Blessed Be This Day

Lord, help me encounter fully this clear sky, the warmth of this spring day, the silence. I am most myself when I praise the beauty outside myself, and in that song of praise, enter more deeply the beauty within myself. I am within the world, not like a prisoner in a bolted cell, but like a swift gazelle in an open field. Let each leap and bound be a prayer unbounded by words or rituals. Let each breath be deep and visceral, not pressed in like a vise grip and squeezed out like a gasp. Let the vase on the windowsill be hollow and translucent, so the light of the sun can shine through it. I want to taste the juice going down my throat. I want it on my tongue. I want the truth sung with the deceptive power of the receptive spirit. I want to hear it every moment, so I can bear witness to the flame that grows when I hold my shame with kindness, when I notice my blindness and shed another scale from my eyes.

The time is now. It’s enough to make a man weep. It’s enough to sweep away the cobwebs when you can, so the window is fit to see through. The rope of faith may be a narrow tightrope stretched across a canyon, but there is no soul too confined it cannot someday shine with the glory that is not mine, not yours. It’s not time that brings me into this moment. There is no time now, but too soon I know there will be again, and I will feel like I am breaking, stretched on a cross between past and future, walking that tightrope, unable to get to the center and enter my own soul, and live from there in peace. If I live in fear, there is no place, no person, and no thing that will ever satisfy me. I know this, but I do not know this in a deep and enduring way. So I’ve got to go again, so I can miss you again. I’ve got to kiss you for the first time, again and again. I want everything to feel like it has never happened before. And none of it has, or all of it has. All I will ever have is less than you could ever deserve, but make me yours anyways. My need to feel shored by you and sure of your affections, to feel reassured by your constant presence, is not the true need, but it sure is a compelling substitute.

Beloved, pierce this fiercely resistant bubble with your subtle touch. Even that is much more than I can bear. Help me bear it. Help me see you, rather than stare through you. I care more than I am capable of understanding, from the vantage point of this cold dark cave. I must cave in without excessive deflation. I must stand up without excessive inflation. This station is a point on the way.

Blessed be the day when my heart is not tied up in knots; when my mind, like this sky, is wide open with imageless vividness; and when my body feels fresh, as if I could run forever and not grow weary. Blessed be this day.

Separation from Hope; Refusal to Confide; Hunchbacks in Chains; The Mirrored Room Without Darkness; The Voice of Unreason; Be Still, and Know; Scheduled Weeping; Drizzling Doubt; The ‘I’ Afraid to Die

I resolved after my separation from Hope to stand at the window like a fire lookout and never to turn my back on the east. I wished to follow my own destiny the way a widow follows the arc of the sun over the course of a June morning. But it was winter; the days were short, and the sun was hidden.

I decided instead to hide, and I refused to confide to the beloved the contents of my discontented heart. It was not a wise decision, not a decision unanimously agreed upon by the internal jury. It was a split decision, an incision, if you will, that took me from the center, made a hole where there was once a spacious wholeness. What was simple became complex and convoluted, and I struggled with the words needed to greet people. I knew that most people greeted others with, ‘Hello, how are you?’ I also knew I could not do the same. It was not in my power to greet others in such a way, so I gritted my teeth and pretended I was deaf when my soul-sister asked how I’d ever bridge the chasm that separated my ignorance from her magnificence.

Once I removed myself from those who assured me the chains attached to their heels were benign, I wondered what to do. It was so much easier when I had a task, however deplorable. What could I do now that I had been commanded to be free? I asked a hunchback wearing a crown who was dragging his chains up a steep hill whether he wanted any help. He looked at me with the kind of vicious glance a king gives an escaped slave who, after being recaptured and hauled back to the castle through the mud, spits at the feet of the queen. After my offer of help was denied, I spat at my own feet, resolving to never again offer my assistance to a hunchback.

However, what I had been handed by those who had overcome their own uselessness, and were no longer hunchbacked, demanded a response. I recognized the paradox of futile effort met with unanswerable grace, yet I could not stop searching for the mirrored room without darkness, where through the blur of tears I hoped to witness the self stripped of what it wasn’t, but my weeping obscured the clarity of the possible. I heard a paralyzed voice, stuck in a dreamland of judgment, shout down that my words only added to the general absurdity. I claimed the paralyzed voice as my own and shrunk into a den where a lion was devouring its’ own tail.

Do not forget to tell them about the dance, whispered the voice of unreason, a voice I noticed rang clear and true and without distrust. Yes, of course, the dance. But how could I tell them? I would never be able to tell anyone about the dance. I could only show them. Everything that came to me from the voice of unreason told them about the dance, without my having to tell them anything.

Hold me, my invisible master turned mistress, as my trespasses hold me captive, as my addiction to silence produces its’ noisy hangover. I came to you to be held, and you did your job well, but I was not satisfied. I moaned to be held more tightly, and you told me to be silent. I did as I was told and was silent, and you told me to speak, to let everything out, withholding nothing. Nothing was all I could hold in and all I found when I looked in or out. To be without nothing was the only way to be, and my violent feeling that I existed without something essential made me question whether I really existed at all. If I was certain of anything, it was that I lacked everything. I especially lacked certainty. I did not know what I lacked. If I had known it, would I have lacked it? “Be still, and know…”

I knew enough to trust that my lying and cheating business partners would get me through the rough stretches I scheduled out on the calendar, the coming weeks in which I had allocated plenty of time to suffer from inexplicable grief. I boxed out certain hours of the day to be overcome by the urge to weep, and this I did during the prescribed periods, which came in the hour before bed and the hour after waking. During the rest of the time, I feigned an exaggerated grin, which was trusted by all but one. Because of this one’s flawless perception of my incongruous state, I trusted she was the one, and without flaws, both conclusions as false as her intuitions were true.

Be still, and know that I am not. Not all-knowing. Not always forward-moving. And not ever still. And still not—what? At ease? At one? At home? At odds with the one who is, I fizzled out in the drizzling doubt that veiled from me your kingdom. Not my kingdom. I am the veil; unveil me. Let me see my own face. I am the seeker, but how can I reach you if I remain at odds? This is no game, and there is no one to blame. Not even the one who is never still. This is no game, but that doesn’t mean there is no room to play. I play at writing, and I pray when writing. To truly play is to pray, but who of us here can play in that way?

For eleven months I have not taken a drink, he said proudly and with a strange trace of foreboding mixed with a lethal dose of malice. He heard a voice question him, ‘who has not taken a drink?’ Perplexed at this line of questioning, he said again: ‘I.’ He heard, “The ‘I’ that is afraid to die—that is the ‘I’ that has not taken a drink.” Why yes, he replied, of course. He heard nothing further.