Friday, December 14, 2012

How long we wait, with minds as quiet as time

From the NASA Space Advent Calendar which is HERE.
 A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reported the discovery of a fifth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto on July 11, 2012. The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system. Provisionally designated S/2012 (134340) 1, or P5, the latest moon was detected in nine separate sets of images taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on June 26, 27, and 29, 2012 and July 7 and 9, 2012. This discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five. Pluto is at center, and, counterclockwise, from top left, are its moons Nix, P5 (very small), Hydra, Charon, and P4.
(NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter, SETI Institute)
How long we wait, with minds as quiet as time,
Like sentries on a tower.
How long we watch, by night, like the astronomers.
Heaven, when will we hear you sing,
Arising from our grassy hills,
And say: "The dark is done, and Day
Laughs like a Bridegroom in His tent, the lovely sun,
His tent the sun, His tent the smiling sky!"
How long we wait with minds as dim as ponds
While stars swim slowly homeward in the water of our west!
Heaven, When will we hear you sing? 
How long we listened to the silence of our vineyards
And heard no bird stir in the rising barley.
The stars go home behind the shaggy trees.
Our minds are grey as rivers.
O earth, when will you wake in the green wheat,
And all our cedars sing:
"Bright land, lift up your leafy gates!
You abbey steeple sing with bells!
For look, our Sun rejoices like a dancer
On the rim of our hills."
In the blue west the moon is uttered like the word:
-Thomas Merton, Collected Poems, pp.89-90 


  1. I love the way Merton's poem manages to both quote the psalms, and evoke the style of the psalmist..

    1. I hadn't thought of that, J , but when you think of the life of a monk so steeped in the words and rhythms of the psalms it makes sense.


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