Days Hazed, When Such Winter Chill, and Light Too Bright to Behold

frozen lake - winter chill

Days Hazed

days hazed,

holding their knowing,

known in hope only,

open too slowly,

while these days

filled too full

quit too quickly, knowing not yet caught.

yet hazed days

are wonders working,

slowly seen,

but granting sight

so that in these days

our lame leave burdens behind—

and carry us;

and hearts fill full;

and knowing catches us.

When Such Winter Chill

when such winter chill creeps up close so swift


pausing, playing,

bitter and bracing,


wheel-racing turning for turning

and one stops still——

to turn to embrace the chill:

in this embrace

of what was thought

unworthy, too wintry,

winter itself is redeemed, redemptive,

remade by Fire to be Fire’s edge;

and Fire’s heart embraces what was always Fire’s own;

Fire now allowed to creep up close

seeps in so swift,

pausing, playing,

carving, embracing,

in every recess assuring,

unwilling to ever abandon this heart-of-My-Heart

turned to My Heart.

to Martha, then:

of tasks begetting tasks

there is but one that is required:

stop and turn, invite, embrace, and fill each heart with fire.

Light Too Bright to Behold

You call me “light too bright to behold,”

and say I focus on the speck of imperfection,

when You see the ocean of joy and love instead.

I am so small;

and yet You call me to Your side,

and ask me as Your partner

to labor love and light,

rebuilding and remaking

the world into Your image bit by bit.

You insist on inviting

everyone we meet

to enter Your heart through mine,

whether or not I notice.

And You remind me to rest,

to be gentle with myself,

Your providence being so big

it provides everything for all,

knowing even the smallest need

and answering in time,

transforming us slowly,

into light too bright to behold.

Photo by Sam Wheeler on Unsplash.

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Mary Ellen Smajo has been savoring and writing responses to sacred moments since early high school, when she first began to notice and reflect on God’s tangible actions in our lives. She is a (“very happy and grateful!”) member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and serves as the music minister for IVC Chicago. Prior to joining IVC, she worked in clinical education; before that she worked as a medical physicist in the hospital setting. Her PhD is in medical physics, and she did her undergrad at Loyola University Chicago. “These poems are God’s; may they do the work for which they were sent. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.”


  1. This is good. Took a moment just to stop and take it is. Loved the last one. I’ve realized that He has asked us to be participants in the gospel of Jesus and that He does all the heart work. Loved it Mary

  2. Thank you! Like Suzanne I especially liked ‘Light too Bright to Behold’. It spoke directly to me yet so gently. Just what I needed to hear today-I will be returning to it over and over again. How good that your words can reach me here in the UK through this site.

  3. The second part speaks of embracing the chill, unworthy chill, too wintry chill that when touched by the Fire of Christ is redemptive love. This reminds me of how St. Francis was touched by this Fire when he was moved to embrace the leper, the unworthy, chillingly scary leper. This was redemptive for him. My husband has early dementia that chills my mind and soul for our future. I know what to do.

    • Patricia, your words moved me deeply. Sometimes my fears about the value of these poems, or about being naked in front of everyone when I share them so publicly, make me afraid to continue sharing them in this way (though when I pray about it, it’s clear to me that the fear is from the Adversary, and God’s will is that the poems have a chance to do the work for which they were sent). Your comment was, to me, a giant confirmation that the Holy Spirit really is using these poems to accomplish God’s work. Thank you so much for sharing your insights! I’ll be keeping your family in my prayers.
      Best regards,
      Mary Ellen

  4. Thank you, Mary Ellen. Like Paul, I am not someone who “gets” poetry very easily. But reading through these, I was thinking how one might say the same thing in prose and realized that, in this form, the message is somehow more immediate, more visceral. I especially like the last one. I’m going to use it as a morning prayer for a while. Very rich. Thank you!


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