Our Sister Genevieve recently released her newest book. You can buy it now in paperback or eBook from Liturgical Press: By Lamplight, or from our website in January 2022.
“The familiar images of Word and Light break open with fresh insight in the imaginative and wise ruminations of Sister Genevieve Glen, OSB. From Nazareth to Emmaus, psalms to beatitudes, Advent to Pentecost, through characters, stories, and prayers, this nimble poet and lifelong student of Scripture takes us to new places in texts we thought we knew. At turns probing, humorous, and inspiring, these reflections ultimately help us to know more deeply the Word made Flesh, Jesus of Nazareth — crucified and risen, the Light of the World.”
Mother Maria-Thomas wrote the following poem to accompany the first volume of her Reveries Under the Fig Tree, in which alludes to the theme she chose for her books: the encounter between Nathaniel and Jesus as described in John 1:45-51. In this passage we hear Christ telling Nathaniel that he saw him under the fig tree before he was called by Philip, which mysteriously led to Nathaniel’s immediate belief in Jesus as truly being the “Son of God” and “King of Israel.”
Our God is Coming
We don’t know what Nathanael saw that night under his fig tree in the dark winter’s skies. Was it a dream like Jacob had on his flight? A vision of angels soaring up to the heights carrying with them his prayers and tears, bringing back God’s assuring promise of light and protection which put an end to his fears?
Or did the Messiah appear to Nathanael, as he once did to the young Prophet Daniel who saw the Son of Man coming as Ruler of nations? At the end of all time from heaven he’ll descend as Savior and Judge from the Father’s right hand, Offering all mankind God’s new-born creation: Pure oceans, fresh air, and in spring-bloom the world; in fire all hearts then cleansed from transgressions.
Look at that star over Bethlehem: It seems to announce the place of his birth, As Balaam foresaw in the Hebrew story: The Magi set out from the ends of the earth, to worship the King, precious presents they bring. In vain did they seek him in palaces’ wealth. They found him at last in a cold, dripping cave on his mother’s lap while angels would sing of peace to all people and to God alone glory.
No witness we have of that reverie which only Nathanael himself could know. But so far he kept it in tight secrecy hiding this vision from his fellows below.
Now here comes this Rabbi from Nazareth, a small unknown city of dubious fame. The Messiah this man cannot possibly be, as some of his followers boldly proclaim. But his eyes pierce deep into my innermost heart: All my doubts, my desires he seems to see He must be the Messiah, the Son of God.
Below is the poem she wrote for the second volume of her Reveries Under the Fig Tree:
We don’t know what Nathanael dreamed that night under his fig tree in early spr Was it the same dream that Jacob, in flight, saw of the angels on a ladder to God carrying up his desires and fears, and in turn God’s assuring response did bring?
Or did the Messiah appear to Nathanael ready to free from the tight Roman yoke his ancestral heritage, the land Israel still held in bondage despite attempts of revolt?
Or was it more like a vision? Who knows? An appearance like that to Ezekiel who witnessed the throng of dead-stricken bones, arising to life by the fresh Spirit’s breath from the rubble of ashes, of fire and death?
Or did he see “Phoenix” in jubilant blaze ascending to God out of Calvary’s grave? taking dead humankind to God’s living face?
No witness we have of that reverie which only the dreamer himself could know. But he kept it so far in tight secrecy hiding this mystery from his fellows below.
Now here comes this Rabbi from Nazareth who beholds the deep secrets of all human hearts. He must be the Messiah, Israel’s King who, arising to glory from torment and death, to all waiting souls God’s salvation will bring.
Mother Maria-Thomas Beil, OSB, has recently released two new books: Reveries Under the Fig Tree Volume I – Reflections for the Advent and Christmas Season, and Reveries Under the Fig Tree Volume II – Reflections for the Lent and Easter Season. They are compilations of the letters she sent out to our Oblates when she was Oblate Director (from the year she retired from serving as Abbess in 2003 until 2012), in addition to various supplemental reflections and conferences given to the community. Her insights constitute an invaluable resource for spiritual meditation. To accompany her literary work she composed beautiful oil paintings, which are featured on their covers. A third and final volume will be released for the Summer and Fall Seasons, with a special emphasis on Oblate formation and Final Oblation.
Click here to visit our Gift Shop page where you can purchase Mother Maria-Thomas’ books.
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