Winter’s Last Gasp

Winter’s Last Gasp

Franciscan Creation Spirituality Poetry

A Snowy Morning Observed from a Compar Chapel

The Gothic windows frame a sight

Of ever-wheeling flakes of white
Like flocks of downy geese come forth 
To fresh earth from the frozen North.
My knees are fixed on my prie-dieu –
– My eyes stray towards the snow-flecked view – 
But then I yield to unseen things:
The Bell of Consecration rings.

Looking out the Chapel window


This chapel’s screens and riddel posts
Compared to snowflakes, are but ghosts.
Each one, with such uniqueness carved,
Makes Compar’s* craft seem cold and starved.


And yet the God of Truth and Might
Descends now from a greater height.
More silent than the snow that drifts
Drops down the Lord upon the gifts.
The Examplar, Eternal Art,
From Whom each snowflake takes its part,
Now takes the place of gifts below
Whose substance melts away like snow.

Fritillaries in the snow

O Lord, you send no wintry pall
To cover up my every fall,
But join me to You, like the storm
Where earth and heaven lose their form
And snowy ground meets snowy sky
And no horizon meets the eye.

A tree blossoms in the snow

*Ninian Compar (1864-1960) was a Scottish architect of the Gothic Revival. He re-introduced the “English altar”, i.e. an altar surrounded by riddel posts, into modern churches.

This poem was composed by friar Peter George Flynn, OFM Conv. during a recent heavy spring snowfall in Oxford, England. friar Peter George is a graduate student studying towards an S.T.B. for priestly ordination. He is a student of the Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody of Great Britain and Ireland, studying at Blackfriars, a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford.

Winter’s Mortal Reciprocity

Although the heat of his spring may not yet be here, we suppose Brother Sun’s fair radiant light is enough,
enough to make one appreciate the crisp air, the cosmic inhale of a winter’s breath,
the kind that contuits a sigh of the moist Life-Breath shared among brother and sister creatures,
the kind Brother Wind caresses and conduces,
the very kind our ancestors took in,
the very same kind of which the Word partook.


The Now of God is a moment of profound intake, partake, and retake,
when breathing becomes the discipline of consorted concord,
if only we allow this great Life-Breath to dwell…
to dwell…
to dwell deeply within our fleshy-spirited repository.
Our nature.
Our creation.

There is where this Life, this Breath abides in the Gardener’s greenhouse,
the Cultivator’s conservatory,
the Potter’s hearth,
the Common Home of The consoling, uncreated Love.

This Love having percolated through the energies of Sister Mother-Earth is molded into the
moisture, the air which now wicks from your very being;
*Greenness…Holy Wisdom is now regenerated and held in the cosmic exhale which you requite,
a continuous balance,
an equilibrium,
a homeostasis encircled in the embrace of the Sublime Mystery, the Sublime History,
as the soul journeys into The Creative Humility.


This poem was composed by br. Cristofer Fernández, OFM Conv. during his novitiate year. friar Cristofer is an ecologist, a religious brother in formation, and a graduate student in Theology, Religion, and Culture studies at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He is a friar of the Our Lady of the Angels Province.

*Greenness: a term derived from the Latin “viriditas,” a word meaning vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure, or growth. A concept treated by German Benedictine Abbess, Saint, Doctor of the Church, Hildegard von Bingen, in her many writings, namely Scivias.

The novitiate experience is a year-and-a-day experience required of all religious (semi-contemplative for the Franciscans) prior to their admission into simple vows. friars Cristofer and Peter George were novice classmates in 2019. “The novitiate of St. Francis was the moment in time during which he fell in love with Jesus Christ and consequently embarked on a life-long journey of love and service following in the footsteps of his loving Lord.” To learn more about the novitiate, please visit our Franciscan novitiate website.