The Raw Stillness of Heaven

About the book

Through poems about prayer, conversion and faith, Tim Bete shares his search for God—a search that is common to each of us. Somewhere in the intersection of holy silence and the struggles of daily life, God appears: in a winter evening walk, in the smell of incense at church, in a blue patio chair, in the Sacrament of Confession. More than a collection of poems, this book is a prayer journal—a glimpse into the faith journey of the poet.

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“Beautiful and very accomplished. There’s a spareness about the language and a quietness which makes these poems excellent vehicles for reflection and prayer. We need God’s stillness in the world. These poems really contain His silence.”
— Sally Read, poet and author of Night’s Bright Darkness

“In this collection of beautiful and soul stirring poems by the new poet, Tim Bete, the reader—or perhaps more appropriately, the contemplative listener—will discover a means of transport into the center of the human encounter with God. Drawing on everything from the earliest and sometimes painful childhood memories, as in Hangar Shirts, to the inevitable lifetime journey of the prodigal’s return in The Longest Road, Bete’s poems have the impact of encouraging the reader to both enter in, and later be drawn back out from our often all too raw human experience. Along the way, and as part of this spiritual exercise of entering in and going forth, Bete uses the powerful imagery of night, nature, snow and silence to paint this picture of encounter, as when in the Silent Winter Prayer he writes, “At that moment, You pierced my heart, fracturing the tabernacle of the woods.”

These poems are a powerful and quite enjoyable read in and of themselves, but perhaps the most compelling aspect of this collection is its ability to help us, in a prayerful way, identify and wrestle with our own fragile faith in the midst of a quite unpredictable existence. This is well demonstrated in the poem, Invocation for a Dying Man. Here Bete invites us to experience the apparent futility of the act of prayer in the midst of pain, “God took the man and we sobbed because God hadn’t listened.” But then he offers his readers, in the later poem, Love’s Call, the hopeful note of victory, transition, encounter and even the vision of an eternal embrace, “Yet death He nimbly smashed, like a fragile earthen vase and called out to His souls, come through this death to Me.”

For those who appreciate good poetry, this will be a very enjoyable read. But even more so, for those who seek in poetry an encounter between the interior and the eternal, this collection will serve as fair passage to that rendezvous.”
— Mark Danis, OCDS, co-host of the Carmelite Conversations radio program