All day long, I see things a painter would paint. What is there to complain about? Even my own pain has been endured by thousands before me, and depicted by master sculptors.
Pilgrimage, penance, failure, learning to hold one’s self tenderly, in friendship – all these have relevance to my experience of life. Honoring the earth, or a Saint, or a God, a parent, a personal hero, the wind, rain dripping from trees.
Turning to look into one’s own heart, seeing what’s there. It is a brave thing to search your own soul. You will endure accusations of selfishness from others, and from your own mind.
We all just want a door to open and let the light in, but what if we are the door? What if we are the light?
To the world, I say I’m sorry for so many things. To the world, I also say thank you, thank you, thank you.
I stand on the mountain, one vast expanse of energy sweeping across the cosmos,
reverberating gratitude to the world that has sustained my physical form.
A life force unharnessed, a spirit no longer in battle against itself.
Having endured beyond tangible decay, I simply am.
Now every dawn over every land reveals itself to my sight.
Now every star’s ocean-sounding breath wends its way into my hearing.
Now every water flowing in every stream and fountain
that has ever been, or will ever be,
has become available to the mouth of my heart,
which is also the mouth of the Great Spirit
that chews, swallows, and digests
all creation and non-creation,
all being and non-being
in a wheel ever-turning.
May my heart light my way. May it come into a place not unlike the narrow line that exists between water and fire, a pocket of stillness where both forces are within reach. Then I could learn their ways, how to call on them, how to let them enter me, how to recognize which one is called for. Then I might discover how to refuse nothing, yet also how to hold on to nothing.
May my heart find peace. May it find a way to be supported by the great net of life – the embroidery of things – and not lose itself in the intricate mesh. Then it might remember to bow more readily, honoring what support it has already found.
Having lost my way many times before, may I more easily recognize those paths and not start down them again. May I light my way instead of losing it.
How unexpected of you, mother-in-law, to step outside onto the unwoven tapestry of fallen pine needles and ask me if I wanted you to make me a meatloaf sandwich.
Even as you recovered from walking pneumonia, even as you had yet to regain the energy to once again flour the counter and prepare the dough for your substantial bread, even as you had yet to carry out the annual reading of your Christmas book collection, or sound again the bright chime of your laugh.
I almost dropped my armload of cherry wood right then and there, as I carried it up stone steps from the top of the driveway to the little shed near the door where the axe is kept.
I was being given a second chance at having a mother, or at least the old long-lost feeling of it. For the moment I was a boy again, walking over a field in cutoff jeans, chewing on a stalk of wheat.
You never know where, or when, your life might be touched by the phenomenon of another human heart. You only know that you must fall onto your knees, raise your arms to the sky, and give thanks.
Then a short time came when I could sit and think about what it was I needed to say. I sat at my desk a moment, but quickly I was called away again by my many duties. The rhythm of what I wanted to tell you stayed fresh in my mind, though. Even through sleeping and rising and working until it was time to sink my head into a pillow and dream again, even through all that, the pulse and the meat of what I wanted to say kept itself tethered to the bones of my mind.
It was nothing so luminous as the movement of a lion’s fine hair in the wind out on the savannah, nothing so phosphorescent as the treetops under the sun this very moment. It was just that I couldn’t stop thinking of all this as an ever-present arrival and continuous departure.
An infant speaks its first words, incredibly. A shark smells blood and moves toward it. We are young and we long to be cared for. We grow old and need long silences to restore our weathered pilings. Our foundation – the underneath of us – can never be the same again. Our windows that once held panes of glass or were boarded up, now become receptive, open, vulnerable, and that is good and will help bring us tranquility, so we might become ordinary, a rake in the garden, a book on the shelf. Let us wander all the rooms of the world-house in astonishment, savor sameness wherever we find it, welcome both flood and fair weather.
A warm May evening startles me with its beauty, as you often do.
The birdsong, an affirmation.
Laughing water, a meditation.
Wine is soft. My cravings relax their grip.
A ripple in the grapefruit moonrise.
Medicine in the moment.
First we rise from the altar of the world, from where feathers, bones, and seashells are the castaways of fresh dreaming.
Next, we look around, and we see in color. One pigment is astonishing enough, but a whole multitude? It ignites us, the way laughter transforms an ordinary room into a healing temple.
Then we move. We ask a question, yet who would bring all mystery to ruin by desiring an answer? I have seen other worlds and, I tell you, this one is a place of worship.
Now we hunger, thirst, create, come alive, truly. Snip the bindings of rusty limitation. When the boundary between language and music dissolves, you know you’re someplace extraordinary. You’re traveling without maps, making conversation with the world.
Begin now, if you haven’t already. Sleep is coming for us.