Our future’s history

One dark night – I think it was in the early 20’s or just before – there was a great and terrible storm in Denton. It engulfed the whole city, especially the city center.

soldier monumentOn the south side of the square, there was a bolt of lightening as bright as the light on the Damascus road, and that young confederate soldier looked up. He shook his stone head and covered his eyes. When the flash and rumble had subsided, he put down his rifle and climbed down from that arch.

As he was climbing down, he stepped for a moment on the old water fountain on one side of the base of the arch and it crumbled under his weight. From it sprang an arch of water that sprayed up – higher than the stone arch, itself – and fell just to the other side. Seeing that, the young soldier moved to the other side of the arch and raised his foot and stepped down on the fountain on that side, crumbling it and releasing an arch of water that rose and joined the first in mirror image.

Suddenly there was another crack of lightening. It struck the stone arch and broke it into a thousand pieces, but the arches of water remained, dancing in the bursts of lightening that continued to spark the night around him.

Then Johnny went to work. He took the pieces of the stone arch and began to fit together a mosaic that extended up the sidewalk toward the courthouse. It was tedious work. He had to fit and re-fit the pieces until they came together well. As the night wore on, he realized that he would not be able to finish his work before daybreak, when the spell of his re-enchantment would break. He sat back in despair and dropped his head into his hands.

Then, slowly, he noticed dozens of other forms had gathered round him – men and women, boys and girls, a diversity of faces and voices. They all took up the task with him – fitting the pieces of the mosaic along the line of the sidewalk, moving northward. The continuing rain created a small stream that ran through their work, from the courthouse to the water-arches. The gathered throng finished the mosaic just as the rain stopped and the sun ran its rosy finger across the horizon.

Johnny stepped back to admire the view, resting his tired form upon the wall of courthouse, his feet planted among the low bushes that ring the building. A shaft of sunlight fell upon him and the spell was broken. Johnny turned back to stone. He stands there now, gazing out upon a different world than the one he knew when he was soldering. There is a new look of pride in his stance – one that sprang from his change of heart, from his awakening to a world where difference is strength and where the circle of his heart was expanded with one great lightening strike. It is the same world where we can learn and grow and work together, as our hearts, too, are changed.

The dawn now finds its reflection in the small stream that, miraculously, continues to run from the seat of justice to the water-arch. There, on a hot summer day, the children of Denton cool themselves as they splash together. They, in their laughter, continue to write our future’s history.

[images from the Portal to Texas History ]

my cavern

cavernI stand at the mouth of a cavern – huge, dark … powerful in its presence and mystery. I want to enter, something calls me in, but I am also fearful. If I walk this path, will I soon get lost amid the stalagmites and stalactites and crevices and boulders that lurk within the shadows? Will I fall or be trapped? Will I simply wander to no avail?

Yet, there is this call, not really audible, just a tug upon my soul. I take a deep breath and step toward the dark. And in that first step, I feel my heart open just a bit – or perhaps it just softens. It is an almost imperceptible move, like the coming wakefulness of morning, arising from the deepest sleep to the next level, just below awareness.

I take another breath and resist the urge to steel myself. It is not about holding tight, but letting go. Another breath, another step, ears on alert, heart inching ahead of my frame, I move. One slow step at a time, searching … or, no, opening, I move.

This is different. I somehow know that this is not a process where I will find something, or figure it out, or come to understand. This is a process in which I will be changed, opened, melded.

It has taken these few steps for the whole sense of this call to change. I am not called to some great mission, to some accomplishment that will be a offering for you. I am called to become someone different, someone melded, molded, reconstituted into a vessel, or … not so much a container for something other than I am, but a container that is an amalgam of me and you – a container that can now hold something that could not otherwise be held.

Beheld… that word, itself, turns a corner in me. If I let myself be seen – and the darkness provides a bit of a robe for my nakedness even as I shed my successive layers of protection – if I let myself be seen, I will become more of myself. Beholding as creation.

And beholding goes both ways. As I find my way through a successive unmasking of my very self, I find my way to you, as well. You dwell in truth. An honest soul, and only an honest soul, can truly encounter you. It is a law of the spiritual realm – that truth is a prerequisite.

Yet truth alone, sterile and hard, will not suffice. Somehow, honesty must be mixed with the affirming pulse of life itself, the truth of true connection, where the coming together is full and free and beautiful. Some would call it love, but even that word seems too light a thing.

And now all my words fade to mere filaments of hope. They cannot really do justice to what is.

I stand, naked, in the dark, still shedding layers of presumption and constraint. And the darkness, itself, a deep and quiet and holy darkness, swirls around me, urging union, promising completion.

Slowly the darkness becomes light. Turns out the darkness was within me, and I have begun to shed it, ever so slowly. The light begins to smile upon me, to welcome me, to make its way into me. My growing honesty is, at last, allowing me to embrace – to be embraced by – the truth of you.

This process is not done, but it is begun. And I am glad.

