Gray Rising

      God rests in the lull after
      the prayer and before the amen,
      and curls up in the darkness
      between match strike and flame.

    • Poems

      Where God Hides


      Between the inhale and the exhale
      lies a house where God dwells.


      He rests in the lull after
      the prayer and before the amen,


      and curls up in the darkness
      between the match strike and the flame.


      He reclines in the crevice
      made by gently-held hands


      as well as in the instant
      between eye-close and kiss.


      Sometimes He hides in the furrows
      among ripples on a pond


      or in the head of a candle snuffer—
      yellow glow turned to smoke.


      Even a ubiquitous God
      has His favorite hiding places


      where He prefers to spend time
      while he’s also everywhere else.


      St. Dominic’s Patio Chair


      I have spent hundreds of hours
      praying in the blue patio chair
      in my office—across from the bookcase


      filled with rolls of duct tape and fishing
      gear and a tub of spackling paste. Plastic
      mesh pulled tight between powder-coated


      metal arms and legs—arms just far enough
      apart so my elbows don’t touch them
      when my hands are folded in my lap.


      Hands lie nestled one inside the other,
      fingers never intertwined; bare feet
      shifting back and forth on the carpet


      like grazing animals, until they find
      their perfect spot. Is it a paradox
      to find my sweet Lord’s presence


      in a place designed for drinking beer
      between games of cornhole? I wonder
      if the chair misses its compatriots, exiled


      outside in the rain around the umbrella
      table. Perhaps it is they who think
      the indoor chair has been exiled.


      St. Dominic surely would have included
      my chair in his nine ways of prayer,
      had he sat in it for only a few minutes—


      inserting the chair sitting position between
      standing erect with arms outstretched
      and reaching towards heaven like an arrow.


      When I get to Heaven and find
      a place prepared for me, I hope
      that place has a blue patio chair,


      for there are times when I imagine
      worshiping God for all eternity
      sitting in this chair. And I hope


      in Heaven, I meet St. Dominic
      so he can try my chair and comment
      how comfortable it is and how his


      elbows don’t touch the arms, as I watch
      his feet graze the floor before settling in.
      But for today, the chair and the bookcase


      and the rain outside are mine, as I sit
      with the Lord, my soul resting
      in a chair disposed to prayer.

      The Longest Road


      How many days did he walk,
      mulling over words he would say
      to a father scorned and insulted?
      Replaying scenarios in his mind.


      Still so focused on himself
      all he could think of was,
      “I will say this and he
      will probably say that.”


      Reliving each burning memory.
      Scourging himself for past deeds.
      Recreating pain and misery.
      Kindling the blaze of a private Hell.


      And if for a moment he considered
      forgiveness, he quickly threw fuel
      on his pain until it exploded
      with all thought of mercy consumed.


      At home, a father’s love burned.
      Thinking only of his son’s return,
      not a second spent on past deeds—
      the fire of hope sustained him.


      A father filled with the
      cremating blaze of compassion,
      turning all memories of sin
      forever into ash.

      One Thing Remained


      Thumbs pressed firmly on his eyelids,
      fingers wrapped over his ears,
      while the crowd rustled and murmured
      amid the sweat and dust.


      Why had he answered, “yes,” when asked,
      “Do you believe I can do this?”
      He didn’t know if he really believed
      or simply had a desperate longing—


      if there was even a difference
      between the two. For seventeen years
      he had grasped at straws; deceived
      by both physicians and Pharisees.


      When the stranger said, “Let it be
      done for you according to your faith,”
      the man wondered if it was mercy
      or if he was being mocked for his lack


      of conviction; having so often been taunted.
      Memories swelled—dreams of the torrent
      of light that might again fill his body.
      With eyes still shut, he feared hope—


      as the years had taught him to fear it.
      Yet only one thing remained: To open
      with even the smallest scrap of trust,
      expecting brilliant blaze or enduring night.

      God Whispers


      When I told you My love was so great
      that I wanted to spend eternity with you,


      I didn’t mean an eternity at some far-off time,
      as if everlasting life was a clock wound


      by your death. Eternity began the day
      I conceived your soul—on that day,


      I unfurled within you, long before your birth;
      long before you first saw the world.


      Yet you forget our eternity is well underway,
      squandering our time as you imagine me


      in some far-off place, aloof and hidden.
      From your conception, no time will ever separate us;


      not a second of your earthly life or thereafter.
      You always have been and always will be



      Hanger Shirts


      Each year before school started, mother led
      him to the store, through the men’s department,


      past the boys’ clothing to the back room
      with the faded cardboard sign that said:




      He didn’t know what made him irregular—
      perhaps it was the birthmark on his left leg


      or the cowlick of hair he had to smash down
      with water each morning before the bus came.


      Heaps of clothing lay tangled in large gray bins,
      not possessing the common courtesy to line up


      for easy inspection on wooden hangers.
      Some pieces tried to escape over the bin edges


      and onto the floor, as if not even the shirts
      and pants wanted to associate with him.


      His mother plunged her arms deep
      into piles of cloth, like a scuba diver hunting


      for sunken treasure, trying to find a pearl
      that had gone undetected by other shoppers.


      As she grumbled, “awful button holes”
      and “horrible seam stitching,”


      he anxiously raised his eyes to see
      if any of the other customers had noticed


      he was irregular—the sign suspended
      from the ceiling like a lighthouse beacon,


      warning the richer families to stay away.
      He knew it was too much to wish


      for a hanger shirt: a shirt neatly pressed
      and arranged by size on a shiny metal rack.


      He had once asked his mother about hanger shirts
      but she had just shot him a look he knew meant


      he should be quiet and forget that question.
      Standing in front of the clothing bin, his head


      bowed, all thought of hope and hangers
      slipped away until a pair of pants hit him


      in the ribs, pressing his pendant Crucifix
      into his chest—the form of one irregular boy


      leaving its impression on another. And he heard
      his mother say, “Try those on in the fitting room.”

      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.

      Order the book from Amazon in print or Kindle formats. The book is also available from Amazon in these countries: United Kingdom / Canada / Australia / Germany / France / Japan / Italy / Spain


      “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, the reader will discover a means of transport into the center of the human encounter with God…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.”
      — Mark Danis, OCDS, co-host of the Carmelite Conversations radio program


      "Gorgeous Catholic poetry."
      — Leslie Lynch


      "If you are Catholic and think that you do not like poetry, this book will change your mind."
      — W.R. Rodriguez. author of
      The Bronx Trilogy

      "You have touched my heart, mind and soul with your unique prayerful poems in a way I can't describe."
      — Sheila Buska, author of Paul's World


      About the author

      While Tim Bete has been a writer for much of his life, he only started writing poetry after he entered his fifties and began spending a significant amount of time in silent prayer. The more time he spent in silence, the greater the ease he had writing poetry. In a way, Tim’s poems are his prayer journal. His desire for a deeper prayer life led him to become a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.


      Tim's poetry has appeared in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, the Poet and Contemplative Blog of the Discalced Carmelite Friars (Province of St. Therese), as well as in his first book of poetry, The Raw Stillness of Heaven. He is also Poetry Editor for and former director of a national writers' workshop at the University of Daytona Catholic, Marianist university.

      Tim's essays have appeared in several editions of the Amazing Grace anthology series (Ascension Press), Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Christian Science Monitor, and many magazines, including Writer's Digest and Tenkara Angler.
      He is also author of In the Beginning…There Were No Diapers, a book of essays on the mysteries of parenting (Ave Maria Press).


      Tim often trades poems with his oldest daughter, who is a Dominican Sister. He says she is the best writer in the family.

      Contact Tim