The Hermitage

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Not in speaking nor in many words written,
but in silence, the soul of a man finds peace.
For God’s holy whispers cannot be heard amid
worldly noises of distraction that never cease.

A pupil cannot hear the Master while
while fluttering and twittering like a bird.
So it is well the student learn to be still,
for the soul to receive its Master’s word.

Be still then, amid a thousand clanging bells—
useless tasks and demands of this earth.
In silence and in solitude, away from the mob,
will the soul of a man find true worth.

Turn out glaring lights of worldly intrusion,
close shutters of the heart against the garish day.
Take shelter in the hallowed cell of prayer,
and let the blessing of silence be your way.

© Richard Keith Carlton

This World Is Not My Home

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I was thinking of the words of an old
hymn, “This world is not my home,
I’m just a passin’ through.” And I realized
these words expressed exactly what I feel—
have felt for a good long time now.

Here in what may be called the autumn of
my years, I realize there are many more sunsets
behind me than lie ahead of me. That time is
no longer on my side, and passes as quickly
by me, as a jet plane across a clear blue sky.

For some time now I have been more concerned
with building treasures for the life beyond, than
worrying about the little treasures I now possess,
or those I have lost or discarded along my way.
Too old now to plan great and wonderful things.

Save for those loved ones dearest to me, whom I
pray for with all my heart, every day and every night,
there is little in this world that holds my interest.
My days are spent, in the words of Paul the Apostle,
“working out my salvation with fear and trembling.”

Peace is found in the silence of heart, spirt and soul,
where I meet the Almighty in my many prayers—
in the sanctuary each morning where I receive the
Bread of Life, my needed nourishment on the journey.
In the sacred hours of solitude, closing out the world.

Listening for those inner whisperings from beyond this,
where Love beckons my weary heart and tired soul to
prepare in this life for the holy mysteries of the next.
Where I ask God to heal the pain, and empty me of
all anger, regret, and disappointment of days long gone.

To love all, forgive all, to remember not the former things,
and leave the past in the heap of ashes it truly is, to live in
the now, the hour, with a new heart, a heart cleansed of all
the dirt and dust accumulated in my long history.
And to trust Him, only Him, above all other creatures.

To live each day in gratitude for what I have, and what I
have survived, and to remember it could have been otherwise.
To live as though it may be the last day, and cast all worries,
fears, and useless anticipations upon the winds of nevermore.
And to remember, “This world is not my home,
I’m just a passin’ through.”

 

© Richard Keith Carlton

A QUIET SORROW

 

 

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A quiet sorrow
never heard in the din of humanity,
lost amid clanging bells of busyness.
Sorrow for soul, sorrow for self
and quiet anguish for lives wasted.

In the quiet hours
listen to the soft gentle voice of mercy,
shutting out tormented cries of a world
gone wrong, of a world gone mad—
listen in the quiet to hope.

In a quiet space
away from the horrors of mortality—
crimes against the children of God.
In silent shadows, with silent tears,
pray for mankind in quiet sorrow.

 

© Richard Keith Carlton

THE HALL OF SOULS

 

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They linger in mist
across a great divide
between the here and the now.
A mile from heaven, they wait,
amidst cleansing fire, the final beckoning—
in the hall of souls.

The past left behind
lost forever and a day
when time determined all things.
Now in a constant gray they wait,
where time has been swallowed in eternity—
in the hall of souls.

Say a prayer for them
from this mortal dwelling,
offer them a moment’s suffering.
For when at last they journey home,
they may remember to pray for you—
in the hall of souls.

 

© Richard Keith Carlton

TO WHOM SHALL I GO?

 

DANCE WALK

I follow you now, with a new pace,
resolved to never turn back or aside—
no matter how often I stumble or grow
weary. I have followed the songs of sirens,
gone astray and afield of truth, only to
find myself lost in some valley barren—
a thousand miles and heartaches from you.

But then, you told me long ago, when first
I heard your words of life and hope, that
should I follow, I must take up any crosses
that would come my way, to never look
back, trusting you would lead me home—
lead me to truth, the only truth. Beyond
these plains and highways of toil and woe.

Long the journey has been, my Lord indeed,
and filled with days of sweet and beautiful
consolations to heart and soul. And nights
as well, when the cold specters of shadows
seemed my only companions, their icy fingers
gripping me, so that at times, I felt I would be
pulled into a black hole of nothingness.

And when least expecting it, the shadows
would disperse, light would shine, and I could
once again see clearly the road leading home.
Come what may, what winds of circumstance
may blow, I have come too far to turn back.
I will follow you. For what else can I do—
to whom shall I go dear Lord?

You have the words of eternal life.

 

© Richard Keith Carlton

The Lingering Night

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In the lingering night
I hear You. In my heart, in the deepness
of my spirit, Your whispers, calm the tempests
that blow worldly fears and anxieties upon me.
And I know I am not alone.
Your image appears, tearing through dark shades
of unbelief, shining soft lights of faith and truth
into the damp, lifeless caverns of my soul.

I feel a quiver, a slight tremble of inspiration,
and a part of me feels a stirring of something real—
a thing unseen, once known, and now remembered.
It is You. Coming through the shadows towards me,
a candle in the darkness of this tomb of lethargy.
Silent. Towards me. Bringing light, not with judgment,
but with love and understanding. For you know
where it is I have been, and the crosses I have borne.

Here in the lingering night,
I whisper to You, to my image of You, from this
empty room where I have settled for a while, weary
of the journey, weakened, if for only a time, from
so many days and nights out on the highways of time—
on the backroads, of life, my life, this life. This piece
of the world where I have risen and fallen a thousand
times and in a thousand ways.

Candles begin to flicker out. Small tongues of dying light.
I close my eyes and stutter a prayer, mutter some
litany to the saints, trying to light a fire down in my soul.
And when I almost surrender to the shadows of doubt,
I hear You. In my heart, hear You whisper from a place
beyond shadows, a place of light, and I know You are near—
close to me, bringing real Light, that cannot flicker and
burn out, real fire, that will burn all of my days—
and beyond, across the highways of eternity.

And I know I am not alone, here in the lingering night.

 

© Richard Keith Carlton

HOMELAND

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I awake each morning, further from the past,
closer to the last sunrise, the final sunset in
a pilgrim’s journey of exile through a foreign land.
Each morning, I long more and more for home.
I dream of it, while asleep, or awake, as a child
lost for a time and separated from mother and father.

My longing is not one of sadness, but more of a
sweet melancholy, a pang of missing something only
remembered in the soul, recollected in gentle inspirations,
inner whisperings of those from a homeland far away.
And I answer those whisperings with tender prayers
from a heart yearning to see what is only now, imagined.

Prayers offered from a spirit weary of worldly things,
which come and go as so many mists and shadows.
Offered to heavenly siblings who beckon to a brother,
a fellow sojourner of earth, as once long ago were they,
to rise above barren fields of earthly ambitions and concerns.

To strive through all circumstances, to prepare for myself
treasures in the homeland for which I desire at last to see.
Prayers. Sometimes from desperation, at other times,
rising like incense upward, beyond what I was, away from
what I am, into a blue sky of what I so wish to be.

More than fanciful wishes, or dreams of folly, the longings
of heart, mind, spirit and soul, spoken in whispered words of
love and gratitude, at times, merely groans from deep within.
A longing to see the Father, the Son, the Mother, the brothers
and sisters waiting for me, praying for me, to come home.

© 2017 Richard Keith Carlton