It is painful
what a thirty-year-old man
It is painful
It is painful
what a thirty-year-old man
Grant me the faith to believe that Life is stronger than death, and Love deeper than hate. Let me never abdicate my house to the hungry thieves that would rob each room of its particular treasure, and curse the one who lives inside as worthless, no more than an empty purse, a justly abandoned figure on a severed fragment of scorched earth. Let the figure refuse the facile fabrication of an identity based on feelings of uselessness and ugliness, but rather let these feelings pass. Let them move through the physical body like a river, however muddied, moves through a canyon, rather than harden into a dam of mind-made steel. O God, Creator of all that is good and real, without whom there can be no unity, let the faint beginnings of light seep through the cracks of my divided self and thaw the ice congealing in my heart. Bring me back continually to the depths of your peace in the present moment, and do not let your sun come up over the hill to shine through my window while I am lost in a state of war, with myself or with the world. Let me face each state, whether familiar and painful or strange and painless, with courage and compassion. Do not let me act from an unconsidered sense of lack, but let me look directly through that hole, like one whose right eye through the tiny lens of a telescope sees with a jolt the vast sky lit up at night, limitless and unimaginable.
The body pushed to its limit, and then some. The heart ambushed by loss. The mind confined to its narrow repetitive lines. Lord, you know how lost and impoverished I have become. How little is left here but a pitiful flood of unwept tears. What she said, and later regretted saying, is no less true. I have no direction. I don’t have it now, and I never did. So direct me, omnipotent Director. Let me loose to love and serve and give you glory. To live as a free man might choose to live. Let me not tarry here for longer than necessary. I have already done that, and then some. It’s getting late. November again, and thirty Novembers come and gone. And the late autumn wind, I don’t have a clue what it’s saying. I can’t decipher a tale of daring in its chill refrain. I can only read the numbers on the fraying calendar. And the numbers don’t lie. The numbers say it’s almost December. And I can’t remember why I’m here.
Without your sun, I become a hard knot of tension in a dark room with the windows shut and the shades drawn. Without your touch, I suffocate as I try to incorporate the abundant silence of dawn. Without your bread, I stuff my buffering brain with empty calories of heady knowledge. Without your breath, I gulp the humid air, straining to fill the floors in my body’s home, as if intending to hoard a diminishing commodity. Without your ear, I swoon on the seesaw of a thousand dualities. Dizzy as an erratic acrobat, I long to climb down off my childish contraption, surrender to the soft grass, and gaze up in wonder at the black sky, re-establishing contact with night. Only there, aware of my smallness and your grandeur, can I ask from the last dregs of my solitude: ‘O Most High, tender attendant of stardust, won’t you seal my heart’s cup? Let me end these litanies of lament, and glorify your fine handiwork.’ But how do I praise the sweet juice oozing from a plate of Mazafati dates, while I waste away in a fruitless desert? So many worlds of difference exist between taking the cup with a willing heart and sucking it down with a heartless will. Lord, let the seeds of willingness spill through the holes of this powerless body and grow fertile in the holy ground of my soul. As my physical form slowly declines, may my essential nature gradually arise, and may I ride that transmutation train through the dense towns of my pain, down into the sacred center of now.
I shrink back from my lack of direction. I blink once and come to months later, in the same exact location. Either I admit my honest terror in the face of barren obscurity, or I lock my soul in a windowless cell, and call it job security. Help me keep the faith I’ve never had. Help me feed the hope I’ve tried to kill. Hold me when I sweat through every pore, releasing the toxins that block me from breathing in your perfect air. Without you I become my song of lonely longing in the Texas night. If I must gnaw this bone without you, then send me deeper into the valley of separateness. Help me remember my thirst, whenever I pull from the well. Remember my hunger, whenever you ring the bell. Remember my poverty, whenever I cling to time. Remember my nakedness, whenever you house my mind. Remember my homelessness, whenever I find my home.
True voice of my deep heart, without which I lose touch with joy, existing without substance, without meaning, do not leave me forlorn, wandering the desert in mute resignation, aching within and without, nowhere at home. Speak to me, O voice of my heart. Speak in your wordless wholeness, in your broken language, and I’ll record in words what I hear in silence. Speak, O my heart, and I’ll write my way home.
Let the darkness of a solitary night unbind the chains and find the hidden pain in my deepest heart, the weeping son given all but that sole food his soul is starving for.
Silence without, silence within. The mind not dying to make itself up. The house quiet as an hourglass. The soft tap tapping of the rain. The mind not dying to make itself up A story of what is happening here. The soft tap tapping of the rain, The sound of the wind in the trees. A story of what is happening here Is not what is happening here. The sound of the wind in the trees Asking for nothing. Is not what is happening here A man sitting at his desk Asking for nothing? The rain stops, the wind dies down. A man sitting at his desk. The house quiet as an hourglass. The rain stops, the wind dies down. Silence without, silence within.
My heart’s happiness is trapped in my chest like a red-breasted bird whose vocal cords are shot. His dumb fate blocks him from singing out the songs of lament locked inside his throat, while numbing memories of the unrepeatable songs of praise he once sang as a chirping little one mock him mercilessly. The bird’s fixed idea of how impossibly filled with grace he used to be imprisons him in the silver cages of yearning. His magnetized mind takes flight from the muted now to the musical back then, and he feels no desire to come down. He feels the fire and the magic have forsaken him, and he aches to hear aloud the latent notes Time has pushed down to some hidden crevice of his being. He has gone deaf to the ever-present, everlasting Silence, which asks without force to inhabit him from the inside. Lord of bird and beast, let there be purpose and will to this creature’s suffering. Let him still rise and glide through the skies; let him still dive-bomb the earth; let him still play the role of high-flying bird, tied down though he is to the flights of his powerful reveries, left pining and unheard in his severed world of silence.
I wake in the evenings in this season of my life, an hour or two after the sun has gone down. I sit at the desk at night, and I lie back down as the sun climbs up the sky. I wake in the supple arms of a darkness distinct from every other darkness that has come before it, so why should I, and how could I, stay the same, as if I am not subject to the same law that keeps the seasons changing? The law of invisible evidence tells me I too am distinct, but not separate. No space exists between my essence and the presence of night, for I rest inside the pages of night’s book. It is a good night to stay within these lines.