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Monday, March 17, 2003

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  • Gloria Lee
    ] The Faces at Braga -- David Whyte Psalm 15 Lord, who can be trusted with power, and who may act in your place? Those with a passion for justice, who speak
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 18, 2003
      ] The Faces at Braga -- David Whyte
      Psalm 15
      Lord, who can be trusted with power,
        and who may act in your place?
      Those with a passion for justice,
        who speak the truth from their hearts;
      who have let go of selfish interests
        and grown beyond their own lives;
      who see the wretched as their family
        and the poor as their flesh and blood.
      They alone are impartial
        and worthy of the people's trust.
      Their compassion lights up the whole earth,
        and their kindness endures forever.
      (Translation by Stephen Mitchell)
      Dedicated to and in memory of Rachel Corrie

      The Faces at Braga

      In monastery darkness
      by the light of one flashlight
      the old shrine room waits in silence

      While above the door
      we see the terrible figure,
      fierce eyes demanding, "Will you step through?"

      And the old monk leads us,
      bent back nudging blackness
      prayer beads in the hand that beckons.

      We light the butter lamps
      and bow, eyes blinking in the
      pungent smoke, look up without a word,

      see faces in meditation,
      a hundred faces carved above,
      eye lines wrinkled in the hand held light.

      Such love in solid wood!
      Taken from the hillsides and carved in silence
      they have the vibrant stillness of those who made them.

      Engulfed by the past
      they have been neglected, but through
      smoke and darkness they are like the flowers

      we have seen growing
      through the dust of eroded slopes,
      then slowly opening faces turned toward the mountain.

      Carved in devotion
      their eyes have softened through age
      and their mouths curve through delight of the carvers hand.

      If only our own faces
      would allow the invisible carver's hand
      to bring the deep grain of love to the surface.

      If only we knew
      as the carver knew, how the flaws
      in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

      we would smile, too
      and not need faces immobilized
      by fear and the weight of things undone.

      When we fight with our failing
      we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
      and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.

      And as we fight
      our eyes are hooded with grief
      and our mouths are dry with pain.

      If only we could give ourselves
      to the blows of the carvers hands,
      the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers

      feeding the sea
      where voices meet, praising the features
      of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.

      Our faces would fall away
      until we, growing younger toward death
      every day, would gather all our flaws in celebration

      to merge with them perfectly,
      impossibly, wedded to our essence,
      full of silence from the carver's hands.

       ~David Whyte
      (Where Many Rivers Meet)

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