Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Soul's Arrow

             NIGHT TRAIN

still riding on after so many stops
just a few other passengers

dozing    reading     lost in thought

pitch black outside    now and then
a distant light flickers past

the rhythmic clatter of wheels

no before     no after
only this journey   my soul's arrow

hurtling toward its final bull's-eye


Fare forward, travellers!
Not escaping from the past
Into different lives, or into any future;
You are not the same people
Who left that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus,
While the narrowing rails
slide together behind you.

-- T.S. Eliot --


     I journey on through mostly darkness now. The clamor and excitement of noon are long gone. Sunset's ruddy, pervasive glow, casting ever-lengthening shadows, is also past. Only dusk's faint, violet glimmer still lingers in the west. My soul's arrow flies inexorably toward its final target, whatever that may be, where it waits immured deep in the pitch-black of midnight--strange, summoning, mysterious, unknown.

     The mind obsessively circles back around to earlier junctures on this pilgrimage--perhaps a crucial turning point when something sacred was shattered and my existence altered forever; maybe a life-sustaining watershed where a smile or word or touch unexpectedly opened up a whole, new, scintillating world.

     Or else the mind compulsively gropes forward, anxiously probing into the enormous, looming void, struggling to discern in that indecipherable text the barest outlines of a readable--and therefore predictable and controllable--personal fate. Yet wherever the mind tries to seduce it to go, my soul understands only one place and one time--the incontrovertible Here, the incontestable Now.

     This reality I breathe is paradox--each instant both arrow and target, journey and destination, direction and rest. I'm an incorrigible nomad; yet at the same time, whether I realize it or not, I'm eternally Home.

     The key to achieving a balanced, actualized and creative life: to willingly, even gladly, embrace this paradox, heel-and-toing it on the tightrope of moment to moment change, growth and becoming which twangs between a chasm of challenging struggle and adventure on one hand, and a sanctuary of healing grace and serenity on the other.

     Yet ironically, it's precisely the Here and Now--this way station poised right at the crossroads where time and eternity meet--which has always proved my hugest, most impenetrable blind spot. My thoughts and feelings scramble to focus anywhere else, no matter how illusory or agonizing, rather than surrender their frantic ransacking of past and future. Only when they're humbled enough to do so however, can I gratefully hone in at last on this boundless, incalculable present--and Presence--toward which all roads inevitably converge.

     This is my trial, and also my blessing. I'll always be a rough and ready explorer--and at the same time I'll always be a solitary stay-at-home. A vital part of me longs to discover what lies beyond the next horizon; but an equally essential part wants only to remain motionless, centered, complete and self-forgetting--"cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown."

     So my soul's arrow hurtles onward, while simultaneously it strikes home--quivering to rest at last in the dead center of that final bull's eye.


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