Although Saturday can be a day to catch up on all sorts of mundane tasks and chores, occasionally I savor the opportunity for a bit of leisurely delving into reflection on something found in one of the many alluring books on my shelves. This morning I returned to Thomas Merton’s Book of Hours, noting that I had not visited with him – or mentioned him here – for quite some time. Rather than quotes from his various texts, Saturday’s entries in Kathleen Deignan’s book of Merton’s writings are all parts of his amazing prose poem, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom).
In a commentary on this text of Merton, Christopher Pramuk, a professor of theology and spirituality at Xavier University, writes the following:
For years I have been haunted by Merton’s prose poem “Hagia Sophia.” The poem seems at once to multiply and silence all questions about God. Rather than succumbing to tired theological categories and preconceptions, it breaks them wide open, making old things new, daring us to imagine and hope again.
See if you agree. (I just quote his beginning here. I believe it is enough for one day.)
There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is the fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.
(I recommend reading this slowly and often, aloud if possible, to catch and feel the beauty and meaning.)