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Robert Trabold

Dim dark room – full of mystery

Christmas tree

soft lights – varied colors

gentle yellow – clean white – stronger red – deep blue

a few twinkling ones –

light covered with mystery and silence.

I bath myself in soft light –

silence – quiet.

Beauty touches me – whispering the mysterious –

will not leave me.

I sit in the quiet – dreaming in beauty.

Someone is knocking at the door –

in the soft – gentle loveliness –

mysterious presence – my Beloved –

beautiful – good – more than the soft light of the tree.

He gives me hope – soft light of the tree

penetrates darkness.

My Beloved will not leave me alone in the night – cold.

He calls me to hope – not to lose heart.

Beauty of the lights is stronger than darkness.

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Church of St Thomas, Manhattan

Robert Trabold


Flickering candles decked with greens

church garnished by Christmas wreathes

powerful organ music touches – shakes strong gothic columns

burning incense arises – sweetens the air

light voices of  boys’ choir announce good news.

Stately procession ushers us into the presence of the sacred.

Unveiling the crèche – Mary and Joseph gaze

at the little infant surrounded by straw and animals.

Angels sang in the skies that first night –

choir’s voices now repeat the good news.

Tears come to my eyes – such a longing of hope –

longing for light in a world of darkness – war!

How can we ever end the bullets that wound so many people?

bullets of words – bullets of guns!

Tears fill my eyes again – tears of hope – confidence

my hands are clutching – groping in the darkness

tears fill – touch my whole body.

Clouds of incense surround me with mystery –

mystery of light in darkness.

I sit with my tears – knowing that

my Beloved is present – hidden in the music and song.

He will not leave me along in the night – cold.

I feel the touch of his hands – helping me carry the burden.

My heart feels lighter – warmth – light of the crèche

lifts me – I stand upright.

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Evening Hush

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by Robert Trabold


Gentle summer air – comfortable 

not hot – colors tone down – 

sunshine has gone – I hear 

the final chirps of the birds in the trees. 

Like a cat walking on freshly cut grass – 

stillness descends on all – 

no wind to disturb the calm. 

It was a long day – too many chores – 

aching feet – e-mails – telephone calls 

decisions to be made. 

Welcome relief to sit in the quiet! 

I let it roll over my whole body – 

deep sedative – 

calm takes me over – even my 

feet do not ache so much. 

I look forward to this hour – 

time for a visit. 

Garden’s hush opens up 

an abyss at my center – still point. 

Someone touches me – mystery – otherness. 

No words are spoken – silence 

is the language of God – 

silence – calm – hushed garden – 

usher me into a presence – 

presence of my Beloved. 

Let me rest in this quiet – 

visit – gift – that puts a beautiful 

end to a hectic day. 

Someone is with me – that is all that matters!

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Sounds of Silence

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Sounds of Silence

by Robert Trabold

 I hear waves lapping the shore in the distance –

deep sounds – coming out of eternity.

Cool sea breeze touches my face –

silent – coming from the same eternity.

Endless blue sky says not a word –

hangs over all.

Sounds of waves wash deep within me –

open an abyss at my center.

My slow quiet breathing points to it!

I feel a pain within my whole body –

pains of love – longing – desire.

Abyss takes hold of me –

penetrates my whole core.

Abyss is mystery – darkness – silence –

presence of my Beloved.

My Beloved is knocking at my heart – at my center.

Tears fill my eyes but I can say no words –

I have no words to say!

Sounds of the waves echo my endless longing.

Love – desire – feelings of fire close my throat.

My Beloved is other – transcendent – beyond me –

yet always deep within me –

a presence I have – do not have.

So I can only sit – wait – whisper:

‘For you alone, my soul wants in silence.’


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Sermon about Wisdom – 2011 – Father William Meninger

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Wisdom for all – 2011 – Father William Meninger

It’s that time of year again when we are given the ominous prophetic words concerning the end of the world.  One line especially from the second reading from First Thessalonians has been given an over literal prominence; “We who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with those Christians already dead, in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”  This verse has been recognized for centuries by theologians as fanciful, apocalyptic language certainly not to be taken literally.

About 200 years ago a sincere but misguided preacher insisted it be taken literally and has acquired some considerable following.  Many of them are sincere, many are paranoid, and some use it to exploit gullible Christians for their own financial profit.

Please note that the first reading from the Book of Wisdom contains a beautiful promise.  Wisdom is available to those who seek it.  Wisdom is knowing the will of God and how it is carried out in our personal lives and in the world.  Many early Christians who read First Thessalonians lacked true wisdom.  If Jesus was coming soon then there wasn’t much point in going to work, growing food or getting an education.  So they spend their time waiting to be caught up into the skies. The apostles did this on Ascension Thursday when Jesus ascended into heaven. An angel appeared and said in effect, “Why do you stand here idle, gazing up into the heavens, Jesus will come again in the clouds and glory…meanwhile, get back to work.”  This necessitated the writing of Second Thessalonians in which they were told, once again, to go back to work.