My soul, a bit raw from this successive unveiling, feels closer to itself. It confirms a truth that has long dwelt with me. I have no words. Except, perhaps, ‘thank you.’

[photo by Emily Mocarski per cc 2.0]

a Narnia encounter (5)

 

giant's wonder[This is a continuing meditation. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here; part 3 is here; part 4 is here]

A day has come and gone. The giant is beside me and we are sitting together in the clearing. He says that the magpies have brought a message that there will be an assembly tonight. He hugs his knees and rocks himself, humming softly a rumbling tune. There is a eagerness in his presence that is hard to miss.

“What will happen at the assembly?” I ask him.

“We shall see, we shall. “ he replies.

“Couldn’t you give me a hint?” I find my impatience rising, again. Seems I never quite learn.

“A hint? I just told you what will happen – we will see.   Really see. We will know what is to be done. We will see the Lion. Really see him. With our own eyes.”

“Have you never seen him?” His eagerness reminds me of a child, ready to open a gift.

“Not till tonight.” He closes his eyes to get a bit closer to the coming moment. I close my eyes as well and listen to his rumbling melody. At first is sounded rather clumsy, but when I let myself relax into it, a hidden majesty is evident – a majesty born, not of titles and honors and acclaim, but of humble service done with dedication. His simple faith is pure and strong, much less complicated than my own, or so it seems.

Eyes closed, I lean back into the rumbling melody as if into a chair. It holds me up, comforts me, builds me.

“Thank you for the tune,” I say aloud.

“I learned it from the mountains,” comes his reply. “The waterfall at Deista sings it, too.”

It starts to hum itself within my heart and wakens emotions that lie dormant there. Wonder, awe, excitement and solemn ecstasy compete to fill my heart. I sit beside the giant and begin to weep.

He looks at me with a knowing smile. His eyes are also damp. “When He begins to play his tunes within your heart, it stretches you, it does, until you ache with joy. He must make room, you know. He is coming.”

 

[image edited from photo by Rach per cc 2.0]

Follow the Song

through the plainI wake on the plain, beside the angel. The fire has died into ash-covered embers and the night sky has begun to fade to morning. The angel is sitting, back to the fire, looking out into the plain. He is robed already and has his staff in his hand. He looks at me and smiles. We gather our supplies, cover the fire, and begin the day’s journey.

It is a pleasant walk at first. He is humming softly to himself and the air is almost sweet with the fragrance of the wet grass. My feet are damp with dew. I shift the pack upon my back, balancing it on my hips, letting the shoulder straps lie slack.

The pack creaks softly as I walk. The weight of the backpack is so much easier to carry when it fits well.

On we walk, step, step, step, forward on the faintly visible path. If the angel were not guiding me, I would not really be able to tell the path from the ruts of dried streams and the passageways of animals who cross the plain in their daily search for food. My own path is hard to discern among the others. But the angel is confident and strides forward in even, unhurried, but determined steps.

“How do you know the way'” I ask, “since all these patches of earth look the same?”

He pauses on the trail and looks down. “The ground does look the same,” he observes. “That is not where the path is marked. It is written in my heart. I follow his call and not a path. Do you not hear it?”

I strain my ears, but I am not aware of any call, of any sound to guide my steps. I shake my head, a bit chagrined. It’s obvious that I am a novice here.

“Then I will teach you to listen,” the angel replies. He begins to hum. “This melody has been sung throughout the ages in response to the majesty of God. It springs forth when his presence is seen. Its tune, its cadence, its underlying essence is the pattern for your call. Learn the song. Sing it to yourself.”

“The song is my call?” I ask. “The same song of the ages, the same call?”

“No,” the angel replies, “the song only reveals the pattern in which your call will come and acquaints you with the essence it will bring. You learn from the song to recognize your own call when it comes. The song trains your inner ear to hear the call of God.”

“When will he call?” I ask.

“He calls you now.”

I feel desperate. “But I cannot yet hear it.”

“He knows and he will call until you hear. Be patient. Trust him to teach. As long as your heart is directed toward him, you cannot fail, for he is your partner in your journey. And he never fails. He is still creating you, with your cooperation. He tunes your ears, your heart, to hear the melody, to play the melody. Then you will find your purpose, and others will use your melody to find their own.   As long as you desire to follow, he is patient to lead. You demonstrate your desire; indeed, you fulfill your desire by singing the song that tunes your ears to his call.

When you have learned to recognize it, you will hear and know.”

“Teach me the ancient song.”

“Listen.” The angel begins to hum an ancient and intricate melody, a rich history of faith played out in notes of strength and assurance upon the air. There is an essence in the song that speaks to my ears. I strain to hear and learn. The angel smiles and we begin to walk again. He is humming, and I, once in a while, can anticipate a note and join the song.

Don’t look to the earth to find your path. It is not there. It is being called forth within you by the partnership between his creative hand and your willing spirit. It fits you well. Rejoice in the process and in the promise of its completion.

