One of my favorite poets, Richard Wilbur, describes in one of his poems what it is like to send off a manuscript on which one has long labored. The first stanza of the poem is this:
Having confided to the heavy-lipped
Mailbox his great synoptic manuscript,
He stands light-headed in the lingering clang.
How lightly, too, he feels his briefcase hang!
And the poem ends with this:
It is his purpose now as, turning ‘round,
He takes his bearings and is homeward bound,
To ponder what the world’s confusion meant
When he regarded it without intent.
It’s been a while since I put the God’s Gamble manuscript in the proverbial mailbox, but there have been just enough speaking and writing invitations to keep me from wading into larger projects. I was asked to contribute an article to an upcoming issue of Communio: The International Catholic Review, which I submitted at the end of the summer. This fall I lectured at the annual conference of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, and next week I will deliver the annual lecture to the bishops, priests, and seminarians of the San Francisco Bay Area at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Early in 2019 I will join my colleagues in the College of Fellows of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology as we address the issue of the role of the Catholic laity in the life of the Church. The timing of each of these presentations is as fortunate as the topics are challenging.
Early in 2019, however, I will face a decision about where to turn my attention. Between now and then events will no doubt occur, and inspirations will come, which will influence my decision. What I can promise you and Randy is that, whatever I feel obliged to undertake, it will be the logical outcome of the work that the Cornerstone Forum has been doing for decades. At the moment there are two projects that I will most likely take up. The first is a bit of a departure.
My oldest friends will remember that during the almost 20 years when I was giving weekly talks in Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Rosa it was my practice to send out a poem in each monthly mailing to those attending the sessions. I have only recently located some of these poems and to my surprise there are a number of them that I think worth preserving. So, unless something happens that causes me – always with Randy’s wise counsel – to turn to a project more pressing and worthy, I plan to spend a little time early in 2019 preparing a few dozen of these poems for publication in a small chapbook. Below are two of the poems which will be considered for inclusion in the collection.
This poem is from September 1985 and it was part of a series entitled “Pedestrian Crossing.”
TEN YEARS’ WORTH
Here are a few drill bits, nicked and dull
From biting rock, each driven by a rotor
Whose rhythmic turns might calm at times a soul,
But whose purpose is still water.
The reason why I’ve left blunt bits around
Where they’re this likely to be seen
Is to say that there’s still water underground
(Though there’s some bedrock in between)
That this present drought might draw upon.
The poem below is from September 1981, and it was part of the series entitled “Hollering Hymns from the Vestibule.”
SOMEONE’S APPLE FARM
Today I watched a rusted barbwire fence
Doing what it’s always done on someone’s apple farm.
I had never watched a fence at work before.
Store-bought brambles by the running foot,
Once strung so taut to guard young Gravensteins,
Now limply hung from weathered post to post.
It’s all that it can do to look forbidding,
Its old exactitude grown slack and dissolute,
Till it, so overgrown, invites the interloper:
The easy outside branches flirt their fruit,
And the barbwire seems to tease, the way it droops,
Like the eyelids of a giant after supper.
It would give me great pleasure to make a few of these poems available in printed and digital form, and I even think that taking a short break and preparing a few poems for publication might put me in touch with the original impulse out of which my work emerged and ready me for the work ahead.
After that, I plan to take a deep breath and, in all likelihood, dive back into my long-standing project: a book on the mystery of the person as Christianity understands it, the working title of which is: The Soul is Naturally Christian: Changing the Subject from Self to Person.
Whatever projects we take up will bear fruit only because of the friendship, support, and prayers of our friends. If you find our efforts worthy of support please help us in this work by making a tax deductible donation. Randy provides details on this below. And please feel free to share with us any thoughts you have about how our little apostolate might be more effective. Our friends and supporters will remain in our daily prayers.
Over the past twelve months we have jumped through the procedural hoops of becoming a certified ‘Amazon Seller’, learning the ropes of how to make Gil Bailie’s audio materials available to many more people than would ever visit our website. We began listing some of Gil Bailie’s audio CD materials on Amazon’s vast marketplace in March. In addition, we have produced some of these as audiobooks that are now available on Audible, Amazon’s audiobook platform. In just seven months over 60 of these items were purchased by new customers – and that without any advertising. We will add many more titles to the Amazon catalog in the coming year. Also, we continue to work towards finding a way to make Gil’s first book, Violence Unveiled, available as an e-book and audio book.
This year we are offering to those responding to our annual Fall Appeal both a printed booklet and an audio recording of Gil’s recent presentation entitled “Bells & Whistles – the Technology of Forgetfulness” given at the Conference of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. An excerpt to the audio version follows below. We will mail the booklet and a CD version to those supporting our work with a ‘Sustaining Donor’ gift of at least $300/year or $25/month. This is in addition to at least 12 mailed CDs of material from the audio archives during the coming year. Sustaining donors will also be able to download a complimentary PDF booklet & MP3 audio version of these same materials. Those contributing at least $60/year or $5/month will be emailed a digital version of the booklet (PDF) and links to download the “Bells & Whistles” MP3 presentation as well as at least 12 MP3 audio files during the coming year from the archives of Gil Bailie’s audio presentations. Finally, we will send a copy of the “Bells & Whistles” booklet and PDF to all those making a donation of at least $25, and a PDF copy for a gift of at least $5.
The work that lies before us can only be done with the assistance of your prayers and material support. Please respond to our Fall Appeal by making a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts by donating on our secure website or mailing a check to us at the address below. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you, again, for your interest in our work.
The Cornerstone Forum
PO Box 269
Sonoma, CA 95476