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The Second Story Mountain

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Merton wrote

The Seven Storey Mountain

About his journey to faith

And affiliation

David Brooks has written

The Second Mountain

About the search for a moral

Life that also

Has in it

Brooks’s journey into faith

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There are many such stories

(John Henry Newman, Anne Lamott

Karen Armstrong—I give these folk

in order of reading them),

And high places

Are often an association

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Once we climb, once we achieve

The phenomenal

The numinous,

We end up

On a mountain top

There is, in fact, the mountain-top

Experience,

A trope of faith

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On my way back recently,

I skirted a tunnel torn up for construction

And drove over two mountains

As an unmarked detour,

Taking roads who edges were too near,

Too sharp, too narrow

I was scared

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And wondered among things while driving

How folk could live on either side,

Having these as ways

To take a normal day

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I don’t like heights

I don’t like driving off the road, either

It’s all done now, and if I’m smart

I’ll never take that way again

There was a mountaintop, I guess

There were two such tops

I only noted a change in incline

Down from up

There was not a park or anything

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A pullover,

A bench with an inscription in huge letters

Come and have your mountaintop here

Rather the only words I got

Were my own

That said, don’t look down so much

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I’ll live in the valleys,

I suppose,

And have my faith life there

Or at the oceanside from time to time

It’s not stormy weather

That I mind

Though someday it should take

Me home

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I’m sorry, this is more a story

Than a poem much cleverer,

Not much more

Than talking

In the room

Over coffee or some such,

Should we be meeting

At a table

Or in comfy chairs

Or with both

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I have my life of faith, such as it

Might be

I hope, I even pray, that

You have yours

In a healthy sect or tradition

That suits you and

Creator and

Creation

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Fits you like a story to

Which you return

Time and again

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C L Couch

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The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks

Route 641

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Photo by Fabrizio Lunardi on Unsplash

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