walk Along the temple's wondrous vestibule And look on and admire —— yet enter not To find within the Presence, and the Light Which sheds its rays on all that is without. And nature is His voice; who list may hear His name low-murmured every —— everywhere. In songs of birds, in rustle of the flowers, In swaying of the trees, and on the seas The blue lips of the wavelets tell the ships That come and go, His holy, holy name. The winds, or still or stormy, breathe the same; And some have ears and yet they will not hear The soundless voice re-echoed everywhere; And some have hearts that never are enthrilled By all the grand Hosannahs nature sings. List! Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! without pause Sounds sweetly out of all creation's heart, That hearts with power to love may echo back Their Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! to the hymn.

    Passing AwayLife's Vesper-bells are ringing In the temple of my heart, And yon sunset, sure, is singing "Nunc dimittis —— Now depart!" Ah! the eve is golden-clouded, But to-morrow's sun shall shine On this weary body shrouded; But my soul doth not repine.

    "Let me see the sun descending, I will see his light no more, For my life, this eve, is ending; And to-morrow on the shore That is fair, and white, and golden, I will meet my God; and ye Will forget not all the olden, Happy hours ye spent with me.

    "I am glad that I am going; What a strange and sweet delight Is thro' all my being flowing When I know that, sure, to-night I will pass from earth and meet Him Whom I loved thro' all the years, Who will crown me when I greet Him, And will kiss away my tears.

    "My last sun! haste! hurry westward! In the dark of this to-night My poor soul that hastens rest-ward `With the Lamb' will find the light; Death is coming —— and I hear him, Soft and stealthy cometh he; But I do not believe I fear him, God is now so close to me."

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