April 13 – Ellen Bass – “The Thing is” — Thomas Merton

“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Thomas Merton

A Birthday Note to My Sister

Good morning, Mary.  I chose this amazing sentence from Thomas Merton for your birthday.   Over the years of your life, your eyes have seen people, young and old, women and men, “all walking around shining like the sun,”  and made the world better each time.

I will call you later on this day of your birthday.

love you

Monday, April 13

Just above is my birthday note to greet  my sister who lives in our home town of Marinette, Wisconsin.  I love this one-line sentence written by Thomas Merton when a young adult near the beginning of his astonishing life as a world famous writer and mystic.   It happens that he died — too young — on my birthday in 1968 while at a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ellen Bass has roots in Philadelphia (b. June 16, 1947) and Boston (Goucher College, Boston University).  A soul friend from Fordham University in New York, sent this poem last week.   “The Thing is” written with what another poet friend would call “flint-hard” word choices.  A strong poem for these hard times.

Have a blest week.

john sj

Today’s Post:  Ellen Bass “The Thing is”

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Ellen Bass


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