Happy World Poetry Day everyone! Today we celebrate this beautiful art form and the creative expression it allows, through either writing it ourselves or responding to poems crafted by others.

Poetry can be straight forward or complicated. Much of its beauty lies in its chameleon-like qualities. The perspective from which its approached can alter the poem’s meaning. The poet carefully selects and structures the poem’s words with the intent of conveying an idea or emotion. These words have the ability to evoke a wide range of responses in the poem’s audience: solace, a voice, companionship, a smile, experiences, an outlet, validation, wisdom, laughter, tears, joy. The poet’s offering is met by the reader’s or listener’s emotions and life experience which inform how the poem is received in the moment it is read or heard.

In honor of World Poetry Day, I went digging into our Creative Works collections for the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Maryknoll Sisters, & Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, as well as A Maryknoll Book of Poetry, and found some lovely poems that touch on silence, the moon, darkness, light, our planet, the eye of a storm, and mission. Take a moment to read through these poems and allow them to be exactly what it is they are for you today. Perhaps they will inspire you to pick up a pen and craft a poem of your own!

The Silence of the Night

The Silence of the night envelopes us
               in a sheath of solitude.
Alone in our thoughts,
Together in our being
               we explore the confines of the mind…
Knowing not the answers
               to unasked questions,
               we drift, onward, unaware
               of the lives surrounding us –
Conscious only that we are there…

~ Margo Cambier
    Former Maryknoll Lay Missioner

Former Maryknoll Lay Missioner Margo Cambier in mission in Tanzania

                                                             – Jn 1:5

I journey from light to light.
The darkness between is silence
        winding itself in snarls
        through opaque fog.

My steps are mired
in unnamed longitudes
of this raddled silence.
I seek a way to move on.

Then the ineffable softly strokes
the taut strings of my soul.
I move forward in trust.

At some unpredictable point
a Word breaks open that
web of dark silence.
Scrims of lambent fog thin,
swiftly blow off.
Light lays open horizons.

That desired Mystery beyond
nears now – revealing itself,
hiding itself by turns.

I come to no harm in darkness.
I journey under the wings of my God.
I speak of dark yet exult
        I am rapt by a living light,
        now opaque, now bright,
        utterly enfolding my life.

~ Sr. Patricia Desaulniers
    April 2008

Fr. James Nieckarz in mission in Transfiguration Parish, NYC

               Night Modes

Bark dog of the night from nowhere
 Enter clock-ticking
  Measuring dreams
   Speak liquescent memories
    Splintered rays of yesterdays
      And times long gone.

        Drift away restless river words
          Down to the sea
            Wash away worry
             Wearisome works
               Moonglow waits for tomorrow’s new earth
Whales and fish rest in peaceful night sleeps.

~ Fr. James Nieckarz

A Living Spirituality

The Author of our heart is on the move.
Continually we grow, learning from one experience, and then another,
Learning slowly but surely the things we value.
We can rest only in Thee, our Master and Creator Spirit.

Blessed are we again and again,
For now we too are being called
To be co-creators with Thee.

Our challenge today, it seems, is to make creation do.
We no longer have the endless surplus we once thought.
There are limits to air, water and soil.
No longer can we afford to waste, mismanage and destroy;
For we are seeing how fragile a connection we have with all things in Thee.

No. No. We can’t cut down everything.
It’s now high time to re-plant, re-build and re-create.
Our way is not Thy way. Oh please, let Thy way be ours.

Let us move on as the invited co-creators in Thee,
Always growing in value and virtue.

Always moving on from:

                                          Competition  to  Cooperation
                                       Consumerism  to  Reverence and Respect for Life
                                        Individualism  to  Family
                                            Ownership  to  Stewardship
                                         Abusiveness  to  Usefulness
                                                   Hatred  to  Loving Kindness
                                               Deafness  to  Listening
                                          Indifference  to  Conscientiousness
                                                  Cursing  to  Blessing
                                   Having answers  to  Having questions
                                          Domination  to  Equality
                                                 Banking  to  Sharing
                                          Resentment  to  Pardon
                                                     Power  to  Non-violence
                                                   Rigidity  to  Transformation
                                        Manipulation  to  Honesty

~ Bro. Larry Kenning

Bro. Larry Kenning with two local boys getting ready to plant trees, Bolivia 2007
Sr. Pauline Sticka in mission, Chiayi, Taiwan


