Humble Warrior

For many long years, sleep did not come.  Now it is here, a sanctuary, an unremembered temple of well-fed lions. 

Summer comes, undeniable as the needs of body and soul.  We peel away her nightdress, and when she goes we go with her. 

There will still be times we do not feel supported by the earth, and contact with it will need to be reestablished.  There will still be times when pain holds us in its mouth like a whale, and we struggle to light our way so we might see better in the darkness of its belly.

The sun is rising, now, again.  The earth tilts on its axis, and that star is still there, incomprehensible fire of all fires at its center, and the fire moves ever outward, cooling equally, creating a roundness.

We owe our lives to the circumstances of the earth and the sun, to the distance between them.

It is morning and you are held in sleep.  I am held in my usual early wakefulness.  Calm water has eased my burning.  There is soreness in my body, and insect bites on my skin.

I eat up the world, and am eaten by the world.  A humble warrior does not forget to bow to all of it.

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Dreamdust

A dream of bamboo groves and flickering candles. A dream of sitting in meditation, of the alchemy of bees bringing about the reality of honey.

A dream of desire, awake and alive, of a sanctuary of sleep like a temple of wed-fed lions, of a heart containing both fire and calm understanding.

A dream of crouching down at the edge of water, of the sound of a bullroarer, of the coyote crossing my path and looking back, and he this night twitching as he dreams of the human crossing his path.

Dreams of the language of rivers, the lessons of mountains, the lumbering grace of knowledgeable bears, the songs of birds, the pulse of stillness, the rise and fall of tides, of breath, of energy.

And then the inevitable return. For after the dream, I enter myself again.

The Encounter

I stood in a glass house at the edge of the sea.

I watched as the tide rose, gradually swallowing the house, waves breaking against glass walls, and over the glass roof, booming, rattling, trembling.

Seaweed, rocks, shells, too many fish to count, so many colors.

Then came the crabs, starfish, anemones, cephalopods, sliding, clicking across the transparent roof, pressed up against the glass.

Then came the sea turtles, their old tough shells cracking the glass as the force of the sea slammed them against it.  The house was completely underwater now, and water began to seep through the cracks with mounting pressure.

My blood lurched through the veins in my neck.  I thought of running wildly from room to room, but just found myself standing perfectly still. 

I saw the small dark shape of a whale on the underwater horizon, the fluid border of sight.  I tried to blink it away, but it was still there, and it was coming. 

It swept nearer, loomed closer, until it filled my vision completely.  The transparent house was outside the whale’s awareness, so on it came, about to collide into the glass I stood behind. 

Friends, this is how it is to die and be reborn.

This is how it is, returning from the death of your animal nature.

First Light Splatters The World-Canvas

First, I dreamed that I wandered from room to room in a glass house at the edge of the sea, working with my fears and my desires the way a sculptor works with clay, the way a fly-fisherman works his line.

Then I dreamed of women, of all the sisters I have known.  They made a great circle around me and chanted Om three times.  My heart became a bird of many colors.  My rib cage opened and the bird flew up into the sky.  My tear-ducts ran themselves dry and the muscles of my eyes ached.  I knew I was alive.

Finally, I dreamed of bloodlines and of men, the many brothers I have known.  I dreamed that my father, my grandfather and my son all sat with me at a round table of thick dark wood.  At the center of the table was an elk heart with stones and feathers and seashells on it.  We each ate some of the heart.  I saw them all from a place of peace, a place where all my emotions and thoughts had become transparent.  A place where love runs freely without refrain, a river whose dam has been lifted, flowing with its natural movement restored to it.

Love, you are the answer.  Love, you are the way.  Love, you are the force that opens me.

I woke early to a lone bird whose song split across the darkness, as if repeating something I had yet to discover.  I had the feeling he knew it was spring.  Whatever he knew, or didn’t know, he was joined shortly thereafter by his own sisters and brothers to usher in the sun.

 

 

The Tourist

Why do I wake while morning is still night?

I grope along endless caverns, it seems, descending many fathoms deep into memories of the past, and dreams of the future, my hand outstretched, a flickering candle in the curl of my fingers.

Journeys that – in the present light of day – I struggle to recall.  And I am a tourist there, though I carry no passport and leave no footprints.

People whisper, muttering: “Oh, he looks tired.  Something wrong with him?”

Yet I just smile because I know my pockets were sewn with fortune-thread.  And I know I am the ragged onward-goer, the ever-forward marcher.

 

 

A Poem By Rilke

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that's wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots
embrace:

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.

from Rilke's Book of Hours



 

 

Open Up

Sometimes we are born with deep secrets.  Secrets we don’t even know we’re keeping, until they unveil themselves.  Startling surprises.  So open up, open up, roll back the curtain, don’t close yourself off, don’t shut down, don’t do it.  It is tempting to keep quiet and lay low, but let your heart take a few lashes, let all the voluminous light inside of you come out before your inevitable worldly departure.

Contemplate the line between who people think you are, who they need you to be, want you to be, and who you truly are.  Let yourself change, stretch out, grow, expand.

One would think that once your heart has taken its share of lashes, you might retreat, pull back, run for cover.  Never mind this, it’s only logic tugging at you.  Go up and out instead, run towards the fire.  Open up the wicker of your rib basket and pull your heart loose.  Set it down gently, still beating, in the eye of the whirlwind.

You never know when you might see yourself.  Not a glance, not an examination.  See.  What you once could have sworn was solid now reveals itself to be translucent.  What once looked to be a pillar of immovable strength now strikes you as fragile.  So take everything they think they know about you, every last scrap of how they think you should be, of who they think you are, and just burn it.

Don’t be frightened, it’s only death and resurrection.  Open up.