Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Knife -- With Wings

    Depending on the kind of knife, it can be a life-saving implement. But it can kill too -- sometimes without justice or mercy. As such, it's both artifact and symbol, a freighted metaphor for the divided soul of our species.


    but what kind?    dagger    machete    butcher    switchblade    scalpel    stiletto?    what about that Hopalong Cassidy pocket knife I gave away long ago?    this tool's a parable of our humanity    or our inhumanity    it can slice save hack heal defend kill    we started with a sharpened stone    now we slash with laser beams!    I love the uses a knife can have    yet the mere thought of a paper cut sends shivers down my spine

     among other meanings the gesture of open hands says:    "I hold no knife."    but a knife can be hidden away in the heart    a knife no one else ever sees can leisurely slice us into bite-size pieces only fit for feeding the crows    I've walked around for days before realizing a knife was stuck in my back    looked at another way though a knife can divide the corrupt from the healthy    the false from the true    and this is good    a necessary thing

     when we meet for the first time please bring no knife and I'll do the same    it's important we possess one but dangerous for it to possess us    I knew a knife once which couldn't decide whether it wanted to help or hurt    like many mercenaries it was pulled this way and that    finally I said:    "I'll carry you at my side    but only if you consecrate your blade to carving more Light into this world"


     Once I had a dream in which I said to my mother: "You will never understand me unless you accept that I'm not just a human being, I'm also a Winged Being." This might be the single most important truth I've had to discover and actualize in order to continue to spiritually evolve.


     today I feel stripped of my wings    I'm earthbound and flailing    whenever I try to take off I scarcely rise before the inevitable nosedive and crash    I know I was born to fly but I've suffered too much damage    also there's the clumsy weight of all my faults and stumblings    wings are meant for airy creatures    light-hearted beings    not battered old warriors    my scars make me heavy    they drag me down

     yet Angels attend me    arriving through some chance angle of starlight they suddenly stroke my face with their scintillant wings    always they remind me I'm more than just my mortal hungers and fears    that the impossibility of flight isn't thwarted by how relentlessly time corrodes my bones    flight is the pure signature of Grace    it's given only to a naked    empty    and surrendered soul

     a day will come when I'll inherit my wings forever    if not in this life then surely the next    all our flightless groping is a hard but necessary school    truly I'm never more aware of my pinions than when they're useless    when strain as I might    I can't spread them wide and take to the sky!    one morning though the last freight of shadows will fall from me    the last feathers of darkness will drop from my wings


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Choosing Red


     I'm choosing to write this now even though a lost part of me doesn't want to    a heavy part of me is tired and discouraged and doesn't see the point of trying to quarry inadequate words to express unpalatable feelings    a defeated part of me just wants to turn away    lie back down on the bed    and stare at the ceiling    instead I'm sitting here hunched over the keyboard    reporting for duty once more

     committing to a choice means walking alone into the desert carrying little water and no map    it's not meant to be safe or comfortable -- not if it's about important things    the thirsting body must soldier on nevertheless    the needing heart must still endure its neediness    I don't even know where I'm going    but I'll recognize my destination when I get there

     no definition of being human makes any sense if it excludes responsibility for choosing    choosing with total consciousness    even choosing at times against the fierce headwind of my own resistance    the brute negation of the world's    by writing this I choose to keep exploring    I grope toward a Reality beaconing beyond what's human    but only by plumbing the depths of my humanness will I find it



     like these sliced strawberries on my cereal    or the agitated flag that enrages a bull    whatever it's up to    this color's flagrant -- shameless!    unless it's mixed thoroughly with the browns and grays of earth    otherwise this color says  "stop!"  "pay attention!"  "danger!"  "be careful!"   but not always    sometimes it just means that Love's thrown on her most extravagant finery    she's itching to step out and strut her stuff!

     there's no way to forget this is also the color of blood    nifty to imagine -- coursing out of sight through veins and arteries    but then there's blood which should stay inside but insists on bursting outside    there's all the bloodshed from all the atrocities committed in a cruel and barbarous age    that red's so numbingly pervasive it's nearly invisible    except to those who've already been wounded awake

     my favorite character from the whole world of red sports wings    he perches on a high branch and lets loose a cascade of piercing notes -- downright ear-catching in their outrageous crimson!    no wonder we call the most saliant issue "the cardinal point"    I think this messenger's sent to remind me:    every color is grace made visible    a sacrament refracted by the prism of my soul


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Point Of Flames

     Most people most of the time don't get the point. They don't get it because they're too busy brooding about the past or worrying about the future. But the real Point is only, and always, in this immediate, unrepeatable instant--here, and now.

