It was a natural. We had published A Maryknoll Book of Prayer and A Maryknoll Book of Inspiration. Readers loved them. An anthology of poems by Maryknoll missioners, supporters and authors had to come next as surely as April flowers had to follow sunshine and rain.
A Maryknoll Book of Poetry is a bouquet of poetry arranged to nourish us in good times and bad. Some are joy-making, others heartbreaking, and all illumine something particular to reveal a universal truth. In the Philippines after a flood Maryknoll Sister Jean Fallon watches
A banana leaf walking along the path protecting a baby and a burdened mother from sudden showers
and beholds God’s providence and a spiritual alternative to greed.
Who needs an umbrella when banana trees share their leaves?
Maryknoll Brother Martin Shea joins villagers at a garbage dump in Guatemala, sorting through to find some basic treasure, and realizes
We are One
We are all One
Sorting through our lives
Surprised to find God in this strange place
But not so surprising or strange
As we realize God finds us where
And like ourselves
Stick in hand
Helps us sort through.
Former Maryknoll Lay Missioner Deirdre Cornell remembers her grandmother praying her beads and wonders why she was born.
You were born to become a rosary, a thread that ties us from one world to the next.
Some poets in the book are world famous: Ernesto Cardenal, Joyce Rupp, Dom Helder Camara.
Most are like you and me, pilgrims on our way back to Eden who can’t help but pick up a pen now and then and endeavor to remember the map. Each of the 100 poems in the book reveals the truth, beauty and goodness that lie beneath appearances.
They open our eyes to the love of God through lives examined in words that sing, and spaces, pauses, silences and beats.
Maryknollers serve the poor because they have glimpsed the poetry and truth of Jesus’ words: “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. I tell you, whenever you did this to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
That is the heart of A Maryknoll Book of Poetry.
Michael Leach is editor-at-large of Orbis Books.
Michael Leach is publisher emeritus of Orbis Books, the publishing arm of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.
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