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]

honest encounter

contemplation

So, here is my quandary:
I want to come to you in honest embrace,
But honesty is so hard.
My nakedness is far too embarrassing.
Yet only naked honesty is worthy of your time … or mine.

It is not your mask I desire, but your dear face.
And your touch, not upon a fancied-up painting of myself,
But on my very soul.
I cannot send a proxy to encounter you.
I must come, myself.

And that is my deepest hope and greatest fear.
If I really come, will you embrace?
If you were to turn aside, my soul would die.
Yet, if I do not come … I’ll starve.

Holy one, you can see the mess I’m in.
What shall I do?

Shhh, my little one. Shhh.
I can see the mess, it’s true.
But I have embraced your naked soul from the moment I called it forth.
Never has it left my loving gaze.
Never have I turned away.
Never have I felt disgust or even mild disdain,
For you are precious to me.
Sometimes, though, I must admit, the silly costumes you try on
Can make me shake my head in wonder.

Know this – though the world may object –
You are my creation and bear the imprint of my love.
Relax in my embrace, and even the things within yourself that make you cringe,
Even those … can be redeemed, renewed, and reconciled.
All, all, all can grow luminous in my love –
And in that light, all will seem as a gift.

I do love you.
You, you, very you, I do love.

My love is the very essence of who I am –
the ground of your own creation –
and the undeniable reality of our every encounter.

It cannot be otherwise.

 8 21 13

[photo by Doc List per cc 2.0]

hard things

let go
One of the hardest things to do is to let go.
It seems an abdication.
Irresponsible.

But, when I cannot actually be responsible for it all,
It may be good to let go my desperate grip.
It might actually be wise and helpful.

So, how, exactly, do I let go?
Should I move my fingers just so?
Just what is the gesture of release?
See? I step out of one quandary into another.

Perhaps, if I would just accept the gentle embrace,
And return the love to its source,
Then letting go would simply happen.

Ok … so, how do I do that?
Again around the circle.
Dancing with the quandaries,
Rather than your grace.

Yep, letting go is a hard thing.
As hard as I can make it.

Did I just hear you chuckle?

[photo by Garrett Charles per cc 2.0]

first step toward wisdom

step oneMy brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:2-7

My brothers AND sisters, you say,
You of the ancient patriarchy.
Evidence of your own wisdom.

So … I ask, as you ask me to, for wisdom
But I don’t know how to do so without doubt.
Second guessing is second nature for me.

To believe enough to find joy in trial?
To let it test my mettle
And produce endurance, maturity, completion?

Your idea of ‘lacking nothing’
Seems pretty different from what I had in mind.
I’m wanting you to change the world – not me.

Yet, I am left with a decision:
Settle into discouragement, or find the joy.
Perhaps, that realization is the start of wisdom.

Perhaps the path will show the way.
Perhaps taking the first step is what faith means.
Hope takes my hand. Joy stands beside her.

We step together.

[image cropped from photo by In Transit per cc 2.0]

lists

checklistThere is a list of things I must do.
Then there is a list of things I should do.
And a list of things that it would be good to do.
And even things I’d like to do.

But contemplation does not work so well with lists.
Lists are handles – so I do not let things drop.
Contemplation is about letting go.

Something in me is afraid to just let go.
What if I forget? What if I neglect? What if …
What if I disappear?
What if, without my tasks, there is no need for me?

I find, at last, a momentary pause within my soul.
I slip into that corner and hunker down upon a small stool
I pull a sheet over my head to hide myself from my lists.

And here, fidgeting, fretting restlessly, I try to wait.
I breathe. I count. I try to still my soul.
It’s not working very well.
In my mind’s eye I lean my head back into your chest.
And whisper, ‘help.’
It’s not a loud, or insistent, or confident whisper –
It’s more like a whine than a plea.

I don’t expect an answer.
I’m not even sure I want one.
But – I realize this with a bit of a start –
My head is resting upon your chest.
My hope is resting upon your presence.
Which means, of course, that you are here.
You are here. I am here.

That’s a beginning.
Actually, that’s a completion.
Daily moment of contemplation … check.
What’s next on my list?

AAAUGH!

The only thing that makes me smile at the end of all this
is your chuckle in my ear.

[photo by Wendy House per cc 2.0]

Rainsoaked

rain soaked
The coat my consciousness wears in the rain
Is not really waterproof.
It catches the drops and holds them,
Growing darker,
Melding the edges of what I think I know
With a commentary that can enrich or destroy.

Sometimes the rain beats hard,
Sending pellets of ice into my heart,
Telling me that my words take up more room
Than they deserve.

And I believe it.
In fact, it is often my own thoughts that bring the rain.

The wisdom to know when –
When to amend
And when to keep to my own messy vision –
That wisdom often evades me
And I am left with a simple choice:
Say it anyway or keep quiet.

To say it anyway exposes me to the rain.
It demands that I dance within the storm.
It offers to cleanse me
But the scrubbing often hurts.
And parts of what I say will – should – wash away.
Leaving a fresher insight than before.
That which remains is strengthened.

It may even be that I don’t know what I’ve said
Until it rains.

I look up.
The rain is mixed with tears on my upturned face.
And I reach for my words, once more.
It is all that I can do.

[photo by Special per cc 2.0]

Tthanks to Maria Popova and Anne Lamott for the seeds of this reflection, here.]