1/11/95

[the photo is my own]

Hollows

cave on the beach
In this quiet hollow,
In this deep, still, place
My heart at first is quieted.
It gives up the rumble of my days
And the persistent picking of my thoughts
And the undertow of worry.
All these are splashed upon the shore like foam.
They dissolve upon the great beach of your
presence.
Until, at last, they simply flow in and out without
much noise.
They come and go, but do not call to me.

I find, at last a quiet space to be.
And there I sit and listen to my heart.
And to your whispered presence
In its hollows.

2 27 01

[photo by Kate McDonald per cc 2.0]

inside the storm

stormI am on the deck of an old wooden sailing ship, conjured up from memories of pirate movies. It dips and sways in violent motion and I cannot stand without great effort. I am thrown against the mast and against the railings. I stagger and slip. There is a howling wind around me. It whips my hair and blows great sheets of water over me, drenching me with cold, wet saltiness. Then I am thrown again. I raise my voice to cry out in the storm, but though I am shouting, no sound can be heard above this turmoil. No one can hear my cry.

And I have no idea how to use the ship, how to steer, how to guide its passage. I am stuck here till the storm subsides. So I retreat inside the cabin and shut the door behind me. Two steps inside and I stop to listen. I had expected the same violent movement within the cabin – after all, it is a part of the ship in this storm. But it is calm in here. The lantern hanging from the ceiling sways in a comforting, slow rhythm. The wind is not whistling through the cracks. I look out the window and see that the storm is still in progress, but it cannot penetrate the quiet of this cabin.

I sit down at the table to rest and to take stock of where I am, of what is happening. There is a meal spread simply before me: manna and cool water. I begin to eat. My first bite stops me. A prayer of relief tumbles from my lips. I put my head on the table and sob with release from the pounding of the storm. I cry until there is no more tension within me and then I move to a bed which is secured to the wall and fall into its billows. I cannot move. Just before I slip into sleep, I whisper. “Thank you. Even within the storm, you provide an inner room of comfort and of rest. You give me peace, without which I am overcome.”   I release myself to sleep, without fear of the storm, which I know I must face again tomorrow. Its bluster can wait. Today I rest.

8 11 95

[photo by Greg Moore per cc 2.0]

learning to let go

meadow's songI sit below the tree in my meadow and look up at its deep green leaves. They are full and strong, but showing a bit of the wear from the recent winds. Then, among the branches just at the tip of one of the limbs, I see a movement. A small fairy emerges from among the green and sits upon a twig.

“Hello,” I say.

“Hello,” she answers.

I wait for something else. She sits awhile and smooths her wings and then, catching the fiber of a spider’s web, she slides down to the ground and sits upon a small stone at my feet. She sit cross-legged and alert. Listening to every sound.

“Hello,” I say again.

“Hello,” she responds, politely, and then puts her finger to her lips and motions for me to listen.

I strain my ears, but I hear no sounds beyond the common meadow sounds: the rustling leaves, the swish of the wind upon the taller grasses, the birds, the insects. The meadow is alive with sounds that I usually do not notice, but there seem to be no unusual ones here, today.

We sit and listen to together. She flies to my shoulder and speaks in a low tone into my ear. “Listen to the ordinary and find more.” She is gone.

Find more… I listen again and hear no other sounds. I strain my ears for hidden words, but none are there. Slowly, though, as I listen, I begin to note just how the sounds blend and move together. The rustling of the trees and grasses rise and fall together with the rhythm of the wind. The wind, too, brings the songs of the birds more clearly and then muffles them again. The wind is directing the sound symphony. It is not a collection of separate sounds but a concert, a musical comraderie, an interweaving of each into a whole.

This is must be the message I am to hear today – I must listen for unities, for wholes, for rich patterns blended from individual fibers. I sit and close my eyes. I feel the sway of the sound and deep from within I hear an echo of its rhythms, the pull of its movements.

I find that I am no longer just listening. I have become one with the symphony. I exist as one, but not alone. The me of my consiousness blends, but does not dissappear. It lends its tone to those around. I have become a part. I am not separate and alone; I am not independent and self-sufficient. I give and take in the symphony, not in a series of trades and bargains, but in an unbroken exchange of the essence of self, broadened and deepend by sharing.

When I try to close my hands around this concept, I loose it. I must remain open, giving and receiving, part of the flow. I cannot step outside and evaluate. I must be, instead.

I shake my head to clear my thoughts and find that I have broken the spell. “What is this?” I ask my meadow, my tree. This letting go is a fearful passage. How do I know I am not abandoning myself to some beautiful deception, some strange spell?

Yet, somehow I know that here, in my meadow, I can risk letting go. Caution is fine, but fear impedes progress. I can let go into his melody. I will not forsake what is real; nor will I be forsaken.

I let myself go into the sound and feel myself drop into its enormity like droping over the edge of a waterfall. I am surrounded and engulfed, but not distroyed. I am bigger in a way that is unfamiliar to me: not apart, a part. It does not diminish me. It enlarges me. I do not understand, but I rejoice… and wonder.

8/14/95

[photo by muffinn per cc 2.0]