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Apophatic Prayer: a Transcription (2000) by Peter Menkin
by Peter Menkin  
1/18/2009 / Poetry

The unusual poem about Apophatic Prayer is transcription, of sorts, of a talk given by Father Michael at Camaldoli Study House in Berkeley, California USA (Incarnation Monastery). Given during an Oblate's study day, the Benedictine talk on contemplation and the contemplative experience indicates that one may reach for God.

This is a different poem, and this aspiring poet suggests the reader listen to the poem as read by the poet as he or she reads the work. Everyone will not do so, but it does help with the reading.

Here is the link to the audio reading of the poem by the poet:

by Peter Menkin

Invited by God into

a wordless kind

of prayer--Cataphatic is opening

the Bible

and believing

the images of entering

into the wonder of the scene.

The same one invites us

into the apophatic spirituality.

Desert, stripping, pain, addiction.

loneliness. (Aloneness.)

Desert spirituality will be deeper,

and this is one.

Invitation to an all

new spirituality. This is the


Birth at forty.

Forty to eighty.

Eighty to one-hundred twenty.

Moses was offering deliverance. (Acts.)

Settles into what is

the symbolic period

of 40 years~into the future.

After 40 years he was learned to,

as a child,

look at this strange sight,

"Why the bush is not burning."

Look hard in the desert

at 80 years of age of age.

This is a life as a child.

In the Hebrew: ~ I must go across and look.

This is a leaving of where

he was on a life

with the sheep

and have a look

at something


He must leave this security

of the plain to be

confronted with the mystery

How far the Lord wanted Abraham

to go as did Peter

in his early morning

as he waited for Christ. As did

Martha when she organized Christ,

or the Spirit.

Martha learns

something when Lazaraz


God knows when we are

in the desert when he calls

in the desertwhen he calls,

"Where is Moses."

It is in the Holy Fire

of God

when we take off our shoes,

as did Moses.

We do it


in solitude.

The very thing is the presence

of God

waiting for us.

I have heard the suffering

of my people. (Father Michael.)

God liberates Moses,

who in his

brokenness discovers his identity,

and in his~finds his mission.

Contemplation (from male spirituality):trust

in the insecurity of the painful

victoryby putting on the mind

of Christ. "Mercy."

reads an Oblate, "instead of sacrifice.

"went to the desert."

Moses meets God

in the inner Desert

and leads those in slavery


There are two deserts:

The invitation, the inside us

that is the other/Merton calls this

the great self within that is

the God within us. (The ineffable

now of truth.) Entailing

the creator,

we are in failure invited

into another truth,

the abandonment into the word.

For the Oblate (for me),

getting up early,

God very seldom comes as a

gentle invitation.

It comes as an assault on our invitation.

The Gospel only

makes sense

to the poor,

(the weakness of the poverty

of our humanity.)

We are

all struggling with the ideal

of our body, of a woman

and of a man.

The Little Book notates

poverty of spirit-- a Little Book:

New look at spirituality,

new look at being human,

new look at who God is.

The Little Book notates entering into

the dying and stripping

--stripped with everything and just being

left with the now.

A cup of wine becomes sacred.

A desert allows us

to find a meaning (a place)

in the sacred.

Cup of wine

a desert allows

burning bush


This flow is within us

and other people. There

is surrender here.

There is surrender there.

Without doing.

and not going against

the nature of things

we have to go

where we are fed by Christ.

God takes Moses

into the heart of God.

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.

Copyright Peter Menkin

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