Nada, Nada, Nada

Eminent 20th-century theologian, Jesuit priest Karl Rahner speculated near the end of his life, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist.” Changes and events since his death in 1984 suggest Rahner’s well considered opinion was both prescient and prophetic.

Thus, coming upon a Wallace Stevens poem during a three-session meditation offering at our church delighted me, and simply knocked my socks off! So, for all would-be mystics and fellow contemplative-seekers…

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Frames the profound double entendres surely intended by that great 16th-century Spanish mystic, St Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.


Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens and renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Source: Poetry magazine (1921).

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