Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, February 21, 2005

Salt Abbey (Sunday, Feb, 20)

(In the “many fishes” episode of The Voyage
of St. Brendan),
gale force winds blow the
ship off course and .. the sea is whipped up
into towering waves. When the sea had died
down the sea-faring monks see so many fish
in the sea that it frightens them. ... Brendan
says, “This is the Liver Sea. I have read many
wonderful things about it. .. Brendan asks
himself how it is possible that the sea should
feed all these animals and concludes that
God is so great that he can provide for all
these creatures every day. He has parchment
brought to him to record all he sees and
gives orders to heave to; the ship is not to
move until he has finished.

-- Clara Strijbosch, The Seafaring Saint

I am of the tribe of ocean-faring monks
who roam blue deserts in search
of You, writing Your blue wonders down.
Such psaltery is of gospel truths but
yet unknown, revealed wave by wave
from isle to isle in an underwater
majescule, anchored in God’s darker
vaults. Some abbey fathers raised Your
walls by digging down through earth
to water; ours found singing halls
the other way around, reaching sacred
ground upon a dolphin’s back and
then plunging down to basalt floors
a thousand chapel leagues or more.
The old ones disturbed there are first
and last in Your husbandry, ogres
and their gigantessas in consort
of stone truths only moons and
stars exult the full language of. That
ore is what we ferry here, copyists
of brine in brutal brogue, each
line crammed with the hieroglyphs and
griffin-curves which cram the bottom
of all seas, down there in the
greater half of my heart where the wild
ones roam, singing, we, too, are
sirings of God. Each voyage here is
a fat volume of water and its wonders,
on shores too far below.
Read on if you dare to lose your
land legs and dry soul. Come to
know what only water angels dare
to sing in that salt scriptorium
between the narwhal’s ribs at
the bottom of what’s below.


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