Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guarding The Gateway

                    THE SENTINEL

not one redoubt left    not one
                              on this whole planet
nor in all history where the gods still live   undefiled

even a tree at night--flensed now
                                 by splintery mirrors

what were they but the offspring
of our infinite gaze
         bridges between worlds
                    when we believed in worlds

feeling so terribly small then was grace
not nightmare
        we curled deep inside
                the tall breathing of mountains

I keep searching for the doorway
    the wormhole
             the secret passage of their return

I'm a last sentinel 
             loitering at the gates to nowhere

don't expect from me a snicker-doodle
or even a kiss
       I'm not in my right mind
                   my heart feeds a strange fire

the gods the gods are coming back   
                                       I must be ready


There is a world beyond ours,
a world that is far away, nearby, and invisible.
And that is where God lives, where the dead live,
the spirits and saints...

-- Maria Sabina --
Mazatec Shaman


     Feeling terribly small can be an experience of grace, or a sojourn through nightmare. Everything depends on what I feel small in relation to. Our contemporary dread is rooted in a sense of paralyzing disproportion--we feel tiny, insignificant and powerless before enormous, seemingly all-powerful, depersonalizing forces oblivious to our welfare or, even worse, actively hostile.

     Yet there's another way of feeling terribly small which liberates us from fear. When I come home there, I open up inside, surrendering to a humble trust in my littleness. This consciousness is perfectly true and good--a recognition of just proportion, right relationship. Far from feeling insignificant and powerless, my limited, individual ego dissolves into an all-embracing Higher Self--the infinite, transcendent Source of that finite ego's very existence. Now, when "I" feel so terribly small it's an epiphany of amazing grace, because I'm in primal communion with an Immensity suffused by love, wholeness, freedom and joy!

     Almost everything in our 21st Century global civilization seduces or coerces us into perceiving our identity in relation to those enormous, external, all-powerful, depersonalizing forces. The consequence is grandiose self-inflation if I delusively believe they've finally anointed me; followed by crushing personal defeat when I discover it's now my turn to be crammed into the system's endlessly churning meat grinder.

     I'll never escape this heart-pulverizing cycle of ego boom and bust, until I conclusively break an addiction to defining my essence as someone or something I need or fear from outside myself. Ultimately, that way lies madness, no matter how compelling or alluring the idol may seem. I'm like a person searching for a priceless Treasure, who frantically looks everywhere--except the one and only place it can be found.

     Dying to my ego, being reborn to my spirit, is anything but easy. Old, stubborn, ingrained patterns die hard. Scarcely a day goes by I'm not either tempted by a familiar, intoxicating illusion, or derailed by a queasy, insidious anxiety--each threatening to drag me away from my spiritual center, my indispensable core. Maintaining such faithful soul orientation has never been easy at any time. But in our frenetic, alienated age it's dicier than ever.

     That's why I need a consecrated warrior standing guard over my soul--"a last sentinel loitering at the gates to nowhere." Through many long years of difficult, dangerous trial and error, this internal guardian has honed in on the secret portal, the vital conduit connecting my necessary, everyday, inescapable struggle with a profound, universal Reality that both transcends and redeems it. My soul's sentinel watches at this crucial gateway--to ensure it will never be transgressed, to make certain I can always cross its threshold again and be healed.


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