I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Carmen Brown’s poetic wisdom on living as a monk in the world:
During a particularly difficult loss in my life, I discovered the path of the contemplative. This dark night of the soul caught me unexpected, unaware—grasping and gasping for relief and answers. Divinely, I met Christine Valters Paintner through her website and later her books. For the first time in my life, I felt home — a place where the expression of my soul found a voice, resonance, and peace. On a dreary winter day, Christine offered a call to return to Him with my whole heart . What happened next can only be explained as God-inspired. As I began to journal, a poem emerged, then an image. While I often journal my prayers, this was different. This was an encounter with the Holy Spirit in which He comforted, taught, and inspired me. Through my deepest aches and sufferings, a birth process began—one of surrender. I learned the truth of 1 Peter 5:10:
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
The qualities that make us contemplatives are the same ones that intensify our sufferings, but also increase our joys.
May joy be given and shared with our whole hearts.
Within my questions,
A revelation of lack,
Floods my soul with lamentations.
This root decay.
Lurking beneath the soil,
Like aphid eggs in winter’s hibernation.
Until the warmth of spring,
Brings back to life the death within the new growth.
Then and only then,
Does the truth appear.
Amid the green exists the brown,
The parasitic suck,
Chokes and destroys the intention,
And perseverance of life.
My God! Oh God!
Trust has become a border shadow,
Ever shifting and moving,
Dependent on surface, circumstance,
No roots of its own.
If I planted a sunflower,
And a daisy grew in its place,
Would I focus on the difference,
And deny its beauty?
Might I yank it out,
And curse its defiance and audacity?
Or would I trust the gift,
Although, not desired, expected?
Could I see its possibility?
My soul’s cry,
Is that I would cup it tenderly,
Within my hands, and–
Behold its creation in solemn surrender to the Creator.
Carmen L. Brown is an assistant professor of English at a community college in Knoxville, TN. Additionally, she is a beholder of all things herbs. This passion led her to create Carmen’s Herbs, Balms and Salves, a small farmer’s market business of organically-crafted herbal skincare focused on the Creator and the awareness of self-nurturing practices. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.