Poems of Mother Raphaela

Mother Raphaela / Reprinted from: Jacob's Well, Winter 1997


How can poetry break
through a mist of tears?
How can words
fathom the depths
of a wounded heart?
Thoughts, like fingers
gentle to touch
reach within;
placing courage
as balm
on the trembling soreness.
I must be still
and learn once more
to hear my heart.
You are always there.
Why do I forget and tremble?

Jacob’s Song

I had once, it seemed,
scaled a lofty peak
but slipped.
I fell on firm ground it seemed
‘till the sun’s warmth
revealed a muddy bog
beneath my feet. I ran quickly
hoping that the frozen ice
on which I’d built my hopes
would hold until I reached
a solid haven.

By God’s grace,
I lost the race
and fell yet further down.

I’ve fallen through yet once again
into a deeper place.
It seems for me that God is here ---
I need not climb for heaven.


Let God arise!
Let Him laugh as He rolls
this small marble of earth
from its orbit.
Let men clap their hands
to see stars turn to dust
in the light of His face --
the word that gives meaning.


Mother Raphaela is the abbess of the Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego, NY
a stavropighial institution of the Orthodox Church in America.

Sketch by Yvette Abdallah.

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