Sunday, December 16, 2012

O night of deepest praise

From the NASA Space Advent Calendar which is HERE.

 The giant elliptical galaxy in the center of this image is the most massive and brightest member of the galaxy cluster Abell 2261. Spanning a little more than one million light-years, the galaxy is about 10 times the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy. The bloated galaxy is a member of an unusual class of galaxies with a diffuse core filled with a fog of starlight. Normally, astronomers would expect to see a concentrated peak of light around a central black hole. The Hubble observations revealed that the galaxy's puffy core, measuring about 10,000 light-years, is the largest yet seen. The observations present a mystery, and studies of this galaxy may provide insight into how black hole behavior may shape the cores of galaxies. The immense gravity of the galaxy warps the light passing by, smearing out the images of background galaxies, as seen by Hubble.
(NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), T. Lauer (NOAO), and the CLASH team)

O night of admiration, full of choirs,
O night of deepest praise,
And darkness full of sweet delight! 
What secret and intrepid Visitor 
Has come to raise us from the dead?
He softly springs the locks of time, our sepulchre,
In the foretold encounter.

-Thomas Merton, "The Dark Encounter", Collected Poems, p. 113'

There is no where in you a paradise that is no place
     and there
You do not enter except without a story.
To enter there is to become unnameable.

Whoever is there is homeless for he has no door
     and no identity
with which to go out and to come in. 

Whoever is nowhere is nobody, and therefore cannot exist
     except as unborn:
No disguise will avail him anything

Such a one is neither lost nor found.

But he who has an address is lost.

They fall, they fall into apartments and are
     securely established!

They find themselves in streets.  They are licensed
To proceed from place to place
They now know their own names
They can name several friends and know
Their own telephones must some time ring.

If all telephones ring at once, if all names are shouted at
     once and
all cars crash at one crossing:
If all cities explode and fly away in dust
Yet identities refuse to be lost.  There is a name and number
     for everyone.

There is a definite place for bodies, there are pigeon holes
     for ashes:
Such security can business buy!

Who would dare to go nameless in so secure a universe?
Yet, to tell the truth, only the nameless are at home in it.

They bear with them in the center of nowhere the unborn
     flower of nothing:
This is the paradise tree.  It must remain unseen until words
     end and arguments are silent.

-Thomas Merton, "The Fall",  In the Dark Before Dawn, pp. 184-185  


  1. "You do not enter except without a story.
    To enter there is to become unnameable"

    To lay aside our story and our given name.. perhaps the aspiration of all contemplatives...

    1. Sometimes, in my imaginings, I can go to those deep places of outer space and in that darkness and immensity, be in a way that I can almost sense this namelessness and freedom from "my story". Last night I looked up at that sky and wondered at the mysterious infinity that is just there, for all to see just by looking up ...

    2. I can strongly empathise with that pull. And space, of course, is silent. Stars and galaxies are born, evolve and die in events so powerful we can hardly begin to grasp them...but it all happens in utter silence..

  2. greetings beth

    2cents !

    i enjoy your advent stuff
    do u wonder if many people looks at it
    i do - i have a poetry page at
    i dont think i get many visitors
    perhaps its more important to post it than
    how many see it -i dont even get complaints now thats bad
    o well so sad bad bad bad its funny funny funny !
    Darkness is good stuff a landscape
    absent of image -------------

    so this


    as a flower
    blooms -

    across the years
    days of noon -

    of the nights array
    the brightness
    of the day -

    Blessings ____________________

    1. I think that you're right, bob - it's more important to post it than to wonder who's reading it and what they think.

      thanks for the poem. nice. I guess I'm a darkness kind of person. and the 2 cents.


2nd Sunday of Advent 2023

Photo by John P. Walsh F rom Alfred Delp S.J.,   Prison Writings , Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2004: “So this Sunday we must again fol...