 Wisdom is also prominent in the parable of the wise virgins.  Their wisdom was simply common sense, something we all need.  Julian of Norwich is a veritable font of wisdom, that is, of common sense.  She understood that God is a God of love.  There is no such thing as the wrath of God.  This is a human construct.  God is not a judge, or avenger.  He does not condemn, punish or criticize.  Again, these are all human constructions.  God is a God of compassion and forgiveness and he offers us not blame but pity.

 In Heaven, Julian tells us, even our sins will be to our honor because God will reward us for our repentance.  The greater our sins, the greater is God’s compassion.  This is why Jesus tells us that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 who have no need of repentance.

 Wisdom, common sense, will tell us that if the Triune God is all-powerful, all wise and all loving, then this world which he created in his wisdom out of his love will come to the end for which he created it, namely himself.

 The English Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, expressed this well in a poem called God’s Grandeur.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to greatness, like the ooze of oil

crushed.  Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell:

the soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness, deep down things.

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink, Eastward springs –

Because the Holy Ghost, over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with, ah! bright wings.


So, even though we have spoiled it, the world is always on the brink of a new dawn.  The theological virtue of hope is one of the three ways by which God communicates himself to us.  This is not something he is going to do, he is always doing it.  He is the promise and the fulfillment of the promise.  He is the not — yet and the already — here.  The victory has been won for us we have only to reach out and claim it.  May God grant us the wisdom to do so.

Father William Meninger,

Joel Goldsmith – Practicing the Presence

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Joel Goldsmith – Practicing the Presence

July 1, 2013

While on vacation recently, I began to reread one of Joel Goldsmith’s books entitled “Practicing the Presence”, (1958). I first read Joel’s works almost 25 years ago. I sensed he was speaking truth about meditation and how to experience the Divine in that state. After 20 plus years of contemplative readings and prayer, Joel’s writing has begun to make sense to me.

Joel says that there are two main parts of the journey. The first part is the realization that the Kingdom of God is within all of us. The second part is experiencing the Christ through deep prayer and loving intention to experience the Presence that is always available to us. Joel says that this experience could be a feeling of warmth, a feeling of release, a still quiet voice, or something that touches our heart so that we know we were visited by the Christ. This is only the beginning and is enhanced through increased times of deep silent meditation. Joel indicates that the Christ is not reached by words or thoughts but through hours of silent meditation where we open ourselves to the Christ.

The Christian mystics followed Paul’s advice to “pray without ceasing.” The early mystics indicated that the strength in one’s prayer is in stillness and silence. Jesus also says that we also must pray in secret. Mathew 6:6 indicates that we must enter the inner sanctuary, close the door, and pray where others cannot see us. If we pray in public, the ego is on display which destroys our spiritual integrity. The whole mission of Jesus was about the transformation of one’s personal ego to the ego of Christ. One can experience a more sacred and holy relationship with God if praying in secret.

Continuous inner meditation and reaching toward the center of our being will eventually lead to part 2 above – experiencing the Christ within us. Joel indicates that the degree to which we experience the Christ within us, determines the degree of individual unfoldment. Christ becomes a part of our life – by feeding us, supplying us, enriching us, healing us and bringing us into fullness of life. Joel shares his connection to Christ with all of by being a spiritual conduit that has healed many in the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

Contemplative Outreach, created in the early 1980’s, also uses the principles of meditation to help “practice the Presence”; it is called Centering Prayer and references Mathew 6:6 also as a biblical description of reaching inward through silent contemplation to locate and experience the ever present God.

Tilden Edwards, founder of The Shalem Institute, wrote a book entitled “Living in the Presence: Spiritual Exercises to Open Our Lives to the Awareness of God” in 1987. This book expanded the approaches to opening oneself to the Holy One that dwells within all. These exercises and reflections are envisioned to help anyone to live in the awareness of God. Also, the exercises include breathing, praying with icons or scripture and simple meditation in the silent sacred space, and many more. Joel and Tilden both recognize the indwelling presence, realizing that God can be touched through holy silence and that these simple methods bring forth a transformation that allows the Christ to grow in our hearts.

In conclusion, Joel Goldsmith, one of America’s greatest Christian mystics, indicates that this meditative practice is open to all. “Every person who has known dissatisfaction, incompleteness and frustration will someday learn that there is only one missing link in this entire chain of harmonious living. That is the practice of the presence of God – consciously, daily and hourly, abiding in some great spiritual strength of scripture, and it makes no difference which scripture: Christian, Hebrew, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or Muslim.”

By Phil Stone

2013 The Contemplative Path. Laptop computer.