warmth; ice

Filling melancholy days

with melancholy tones.

Ice grips the heart

freezing my bones.

I need the warmth

of perfect love–

which only One provides.

But all is silent

a darkness shrouding–

yet a little flame,

well, really an ember

hides amongst the ash.

Motion and movement keeps me alive.

Ice threatens to kill.

If “every thought is a thought of You” then is Your thought of me sustaining my being?

Though melancholic ice

stiffens and nearly extinguishes.

I can’t trust myself

with ice in my veins.

Warmth of the Good, of Love–

a heat felt, though distant.

The image still present,

badly damaged.

Fan the ember

with that which moves all things–

a consuming fire.

 

As the light fades and cold sets in

only the warmth of divine Love

keeps alive

thought not felt or seen–

ever-present.

Even in the melancholic

shroud of a cold heart, blind and unfeeling.

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Flickering flames

igniting other souls

koinonia

cultivating one another.

Divine grace– love the impetus.

 

Displaced from the flames

the wick burns quickly

only a weak heat remains.

Nearly extinguished.

Hope resides in community.

Alone and aloof–

despair sets in.

 

The world breaks our heart

we break our own heart

making them like stone.

God gives affliction and consolation–both His will.

Only the Great Physician

heals and makes the heart like flesh again.

Nurture the flame. Otherwise it will go out.

Becoming a ghost– lost and wandering.

 

Haunting the body

pushing all away–

even love

leaving our heart

cold, solid like

Cocytus perpetually

frozen.

No movement–

only despair

a gnawing at the

back of the mind.

 

Gathered fire

only melts the ice–

the fire of God’s love.

Ghost

Wandering with no direction

running from all the pain

and misguided mistakes.

Roaming in melancholy

twisted.

The knife cannot

cut that which is

guazy and immaterial.

Cannot bleed

the broken, wizened heart.

All the things that made me real

I burned

but I’m not even a flame

roaming the earth.

A cold transparency.

Disquiet wearing away the soul.

Searching and seeking things that cannot make me solid again.

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Lonely soul

in a record shop.

The warm tones

from a spinning pressed vinyl

fills an empty space

like light.

Plastic, cardboard and vinyl

tangible–

a comfort.

He leaves,

a small presence resides inside,

but still walks alone

in silence–

upon the uneven brick path.

Books

Books in a room

on shelves

on the floor

cascading like steps.

Some open

others closed–

torn pages

pages burned

pages missing.

Some books stabbed through.

All the words

of joy, heartache,

loss,

love,

hard-heartedness,

death and life.

Melancholy.

This wonderful life.

This painful, suffering life.

Obscure titles.

Others well known.

All words of this hurting, painful world.

Books on tables

on chairs. Cracked spines–

browning pages–

A room– filled with

pages of his soul.

Canto 33 Purgatory

Anthony Esolen: “The righteousness of Christ covers us like snow upon a dung heap, said Luther, attempting to make sure that human beings would take no credit for righteousness of their own. Dante had no notion that man could earn salvation or, aside from God’s grace, do anything at all meritorious; but with God’s grace, man can and does perform truly noble and righteous deeds, or rather is the instrument through which Christ works his righteousness. So it is that Dante has the happy idea of the river Eunoe, which restores to man his memory of the good he has done. Because of the Incarnation, all things human have been blessed–then why not acts of charity? Properly understood, Eunoe, the last experience in Purgatory, the final touch of healing, both restores the soul to itself and prepares it to look upon its life, which is Christ.”

St. Francis of Assisi called the body Brother Ass. An ass or a donkey is cute, but also horribly stubborn. We want to do whatever is in our will to do. We are stubborn and let our appetite control our actions. It truly is by God’s grace that we love God or anyone else for that matter–including ourselves. To reiterate, it takes Dante the entire misery of traveling through Hell and all of Purgatory to finally weep and repent of his sins. Christ cleanses us and makes us white as snow. He does not wipe us clean like a motherboard of a computer being erased where we have nothing of ourselves left. But our sin is erased and the Good of life is only remembered. We are made like Christ. This is the great hope when we come to the end of ourselves. But, like an ass we can either remain stubborn and choose Hell, or we can turn toward our true Telos–the Good– God Himself. To turn requires much grace.

Canto 33 and 34 Inferno: evil and the dawn

The Inferno has 34 cantos as oppose to 33 like Purgatory and Paradise. It is to complete 100 cantos, but it leaves Hell as a different number of cantos, an imperfect number. Thirty-three being two threes–a highly symbolic number.

In canto 33, Dante meets someone frozen in the ice for his traitorous ways. It is Ser Branca d’Oria who was still alive in Dante’s time. He is confounded that someone alive on earth is in Hell. Virgil explains that his body is alive on earth and possessed by a demon until the body dies, but his soul resides in Hell. Dante is most likely using the idea from the Last Supper when Satan entered Judas Iscariot. His soul was slain, yet his body lived.

I don’t like dealing with demonic things–talking about such things. But most cultures have the idea of the demonic. Sometimes people blame demons on poor decision making, when it was just the persons problematic heart, their love of lesser things. Yet, other times demonic influence could be a factor in certain diabolical scenarios. Nonetheless, the soul dies or shrinks, becomes less, when we go against morals we once held dear. Or by disassociating and ignoring the damage one is doing to another. Can this lead to the death of the soul? Like Voldemort, each time he murdered, his soul was split into many parts, eventually losing his entire being. I do not know the answer, but people, educated and not, talked about and thought about this stuff always and still do.

Now we come to the end. Canto 34.

Satan is encased in ice. He flaps his wings assuring the perpetual freezing of Cocytus, forever frozen. His wings a symbol of freedom, but he is perpetually trapped in ice. His three heads gnawing on the worst traitors: Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius.

Anthony Esolen: At the center of evil there is nothing but a small, hard, cold kernel of self, transcendentally small, a something just this side of emptiness. …That he flaps his wings everlastingly only underscores his impotence. He is the ‘evil worm’ who ‘gnaws a hole in the world.’ For Dante, escape from sin is escape from that tight little hole, to breathe the air of freedom and humanity, and to look upon those vast realms above–realms meant for the fire of love, and therefore also meant for man.”

Dante and Virgil climb down Satan and emerge from the underworld at dawn on Easter morning. And they arrive at the mount of Purgatory, exactly opposite of Calvary, the mount that Christ climbed that we, man (and woman) may climb Purgatory (Esolen commentary).

And so Dante has traveled through the Hell of sin; also his own sin. Emerged weary, yet to climb a mountain. This epic poem is our own story. There is Hell to pay, but God gives those the grace to climb toward Him. It takes a lifetime for most of us, if not all. And sometimes repentance doesn’t even come until the end of Purgatory, in the case of Dante, he finally weeps for his sins in the Earthly Paradise and is washed of his sin in the river of Lethe. The pain of sin gone.