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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

A Journey Down Apparition Hill


A burning draws barefoot pilgrims to A bush aflame but unconsumed. In deepest center, in central height, Away from earthly cares, out of empty voids: Only unshod do steps off inadequacy’s edge Lead into those whispers of silent stillnesses, Where Meaning freely searches the heart.

An ache compels them down closer.

Held to breast the Word moves and Rests that knowing twinkle in searching glance With mixed sorrow, sweetness, and dancing joy At the sight, hoping to catch the attention,

If for a fleeting moment, Of the pilgrims plodding down the rocky fastness. Under the canticles of maternal counsels, visions, dreams; He babbles eternity in frail finitudes, a stammering brook Of Divine Fingertip touched signs and symbols. This yet unrecognized love vindicates, rebuilds what men destroyed.

The further down a disciple falls, the nearer he dares -

His own stumbled steps Broke on rocky circumstance, Lost in anxiety’s labyrinthian slopes, crash On anger’s jaggedness, striking Untested feet, bare where even An outburst’s pebble blisters, cuts, On steep pride breaking marble slides. Soundings beyond adversary, obstacle, threat - Fathom mysterious sin bearing pain,

Peace, peace, peace, she cries!

Nearer down he must.

Below bottom of those anguished depths, Where beyond self-occupation’s living death, Where discipline’s tedium tunes taught that suffering string, Where mysterious melodies melt away mediocrity’s weight, Where alone a sobered inebriation whelms euphorias, Where shook darkness dispels spiritual enchantment, Where divine deluge drowns distracted delusions, Where intoxicating torrents still lesser love’s disharmony, Where lonely, where broken, buried, laid bare Draws Christ’s aching prayer, aches the pilgrims feet,

towards the aching Queen of Peace.

So close, he dares down nearer still.

Into such shell shocked emptiness, entombed All else in His unrequited love for me, for man, for you pilgrim - Eternal Word ablaze in Uncreated Fire. Enfleshed - Who has born such separation of body and soul? Drawing, bellowing, moving deeper still Into what Life harrowed Hell A pilgrim has yet to know - His Crucified love In him flies, races, walks, falls, crawls and he crawls

He slides down further.

For failure, void, catastrophe do not exhaust Mercy’s unsounded depths. Buried there, A pilgrim dares drink to the dregs His unquenchable thirst, And hears echoed in his own heart that virginal “Fiat”, And welcomes anew that maternal question, And makes his own that irresistible Magnificat, And tastes the very substance of hope.

A burning heart compels him deeper.

Heart-pierced with her, compelled, finally free Traversing, flying, running, walking, falling, crawling That royal highway unknown to unaided eye To chance upon, to stumble into, to discover that wall, that rampart, that impenetrable frontier that no evil passes beyond - but wherein lies The homeland of his heart, that sacred ground, That fertile soil smiling on us even in death - To gain for his brothers, his sisters, his friends, For you, for Him whose suffering love Even at this late hour rushes in us Towards yet unexplored and endless seas.

Farther, higher, deeper, nearer!

In this hidden mountain, in secret garden’s center Eternally begotten Meaning Begets in him life not his own. Womb conceiving and conceived Word Conceives in his heart words not his own. Words not of sounds and syllable, but purpose and resolve. God's body, the birth of Un-circumscribed Truth Embodies faith's sojourner and his body is not his own:

Does Life’s wounded hand wave him still closer? Is it instead the discrete and urgent hand of a mother? Still the disciple's heart aches to be nearer.


Humbled in the mud Of blood and water, knees fasting find The blue Portal in which misery meets its limit, A still point in the cycle of human affairs, A sin bearing boundary. Bitterness passes away but the Gate of Heaven remains - Suffering souls into the Heart of the Father By love refined, in love alive, in love to die - Surrendering to such Uncreated Love Who cannot release a heart’s Scorned captives and bitter debts?


Though we die a thousand deaths, Love’s ache beckons Near beyond all nearness.

O Dawning Horizon of New Life Whose glance of goodness makes all things new! Such splendors as evoke awe spill through your windows, In radiant songs and dancing hues, crystal clear torrents Of tears and joy, reflecting flashes of terrible tendernesses By which alone history’s true currents shine With thundering tapestries of life and love, Sprung from yet deeper down bottomlessness, No one knew moved with such un-vanquished force, In that Father’s Heart at journey’s end.



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