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Seemd to me to be quite compatible with Eliot's religious and poetic sensibilities.

The focus on simplicity is crucial.I think Eliot was searching
for that child-like simplicity. The joy he found with Valerie
seems to reflect some success in that regard. Perhaps Old
Possum's Book of Practical Cats is another reflection of its being
part of whom Eliot was.

Perhaps once the simplicity is apprached, the poetry weakens or is not
needed, for the irritation of complexity diminishes. Hence the
inadequacies of his poem to Valerie, and of The "Cultivation of Christmas Trees".

Cheers,
Peter

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: mikemail 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Sunday, September 17, 2006 11:38 AM
  Subject: Re: Oh dark, dark, dark.


  Thank you Peter for this heartfelt memorial
  Mike
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: Peter Montgomery 
    To: [log in to unmask] 
    Sent: Sunday, September 17, 2006 11:28 AM
    Subject: Fw: Oh dark, dark, dark.


    Abbot Francis Kline died on August 27 after a long illness. A private
    funeral Mass for him was celebrated by his community and family on
    Wednesday, Aug. 30 in the small Abbey Church. Dom Damien Thompson of
    Gethsemani Abbey, Bardstown, Kentucky, presided. The homily was delivered by
    Dom Peter McCarthy of Guadalupe Abbey, Lafayette, Oregon and President of
    the US Region.


    Oh dark, dark, dark.
    They all go into the dark.
    The vacant interstellar spaces - the vacant into the vacant.
    The captains, merchants, bankers, eminent men of letters
    All go into the dark.And we all go with them
    Into the silent funeral.
    I said to my soul, "Be still
    and let the dark come upon you
    which shall be the Darkness of God."

    My friends, the words are T.S. Eliot's but the experience is each our own-to
    come together here-you and I-around the spent and broken body of our son,
    brother, friend, father, Abbot Francis. It is wrenching-death-it is soul
    numbing-it is so deep and vast it stretches the mind out into cavernous
    darkness-and it breaks the human heart. And yet-this morning, among us, his
    family and brothers and friends-this morning-death itself is the Word of God
    written in human flesh-the flesh of our beloved Francis.

    It is a loving and mysterious God decisively taking the pen from Francis's
    hand and finishing his life story. Death is the joining-the wedding-of the
    Word of God with Francis's completed earthly life.

    And of all the Gospel choices for a funeral liturgy-if you hold up this
    particular Gospel passage and place Francis's life next to it, you have two
    prongs of a tuning fork. They literally resonate off one another-they sing
    together.

    At that time Jesus said, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and
    earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the
    learned, you have revealed them to mere children." Matthew 11:25-27.

    Now, Francis was learned. I think he was brilliant (but I may be prejudiced)
    and yes, he could be wise.when he wasn't being exasperating and impossible
    to understand! Which brings me to the point-Francis was the most child-like
    person I've ever known and, if we leave that central fact, we lose him and
    we can't do this lectio together around his body. We'll never understand.

    Isn't it St. Bernard who wrote, "The human h! eart is born old and meant to
    grow ever younger"?

    Francis's heart grew ever younger. His was the heart of a child and because
    of that he was an artist. You see, the artist is born of the child in each
    one of us-Francis taught me that.

    For although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you
    have revealed them to mere children.

    We always lived our monastic lives in different communities. (This was
    probably providential!) So you might say that our friendship was something
    of a road trip, if not a road show, traveling around Novice Directors'
    Meetings, Regional Meetings, and later, General Chapters. And there are so
    very many wonderful and very funny stories. I was embarrassed to discover in
    the last two days that most of you know many of them! So let me just share
    an image from the Sufi tradition. It goes like this:

    God and I?
    That's simple.
    We are like two big people in a very tiny boat
    who are continually, unexpectedly bumping into each other
    and giggling.

    Now, just add a third big person and you have the experience of our road
    trips.

    Francis taught me what friendship is. It is looking out together at a world
    far more beautiful, and funny, and sad, and tender, and fierce, and radiant,
    and larger, and deeper than I ever suspected. He awakened the child in
    me-perhaps to some extent he awakened the child in all of us?

    Yesterday morning I received an email from a loving friend and mentor of
    Francis over many years. Abbot Timothy Kelly could not be here this morning,
    but I want his words to be part of mine:

    There is just this great sense of loss which almost translates into a sense
    of a loss of direction. In the midst of his bleakness that could be rather
    strong sometimes and did make me wonder if he did not have some Irish in
    him, Francis always had a hope that was enviable. Then his artistic sense of
    beauty and proportion which was a burden also gave to life something of that
    dimension of the Eternal. His passing is a real loss and to be selfish a
    loss to me. May he remain in our midst to encourage us and make us laugh.

    The Cistercian Fathers speak of the soul as a mirror--speculum-a lovely and
    radiant image. Well, Francis had this huge soul-mirror inside him which
    could make him at times very awkward, and frustrated, and frustrating! I
    have never before or since ever experienced anyone who could register near
    cosmic boredom in every facial feature no matter how sensitive the occasion
    might be-this could include Regional Meetings and General Chapters! If he
    couldn't find light-beauty, there was hell to pay! And yet.and yet.and this
    is where the child comes in.he could find light-beauty in the most
    surprising places! Francis could find light-beauty even in the Valley of the
    Shadow of Death. I will never forget that unexpected phone call from the
    floor of the day clinic at Sloan-Kettering when he suddenly announced he was
    ending his treatments, and he was coming home to Mepkin to be here with the
    brothers he loved. His voice was so child-like and it was as if he was
    surrounded by light-beauty. That evening when I was attempting to reason
    with him in a more "mature" way, I heard, "Peter, this will be difficult for
    me to say and painful for you to hear, but there is something so utterly
    beautiful in all of this-in each moment of all of this."

    It was another child of the Word, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, reflecting
    on death, who wrote:

    The body is not a prison but an opportunity. We must distinguish between
    being human and human being. We are born human beings. What we must acquire
    is being human. Being human is the essential-the decisive-achievement of a
    human being."

    The Hebrew Scriptures speak of the death and the burial of a person as that
    person being "drawn together to his people." We are his people and here we
    are. Francis has called us to the sharp edge of a deep and painful
    mystery--his broken and surrendered body--lying here at the altar of the
    Eucharist. He draws us to the Light. He draws us together to the Beauty of
    this Eucharist of the Resurrection this morning. And he meets us here
    again-where he will always meet us-here again. And our shared lectio ends
    here. Understanding, perhaps more deeply, those words of the first letter of
    John, "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the
    children of God.

    "Yet so we are."


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