                          THE POINT

     what's the point    that's how I feel this morning    facing the not quite blank computer screen    what's the point of struggling to wrestle    coax    conjure these words into a work of art which few will read and even fewer care about?    if I stop now    balked by the price of commitment    what could it matter?    why do I come back again and again to the same departure point    forced always to start over from scratch?

     except    there's a point I haven't reached yet    a truth so clear    so simple    my words would finally grow transparent    their meaning's incandescent core blaze through    I know I'll never attain such perfection    but if I stop trying I'll shrivel up inside    I'm not just a thing or process but a sort of breathing window    a living prism angled to refract the rarest wavelengths of Light

     I'm also a troubled creature who's slipping and sliding toward death    whatever the point is    this too is part of it    both eternity and time are part of it -- two worlds reconciled only in the stringent play of paradox    facing a nearly filled computer screen I return once more to this day's essential labor    what's the point?    the point is the choice I make each unrepeatable instant to say yes    Yes


     "What is to give light must endure burning" wrote Victor Frankel. And Rabindranath Tagore wrote: "Evidently the only way to find the path is to set fire to my own life." Have you set fire to your own life yet?


    still haven't learned    when I touch fire it burns    still believe next time I'll have asbestos skin    or else the flames won't be scorching but cool like a lover's fingers caressing my face    we're always burned alive by something aren't we?    lust or rage or terror licks at our heart and we shudder    knowing we're defenseless    knowing we could sacrifice our last hope to that devouring inferno    adoring it    shameless as straw

     I'm a breathing bundle of flames searching for a braver reason to burn    I'll wind up crisped to a cinder anyway    the kicker is Why?    back and forth I waver    here and there    sampling this addiction    that obsession    dithering over a compulsion or two    I'm a magnetized compass needle    a vector lurching every conceivable wrong direction before surrendering to true north

     so there's burning    and there's burning    a burning that's slavery    a burning that's freedom    I've tasted both    I can tell you about temptation    possession's a vile old hag yet she knows just how to stroke me    such bitter ecstasy -- writhing in lava's oblivion!    but some other burning's grabbed hold of me now    the purging flame which consumes all ephemera    until nothing remains but my incandescent soul


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Thorn Of Meeting

     A long time ago I learned that I can't glory in the rose's blossom without also accepting the rose's thorns. The one is as essential to the wholeness of my life as the other. Here's a meditation about this truth.

                          THE THORN

     I don't try evading it anymore    the thorn's always been there    always will be    just when I think it's gone    that's when the fierce familiar point pierces my skin    I don't know why this keeps happening    maybe it's the sadistic amusement of a bored adolescent god    stick--moan    stick--moan    actually I think I extrude the thorn from somewhere inside    I realize it's as much a part of me as hunger    pain    death

    today like any other day I want to be happy    I was drop-kicked out of Paradise before I knew it and I long to go back    I want to joyride the only car on a six-lane superhighway    to gorge down seven-layer chocolate cake all the time but never get sick    to be adored by a sex goddess half my age who's forever blind to my feet of clay    in other words I still don't even understand what true happiness is

     so it seems I must be grateful for this inescapable thorn    must grit my teeth and moan "thank you!" each time I flinch at its bitter little puncturing    thank you thorn for once more pricking me awake    thank you for goading me once more from my obtuseness and egotism and complacency    without you thorn I'd follow my snout into the nearest gaudily camouflaged snake pit    thank you thorn for the sting of your Grace


       Our days are filled with fateful encounters. We meet someone or something just about every waking minute. Yet how awake are we to the depth of potential meaning in each?


     there's only meeting    meeting you    or meeting the self who refuses such meeting    meeting God or else the void of God's absence    meeting my life as new and unpredictable each moment    meeting my death in countless big and little rehearsals    like this rash on my right foot that's flared and faded over and over for a dozen years    I can't exist without relating to someone or something    and all relationship is meeting

    when I meet you it's always for the first time    neither of us are who we were yesterday    nor who we'll become tomorrow    there's that same familiar face and voice    those same unique quirks and gestures    yet beneath them    beyond them    always    lives an impenetrable mystery    who are you right now    this unrepeatable instant?    who am I?    who will we each become before the next first time we meet?

     you could say everything boils down to a crucial choice    I can risk all with radical openness    meeting the Unknown at the core of each authentic encounter    or I can pull in    wall out    shut down    I've done both and can tell you they define the difference between heaven and hell    how do I experience the essence of meeting?    naked    empty    exposed    vulnerable    I turn within    bow to the Sublime