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 ]

the whisper

mysteryThere is a holy whisper in the universe.
Sometimes it is hard for my heart to hear it.
Sometimes I even doubt its presence.
But then, I am overcome by beauty.
And I am reminded.
It is so.

Sometimes it seems I will be pulled apart by chaos.
So much in disarray.
So much violence and anger.
So much pain and terror.
But deep below it all, there is an anchor of truth.
It holds me, still.

I often wish for a different reality.
I even try to make it so.
But my small fictions cannot do the trick.
The real is real.
And the very deepest real,
Is a call to unity – even in the midst of chaos.

Much of that struggle and pain
Is created when my fictions strike up against yours.
Even so, the struggle and the pain are real,
They stretch and tear and bind.
They do hurt – immensely.
But they are not eternal.

How can I release myself to the seeming chaos?
How can I become a part of that deep unity,
Without loosing myself?
So, I continue to construct my fictional self
Out of the rubble of my efforts.
All to no avail.

I fight the inevitable
Like a small child fighting sleep.
I whine and struggle, rock and fidget.
I push against the embrace
Until I can resist no longer
And I fall into peace.

And here is the wonder of it all
I am held in the arms of truth.
The chaos is not random.
It tumbles into patterns of fractal beauty
Where I am both lost and found
And my heart at last can hear that holy whisper.

[photo ashokboghani by per cc 2.0]

[Thanks to Richard Rohr, in his meditation blog, for helping me begin to see.]

off to the mountains

I’m off to the mountains.
My soul longs to absorb the colors of the wild;
To sit in the presence of the mountain
And let it sink its roots into my heart.

The touch of that deep quiet has faded
And needs to be renewed
So that I, too, might be renewed.
The attention of my soul is too easily distracted
By the flash and dazzle of the market
And the vitriol and terror of the news.

So, I will sink my feet into the numbing cold of a stream
And let my soul sigh before a columbine.
I will relish the quiet conversation of friends
Whose voices carry the whisper of the divine.
I will remember the solid grace of solitude
And the gift of mutual interdependence.

I am grateful to be able to make such a pilgrimage,
In the company of others whose hearts are open to its peace.
There are no guarantees on the mountain,
Except that it is there – deeply, powerfully there,
And its gifts of beauty and grandeur and challenge and grace
Play upon the wind and call me to its depths.

I’m off to the mountains to store up images of hope
To feed my soul and smooth the edges of my anger
And give me a bit of grace to share.
I go in hope and confidence that it still has gifts to share;
That my heart will still be open;
That its terrible beauty will do its work in me, again.

I’m off to the mountains.

[so … no posts for a bit.]

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]

morning connection

morning sunrise

I stand on the hill beside the oak, arms across my chest, a little cocky. I warn myself to be careful about cockiness but I feel good – not defeated, not tired, not discouraged: good. I am ready for the day, pleased to be alive. That’s a surprise – no dread, no sigh. My head is buzzing from this feeling and it is strange enough that I feel wary about it. I drop my hands to my sides and stride off toward the well.

As I approach, my heart, still singing a light tune, feels the sense of awe in the amphitheater, and welcomes it. Awe and confidence at once. I come and seat myself quietly on one of the stone benches that surround the well. I watch the congregation gather. Angels, apostles, even animals come forward and find a place around the well. Everyone is quiet but there is a unsung song of joy on the hearts and faces of the crowd. On my face, too.

The well begins to overflow. The water rises slowly and flows over the edge in a clear smooth sheet. It gathers at the base and then flows off in a stream toward the edge of the meadow. One by one the members of the crowd go forward to the well and touch the surface of the water as it streams quietly over the edge.

Each one touches the well. Each one begins to glow with a soft light – it enters the fingertips and flows through the whole being of the one who is at the well. One comes and touches the water and then touches his own forehead. Another touches the water and touches her lips. A third touches the water and touches her heart. All, in turn, anointing themselves with the water and the energy that radiates from the well. All return to the congregation, take a seat and offer their hands to those seated next to them. Soon the whole congregation is holding hands and is surrounded by a faint glow.

Then the sun above the meadow breaks through a cloud. I had not missed it until it appeared, but now it’s brilliance shoots down and gleams off the surface of the well.

Suddenly the whole congregation bursts into song. It is a glorious, highly complicated melody where each member sings what seems to be a separate song, but, sung together, they make a whole of woven tunes so rich and yet so complex that the ear, not even the heart can really receive it all.

An angel on the other side of the well stands. He is seven or eight feet tall and towers over the congregation in great strength and beauty.. His face is both stern and soft, young and old, joyful and sorrowful. It is as if he holds the complexity and fullness of all of humanity in his features. He says, simply, “Today we take the time to rejoice, for it renews and completes us all.” He lifts his hands, as does the whole congregation, and they are pulled toward the sun and are gone.

I alone, am left on the benches. I still feel confident and strong, but I realize that my own piece in this complex web of life is very small. Humility and confidence have never sat so comfortably within me as they do now.

What a pleasant morning. What a blessing to be a part of the greater web of life.

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[photo by Norm Smith per cc 2.0]