Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! Abbot John Of Forde At Prayer - Poem by Michael Shepherd

All the wonders under heaven and earth
would take more than a lifetime to enumerate –

why then, to be surprised, that One
can speak to such as me,
not in my outer ear, but straight
into my inner ear – nay, right into my soul
his gnosis whispers as it were myself
that spoke it… whispers
such sweet things,
that though they blessedly inform my later words
- as these to you – yet they tremble
in their truth, upon the very edge of words;

whispers such new things to me,
though such things, old to Him,
old, but present; thus, they’re ever new…

for this, I’d waited; waited in the stillness of my heart;
now listened as it were to all
my life explained to me; not, not in judgment,
but in the sweetest grace of friendly intimacy;

and then, when I can no longer hold
Him to me, dare to ask for further news of my true self,
He’s gone…

At first, it was the sweetest pain, His going;
and then one day, I learned as from myself
the way to share with Him, his return journey –
which for Him must be – as must have been – joy beyond all joy;
returning to His Father… so I accompanied Him
with gratitude and praise…

and then I learned, when I accompanied Him
to that place where all inner and all outer meet,
a further, private, holy thing – His Father’s love
for Him… which aforetimes had been but words
that I believed to be beyond man’s mind…

the whisper in my thought, now thunder in the world;
silent thunder in the mind, flashing lightning in the soul;

yet in the silent church, I by the altar there, sounded
near as altar candle’s peaceful flame:
I knew that what men call a mystery,
is daylight truth as visible as mountains or as streams:
that what men read as words, dance off the page
in holy silence, to the heart: the Holy Trinity
was, is now to me, as necessary and inevitable,
as Man and God; as living, now, as God and Man;
as living, now, as Grace.

So John of Forde records for us, by grace of grace itself.


[John of Forde, c.1145 – 1214, is a newly translated witness
to the undivided Church in an age when spirituality,
scholarship, and poetry of speech came together at their height.]


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, November 3, 2007

Poem Edited: Friday, April 22, 2011


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