Category Archives: poetry

The Most Common Occurrence

by Howard Hain

 

Christ lives in the Eucharistic Prayer.

He listens carefully.

The Father listens too.

We listen with Them.

The Holy Spirit speaks.

He speaks a great silence.

He listens to the listeners.

We collectively hear.

God.

Three Persons.

His Entire People.

All Creation.

The Sound of One Breathing.

The Sound of Life.

Communion.

Amen.

 

(Jan/4/18)

Still Life with Nativity

by Howard Hain

 

Can’t keep it neat

Bunched-up cloth

Shifting sand

An avalanche of gifts

Those toward the outside move the most

The trough is fixed in place

The world turns, the Cross stands still” *

Manger, manger, what happened to you?

Sprouted roots

Began life as a tree

…..A table

……….A sawhorse

……………A wagon wheel

Dusty bumpy road

Excitement of a coming feast

Not quite yet

To and fro

Which place is home?

Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem

The land of Cana

A wedding toast

Now a wooden throne

Plenty of wine to go around

The world turns, the Cross stands still” *

Manger, manger, what happened to you?

Sprouted roots

Began life as a tree


 

* this line is a loose paraphrase of the Carthusian motto: “Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis” (The Cross Stands Firm, While The World Turns)

Communion with Saints

by Howard Hain

 

A man named Paul lives in my home.

He’s an excellent house guest.

He never imposes.

He’s never and always alone.

My daughter and I talk of him often.

He brings wisdom to our kitchen table.

I’m not exactly sure when he moved in.

But it wasn’t so long ago.

Before and with him there are others.

Theresa, Francis, Bruno, John…just to name a few.

But Paul for some reason never seems to leave.

The others, they kind of come and go.

Paul on the other hand always hangs around.

But then again, I could say the same about the rest.

Is it cliché to say it’s a mystery?


 

Little Drummer Boys and Girls

by Howard Hain

Yesterday I witnessed a “dress” rehearsal for a live nativity. The cast was made up of first and second graders, and the audience was mostly composed of residents of a retirement home for religious sisters, Franciscans. It was spectacular.

Last week I was at Radio City Music Hall to watch the Rockettes in their “Christmas Spectacular”. It was quite a production.

Sitting in the dark this morning I cannot help but contrast the two.

I also cannot help but relate to the seven-year old who played the part of The Little Drummer Boy.

As that child walked so slowly toward the foot of the altar, where the rehearsal was being staged, I saw my vocation in an entirely different light.

The children were all singing their hearts out, and many of the eighty and ninety year-old sisters were mouthing the words. The boy with the drum didn’t utter a sound. He just kept walking, slowly, extremely slowly toward the altar, every once in a while ever so slightly pretending to tap two tiny sticks upon a toy drum. He was beautifully awkward.

There was no greater spectacle on earth at that very moment. Shall I dare to say, no greater event that heaven or earth has ever known?

For a child was born. We were all being born.

———

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.*



Little Drummer Boy was composed by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone in 1958.


Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

 

A Man Named John

by Howard Hain

A Man Named John

There is a man named John. He was born and raised to be good. He believes that if he is a good person when he dies he will enter heaven. So while here on earth he prepares for death. The result is John lives a simple life. His home is simple. His occupation is not one many would find out of the ordinary. Yet John spends much of his time quietly bettering himself. In short, John is a good man.

It has been a long process. And John knows that his time is coming to an end. He also knows well that the end of his life is not in his own hands. He tells himself again and again “all one can do is prepare.” And prepare is what John has done since birth: He spent his youth lassoing his passions, his middle years harnessing his ego and pride, and his later years in private reflection upon the afterlife—an afterlife in which he hopes and prays he will be permitted to share. But it is his recent days that have been the most difficult. He battles to stop himself from thinking that he has been good and is one of the few who deserves to enter paradise. So each morning, before he rises and meets the day, John prays in bed. He prays in these final days, the days that matter most, for humility. He asks God for nothing but to remain within His glorious will.

Morning after morning John continues to pray. With each day he senses that his preparation is coming closer to an end. He feels his body slipping away and his spirit being freed. He senses he is on the verge of being born into salvation.

One morning as John is praying in bed the door is thrust open. A man and a woman walk into the room. The woman immediately applies a large metal clamp to John’s head. She holds John in place while the man begins to rip John’s body apart. Piece by piece, limb by limb, the man cuts away. The man and woman chat about their weekends as if John were never alive. Piece by piece John is pulled apart. Oblivious to John’s screams, indifferent to his fear, ignorant of his pain, in denial of his life, the man continues to tear away, as if John never breathed nor was ever born—as if dismantling an unwanted couch that won’t fit through the door.

Now what if I told you that John was never born, never lived, never prepared for the afterlife, never ripped into pieces and pulled from his bed. What if I told you that instead of being born John was conceived, instead of living he developed, instead of preparing for the afterlife he prepared for this life? What if I told you that instead of being ripped into pieces and pulled from his bed he was ripped into pieces and torn from the womb?



 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

An Honest Environment

by Howard Hain
four-swifts-with-landscape-sketches-1887(1).jpg!Large

Vincent van Gogh, “Four Swifts With Landscape Sketches”, 1887


If a child is wasteful, what should the parents do?

Give them more?

More toys?

More snacks?

More disposable goodies?

Should they inflate the number and insignificance of what the child already has?

If the child’s room or backyard is full of waste, scattered remnants of “grown-bored-with” toys and doodads, what’s the answer?

Should the parents implement specific and tedious rules detailing what the child should do and not do in order to preserve the cleanliness and neatness of the home and outdoor space?

Should the parents provide the child with even greater means to continue to live so wastefully, with such little appreciation?

