Fr Peter Steele : A Tonic For Tuesday

I have had the great fortune to discover the work of Fr Peter Steele today.. How come it took me so long???

If you get the chance to read this wonderful transcript and / or listen to it, please do. 

It is full of spiritual riches on so many things.

It's called Things Can Only get Better.and was recorded for Encounter Australia on 2nd October this year.

Margaret Coffey interviews the Jesuit priest, University lecturer, poet and Ignatian retreat director Fr. Peter Steele with contributions from others including Dr Colette Rayment. 

This extract from the interview hopefully may whet your appetite for more :

 Margaret Coffey : "What if I give you a poem of Peter's? Like a real mystic Peter is grounded, and one of the hallmarks of Peter's groundedness is his wonderful capacity to use colloquial idiom.

One of his favourites is 'whistling in the dark." So that comes into this poem. 

It is called Praying - and I am reminded of the time when Peter was Provincial of the Society of Jesus - I think he clocked up ten thousand aviation miles each year or something enormous.

Here it goes: 
Sometimes it feels like Jimmy Durante calling
goodnight to Mrs Calabash, whoever
she was or whether. Sometimes it's the tenth
hour in the trans-Pacific plane,
all glamour gone and connections still to make.
and it's been known to turn dirty,
as if a cutter, back from the peat-hag, found
his ass's pannier loaded with nothing.
But whistling in the dark, as the poet said,
is good practice for whistling, so
one goes on doing it and cognate things,
knowing a little and holding out
for a touch of what shows in the eyes of the old
hands at the business, their voices surrendered,
a better than Boeing winging their hopes, the laden
flesh beginning to take fire.
[Note:From White Knight With Beebox, New and Selected Poems, by Peter Steele. John Leonard Press 2008. Copyright: Peter Steele. Due to limitations in our web-publishing system, this poem is regrettably not set out as intended by the poet.

Colette Rayment: "There's the metaphor at work - people's faces taking fire from their contemplative life and there is the commonplace, the ordinary, the colloquial language, little biographical notes in it, you know his journeys, travelling all the time, but turned into something that is really in praise of prayer, however hard it might be. 

You know I think if he thinks about an infinite God then he thinks about the infinite possibilities of that being manifest in the world and the innumerable things he could light on to start a prayerful meditation. 

Something that I think he deeply sees and experiences is the radiant outpouring of love in a transcendental sense to each human being, and the possibility that if an individual taps into that then that person can also radiate that love to fellow human beings. That's his major theme."

  Finally this fine poem taken from this article in the publication  Eureka Street.

",,,,,another green poem, which rises, and rises, in lyric ecstasy....................from The Chinese Proverb.............

'If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing
bird will come.'
A prayer of sorts,
charm for the good one, murmured into the wind,
day by tossing day.
There they go, a skyful at random, trying
the blue acres, miming the risen:
shearwater, brolga, avocet, tern, rosella
bugling, whistling, calling.
'A bird does not sing because it has an answer,
It sings because it has a song,'
Happy at sixty. Good for the company, bless
The blackbird on your bough.

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