What do you see … the grass or the light?
And how do you see the grass without the light?
Or the light without the grass?
I 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.
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I 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.
My hands are dirty
My heart is muddled
My gift, impure.
And yet …
My space within the world could use a little kindness,
And so, I give my broken offering.
Not perfect, but still a contribution.
My piece, with yours.
The space between us,
Bridged with light.
To touch the wind
To carry the ocean in a cup
To lift a star from heaven and hold it close
To hold within my soul a whisper of God’s presence
All, so far beyond me
… and yet, my heart does yearn.
The very idea of God
I cannot grasp or define or describe
Words are too small, too constraining
God will not be pigeonholed.
Aslan is no tame lion.
… and yet, the wonder will not let me go.
How I think of God
Makes a difference in the shape of my soul.
If, I think first of ‘God hates sin,’
I find myself the hated one.
If, instead, am formed by ‘God is love…’
… well …
I cannot tell you what it means
For the creator to kiss my face.
I cannot tell you how it feels to be so held
That I come into being.
Could it be … perhaps … oh, my …
… that I am the very idea of God.
Oh Holy One,
I am lost in the wilderness.
I cannot see your hand or sense your presence.
My faith is hanging by a thread.
Yet, I desperately want to believe.
Where is my anchor if you are not there?
Where is my hope?
How can I take even one more step?
I take the next step because of beauty –
How it calls to me when it lines up into a resonant whole;
How the pieces answer one another in harmony,
How its fractal presence unites the big and small.
I take the next step because of love –
Because my heart calls to you and is not satisfied until you answer
Because there is a hole that can be filled with nothing else
And so, I must believe, or else I die.
I take the next step because of hope –
And somehow I know that hope is born of you.
It is your continued call, your whisper of promise,
That urges my soul forward.
And, though I stumble,
Somehow, I fall into your arms.
You came to the wilderness before me
And wait to catch me, even here.