Or maybe, just maybe, the answer begins with the child possessing less, less toys, less privilege—especially when the family budget doesn’t allow for them in the first place—wouldn’t that be more beneficial to all involved?

Maybe if the child had only a few but well-loved toys, the child would be less wasteful, less likely to discard them and negatively affect the family environment?

Isn’t it the same with the overall environment? With the care of the earth and its resources?

If we are really serious about the environment, is the answer really man-made laws from “up high” limiting the freedom of individuals and localities? Or would it be better to begin with embracing a liberating reality that would help foster a more natural and organic conservancy?

Put it this way, if the government actually had to balance the budget, I mean really balance it on an annual basis—spending only what it brings in—and they didn’t continue to print more money (especially when the new “currency” is not based on any real asset, but instead out of “thin-air”) don’t you think that spending on the national level would change?

It would have to, period.

And don’t you think that the debate over what we do spend on would tighten up, become quite serious, efficient, and effective? And don’t you think that on the local level it would be the most freeing? For it would create an environment where individuals wouldn’t be handed false paper to purchase false products (designed to be disposable), and then maybe we’d have a commercial reality that is truly sustainable—where we have perhaps fewer items but items we cherish, are grateful to possess, and protect and care for—goods we wouldn’t just throw away.

Would that perhaps change the pollution problem?

Would it perhaps address our reckless use of natural resources?

In short, no “environmentalist” is serious about the environment (and values individual rights and freedom of local choice) if they do not deal with the biggest polluter of all: runaway debt, rising inflation (with concurrent deflation of valued consumer-driven product), and false and perpetually self-emptying currency.

Because without the false means of consumerism, consumerism would have to return whence it came: nonreality.

For imbalanced budgets, large deficit spending, and reckless printing of currency are the most non-organic, the least natural, and most non-locally-supporting factors concerning the health of our rivers, soil, trees, and, quite frankly, ourselves.

So let’s be real. Real as dirt. Let go of the hidden influences, agendas, and political prejudices, and be serious about what is truly causing waste and environmental destruction.

The truthful alternative is certainly refreshing: an unwavering allegiance to God’s most natural law of truth, beauty, and divine efficiency. For while God is certainly exuberant in His abundance and provision, He is never wasteful. He never lies. He never “cooks the books”.

The Creator of the Universe is honesty to the utmost degree. Pure harmony. Pure integrity. Pure accountability. Not a trace of fallacy or fiction.

If you doubt me, well then just ask the local bird. Ask him if he can borrow against bad credit, if he can feed his babes with worms that are printed merely on paper, and if he ever worries about his offspring buying and buying and throwing out and throwing out—or is it precisely his non-inflated natural resources that actually keep his local environment in harmonious check?

It is as long as some bureaucratic bird, puffed up with unrealistic good intentions (and other people’s money) doesn’t come along promising freebies and handing out nests that he and his other fine-feathered friends pay for with bad credit or currency based on a non-existent reality.

In their bird-brained world, thank goodness, that doesn’t happen. No, birds build their nests in reality. And continue to fly high because of it.

We on the other hand have many among us who try to sell us such false narratives and papier-mâché mansions. They also ironically tend to be the ones who “support” the “environment” the most.

For to discuss global warming, sustainability, and carbon credits without discussing the need for balanced budgets and disciplined currency policy is to be either a fool or a liar—both cases are unsustainable.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Posture of Prayer

by Howard Hain
el_greco_st_dominic_in_prayer-1595

El Greco, “St. Dominic Praying”, c. 1588

Sometimes just showing up is all we can do.

To put ourselves in position to pray and worship—at least physically, even if we just cannot seem to get there spiritually—is an act of prayer and worship in itself. And quite often, it is the best we have to offer.

By confessing our aridity through physical obedience alone, we approach God’s altar with humility, for we come to God in our “nothingness”.

The bowing of head, the placement of knees, and the closing of eyes return us to the dark warmth of the womb. It is no coincidence that the posture of prayer and the fetal position bear great semblance.

It is in the womb that we are closest to God, furthest from the corruption of the world, and possess the least of what our “flesh” considers of value—our “brilliant” ideas, our “magnificent” plans, our “heroic” acts—our self-aggrandizement.

It is in the womb that we find ourselves in complete dependence. We receive all we need without knowing, without speaking, without cost.

In that sense, being in the womb is much the same as being in the world—for in the world we are still completely dependent—it is just that without the obvious reminder of the umbilical cord, we so easily forget our total and complete dependence on God, our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Ultimate End.

Hence we find ourselves “knowing,” “telling,” and “paying a price.” When in reality, the only thing that we can somewhat even come close to taking credit for is being physically present to receive His Word, His Wisdom, and His Will. All of which come free of charge, His Son having already paid the price.

———

“Lord, let me place my knees to the earth. Let me feel the foot of the cross against the caps of my knees. Let me close my eyes and bow my head. Let my brow lay upon your bloodied feet. Let me humbly raise my eyes to gaze upon your battered body. Oh my Lord and my God, let your blood and water rain down upon me.”

Amen.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

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I’m Pro-Art

by Howard Hain
DT1554

Paul Cézanne, “Bathers”, 1874-75, (The Met)

I’m Pro Art

In other words:

I’m Pro Truth

In other words:

I’m Pro Beauty

In other words:

I’m Pro Love

In other words:

I’m Pro Creation

In other words:

I’m Pro Life

(Oops, how’d that happen…funny how logic can lead you to such “un-expecting” places.)

(Words do seem to matter—or at least carry some weight—maybe even 7 pounds 8 ounces worth.)

(Before you panic, give it a little, teeny-weeny, infant-sized bit of thought…)

Conclusion:

ProArt (pro-creates) ProLife

ProLife (pre-conceives) ProArt

ProArt (equ=als) ProLife


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paul Cézanne, “Bathers”, 1874–75

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