A place of beauty unfathomed,
I will never know all that happens there
               never see all that grows there
               never hear all its sounds
               never taste all its fruits
               never smell all its fragrance
               never touch all its beauty.
But — as I sit here — somewhere in the midst of it
I see the distant and nearby mountains
               the forest of pine and green of every shade
               water and lake and flowers
               the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds
               birds and bees and butterflys,
               and crows and lizards and ants
I see LIFE, men, women, and children, young and old,
               mist and light and sun and haze
I hear insects, crows, birds and music,
               winds blowing through the pines,
cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses filled with tourists,
               people talking, babies crying,
               laughter filling the air,
               horns blowing, turkeys gobbling, geese quacking.
I have tasted fruits, vegetables of every color, shape and size,
               water and nourishment of every kind.
I have tasted of what grows in the earth
               and what hangs on the trees and plants.
I smell and breathe clean air,
I have smelled and breathed polluted air.
I smell the flowers, the plants, grass and rain.
I touch a plant, a tree trunk, a flower, a petal,
               a blade of grass, a stone, the earth.
I touch Heaven and I touch Earth.
At night I touch the stars and see the mystery of the night.
I see the moon and know a lesser light.
I see the bulk of mountains and cannot fathom
what they holdin their inner core.
I feel rather than know profound depths.
And I know there is a God, for God gave us a garden
to live in, to play in, to take care of.

~ Sr. Pauline Sticka


Am I some rage that chaos sent to spend itself upon the hills or sea,
a roar untamed and voiceless
fierce fruit of two opposing winds, whose marriage delivered me
spinning from the start?
But gentle tempest —
wherein such core does throb the unblind heart.
and purged by storm the even clearer
must I see and share a quiet truth to any who endure the fury,
who will embrace the ruthlessness, await
the pure-erupting vision which
splits itself upon the patient, like a soothing blast.
My buoyant heart, when half the fragile rage has passed,
stands brief and bold
and silent:
some brilliant instant to taste
before the violence ensues.

~ Sr. Elizabeth Terbrock

Former Maryknoll Lay Missioner Bertha Haas in mission at Huruma School in Mwanza, Tanzania, 2007


Circle of compassion
Open to all
Moments of mercy mild as mango
Passion for peace with the delicacy of passion fruit flowers
Aspiring to answer deep hungers
Sunny smile of child recognizing the voice of his father
Soft song of success surging from school
Indignation at injustice limiting live
Offering our oneness
Now near forever to new neighbors

~ Bertha Haas, Maryknoll Affiliateformer Maryknoll Lay Missioner

Full Moon

Full moon out my window.
Once was orange and now is white.
Its beams connect, transcend, cast light —
to make what’s wrong seem almost right.
Yet, reveal dark secrets kept out of sight.
Only on a full moon night.

~ Patrice Van Hyle, former Maryknoll Lay Missioner


The night
               its all encompassing pitch blackness,
                               refuge of the wandering spirits,
               boldly encroached upon
                               by the radiance of a full moon
               effortlessly turning this feared spirits’ stead
                               into a children’s playground.

The mystery of the dark
               once again dramatized
                              – offered to us to behold
                                             – and to hold
               yet slipping through the rigid fingers
                             of our even more rigid dualistic souls.

We gaze blankly into our hands
               at the gift offered
                              – see nothing
                              – and are disappointed.

Failing to understand
                failing to see
                               we open our hands
                                              spread our fingers
                                                              and unknowingly release our own nothingness
                                                              our very essence evaporating before our eyes
                                                                              – returning to The Nothingness
                                                                              – returning to The Source
                                                                                                              – without us.

Does The Mystery slip so easily
               through fingers stiffer than ours?
                               hands more calloused and [g]narled than ours?
                               hands misshapen from shaping the earth?

Does the essence of darkness
                so easily escape eyes unaccustomed to
                                printed words?
                                                 nintendo games?
                                                                  and video tapes?
                as it does ours?

Does this Essence
                source of all
                                whose deepest meaning
                                                comes to us in nothingness
                                so easily fail to find a home
                                                in the souls of
                                                                – the trusting?
                                                                – the sharing?
                                                                – the now-ing?
                                as it does in ours?

What mystery does this full moon proclaim?
                – the mystery of light perhaps?
                – or is it the mystery of darkness?

Does this travelling beacon, in fact, disperse the darkness?
                – destroying its essence?
                                                – its nothingness?

Or, rather, does its presence herald the true essence of the dark?
               – enhancing this essence?
               – revealing its nothingness?
                                                – its all-thing-ness?

Does, perhaps, the presence of the full moon
                allow us to actually see
                                 the darkness of the night
                                                                  – into which we gaze
                                                                  – from which we came
                                                                  – into which we go?

Does this nearly nightly drama
                reveal to us our own full moon?
                                 invite us into our own

~ Fr. Vince Cole
    August, 13, 1992
    Sa-Er, Asmot
    Night before full moon