Wojtyla’s Poetry, Shores of Silence, continued

A Continued Meditation on the Shores of Silence by Karol Wojtyla
by Mitchell Thomas, member John Paul II Forum advisory board

In such silence I hide,
A leaf released from the wind,
no longer anxious for days that fall.
They must all fall, I know.

In such silence I hide .  .  .

 Pope John Paul II was no naïve optimist.  He knew the dangers of life, but to avoid the risk at all cost is to rule out our humanity.  Life would move him to throw himself upon the Lord and hide in the silence of prayer.  He knew that by virtue of our Baptism, we have been baptized into the death of Christ.  But we are not only baptized into His death but by the virtue of the same we share in His Rising, provided we preserver to the end.  Because he is hidden in Christ he know himself to be —

A leaf released from the wind, no longer anxious for days that fall.
They must all fall, I know.

He experiences the liberation of being released.  Released from what?  He is released from that feeling of disorientation, of being blown about by the happening of life.  What follows confirms our view that he holds a mature spiritual realism because he knows that the days before him,

They must all fall .  .  .

How differently we assess things.  Liberation would be the complete impossibility of the falling day.  But on this side of Heaven such a thing is not possible.  The attempt of eliminate the falling day, however well intended, all end with the Devil’s Bargain mentioned above all.  Man is homo viator (i.e. man the wayfarer).  As Augustine remarked, in this present life we have no lasting city.  With such an understanding one does not erect a blockade to life.  Wisdom knows that behind the falling days, there is the Real, the Eternal- the Triune God.  In such wisdom one is no longer anxious because of the love that is in the heart one sees things arranged according to Truth. 

This sort of seeing and understanding that comes from accepting the offer of Love without having to have the assurance that no trouble will happen confront us.  Understanding this, is it any wonder that John Paul II had such a deep devotion to Our Lady. He knew that Our Lady is an impeccable lover of Wisdom.  Before the falling day she has not an argument, an ideology, or a system but an example to give.  She is the true philosopher because twice we are told when the mysteries of life arose before here, “she kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Lk 1:19 and cf. also Lk. 1:49-51) Her life was a continual Fiat, even with the knowledge that a sword would pierce her soul as well (would she not have felt the lance pierced her Son’s side?).  Though she knew not the manner, Mary was aware that the days must fall.  She did not seek to mitigate the risk but kept all in her heart .  .  . a heart completely open to God.  She is our Model. John Paul II ends his encyclical Fides et ratio with this prayer: “May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world.”

Wojtyla was the philosopher’s philosopher. His poetry shows, if we take the name seriously, philosophy is never meant to exist in arguments only.  If that is understood to be the only basis of philosophy it will only be a matter of time until in degenerates into Sophistry.   As Plato and Aristotle remind us Philosophy best exists in conversation among friends. The true philosopher’s stone, transforming the base into the precious, is love.  Love is the interpreter of reality. Love is reality (1 Jn. 4:8b).  


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