Feb 17, 2018 Seeing…..

HOW – How – how?  Did this occur? I am scrolling down thru my facebook page, when I read each of these two post. Actually the first one I saw was Father Martin speaking about the book by Richard Rohr, it is titled Breathing Underwater, I just recently began a Daily Prayer Meditation; The Examen, which is narrated by Father Martin, I am doing it as my Lent this Spring 2018. In that daily prayer Father Martin is asking us to be mindful where we see God all through the day. So, the book he recommended was of interest to me. I gave pause.
Then…..I continued to scroll….
Passing one post, and the very next one, again. I see the words “Breathing Underwater” now of course, I am caught in full attention. I had just seen those words a few seconds before, I look again to make sure words are the same. They are, are they the same book? No. They are different authors. One Richard Rohr and the other Carol Bialock. One a book, one a poem. I am even more intrigued. My daily meditation has me watching for God, I am sure God is here, asking, offering me to pay attention. I am here recording this – I am sure there is something here for me. I will come back later, as this is not a coincidence. I am amazed, I am blessed. I…..I…..I……. am mystified.

Breathing Underwater

We adult children look at aging and say no thanks, not for me, best to keep a safe distance. But aging is patient, biding its time and confident of its purpose.

From seemingly nowhere, our safe distance collapses and a new truth emerges. This mutative moment haunts Carol Bialock’s magnificent poem “Breathing Underwater,” is an intergenerational elegy to what this inconvenient truth does to all of us…

Breathing Underwater
By Carol Bialock

I built my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you,
not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.
A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Good neighbors.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences,
respectful, keeping our distance
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always the fence of sand our barrier,
always the sand between.
And then one day
(and I still don’t know how it happened)
The sea came.
Without warning.
Without welcome even.
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight, and I thought of drowning, and I thought of death.
But while I thought, the sea crept higher till it reached my door.
And I knew that there was neither flight nor death nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling you stop being good neighbors,
Well acquainted, friendly from a distance neighbors.
And you give your house for a coral castle
And you learn to breathe under water.




We were happy to welcome the great Franciscan spiritual master Richard Rohr, OFM, and his colleague the publisher James J. Knipper, at America yesterday. Richard doesn’t travel all that much these days (rather, he works at his Center for Contemplation and Action in New Mexico) so it was a rare treat to see him. If you’re not familiar with his amazing work, I’d say start with his amazing book “Breathing Underwater.” Also, you should subscribe to his daily meditations. They’re drawn from his many books, and are a great way to start your day. https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/

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