The format is smaller (19cm tall / 14cm wide), but In the Beginning Was Love: Contemplative Words of Robert Lax is an outstanding and beautifully bound collection of selections from Robert Lax's (1915-2000) poems and journals. They paint a picture of Lax as a poet-mystic; one who is at once wide-eyed and open to Creator and creation, while at the same time acutely aware of the full-range of all that makes us human. The darker realities of being human are not hidden… “Your old self, your new self, your new self, your old self.
Every page is a gift to the contemplative soul. I loved it, and shall return to it often, both as a means of deepening my own seeing, but also as a means of nourishing the wisdom and insight that I hope for in my own altogether human life.
Jonathan Montaldo, editor of The Intimate Merton (with Brother Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O.) writes, in the foreword, that “Lax’s creations, if read in the quiet in which they were composed, will bring the reader into dialogue with a silence that is a powerfully transforming “word” itself. What appears empty is perceived as full, and what is poor is revealed as precious. The mystery of being alive is encountered, if only momentarily, as unobscured.”
Steve Georgiou, a friend of mine, has gifted us something special in bringing together these selections and in introducing the collection so thoughtfully.
Why is Lax relevant? Georgiou says it well: “…Throughout Lax’s writing we hear his perennial plea to “slow down,” “relax,” “simplify,” to consider where we came from, where we are now, and where we are going. He gently urges his readers to trust in the God of love, to go with the flow of love, to forgive and pray, to be attentive to the moment with wisdom and compassion… to make the best life choices, to live authentically, [and] gracefully. The poet-sage reminds us that we were born to be co-creators, nurturers of the cosmos (and of one another), artists of the eternal…[and] peacemakers…”
Lax lived to be 85. He lived life. He loved life. These poems and brief reflections reflect that life. They offer a deep wisdom, a rich insight into what it means to be a human fully alive. I highly recommend this little book.
For more on Lax, I also recommend Georgiou’s trilogy: The Way of the Dreamcatcher: Spirit Lessons with Robert Lax (revised 2010); Mystic Street: Meditations on a Spiritual Path, and The Isle of Monte Cristo: Finding the Inner Treasure.
And finally, there is the excellent biography Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax by Michael N. McGregor (pub. 21st September 2015). Plus a published collection of letters between Thomas Merton and Robert Lax, titled When Prophecy Still Had a Voice: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Robert Lax.