Lend me courage, Lord and Master, to enter the stillness with a willing acceptance of my lack, and yet with fullness of hope that I might someday inhabit the castle at the center of my soul. Light your lantern in this dim forest, this thick Amazon, or give me the will to wait here until you do, until you take my hand in the dark night and lead me through. Until my trust in you is complete, I will pray in my thirst to embrace whatever roadblocks you place in my path. I will not pray for easy fulfillment of my every dispersed desire. I will not pray to complacently retire from the world of strife, the world of violence rife with polluted minds and tortured hearts. I will not pray for immediate and everlasting freedom from the enemy battalions whose only mission is to topple the towers of virtue in my own heart. I know the battle will go on for a long time. And as long as it does, I will pray only this: to always hold in my soul’s steady hands the double-edged sword of passionate discernment, in order to understand which cords of my bound original nature it is my task to cut through, and which of these cords I must leave for you.
Dark morning, do what you will do.
Grow light without resistance.
Spread your light to the resistant world.
But too much light too soon might blind me.
First, let my own resistance rest
in you dark hour I rest within.
No one murmurs except crickets,
no one moans for the pleasures of the past,
no one dreads the pain of the future,
for no one is here to moan or dread.
Nothing here but the dark hour.
Not a soul awake that knows my name.
Dark morning, you do what you do
not for me or anyone else,
not to be praised or celebrated.
We should all be so bold
to work in such obscurity,
to toil before the sun
and rest by light of day,
returning alone at dusk
to the desk we left at dawn
so the light within can grow
in the growing darkness without.
I struggled and strained and failed to enter
A guarded palace with a golden center,
The light to which I held the switch:
It switched off, and Fall fell into Winter.
A shimmering light held my eyes through the night,
Whence it came, where it went, I don’t know.
Brimming and bright, the sun took its last flight,
While the light I’d beheld laid me low.
There are nights when you can’t sleep until you’ve made efforts to awaken,
nights you feel fully the futility of all your efforts,
your eternal failure to wake up in time.
These are the nights when the knowledge that you are spirit is simply that,
for these nights you feel spiritless,
and the feeling in you masters the knowledge.
These are the nights you pick up book after book, putting each one down
after a few sentences. You turn off the light to go stand on the porch,
and you hunger for the moon to give you one true word.
These are the nights when you know the dawn
will not revitalize or exorcise, will only terrorize you as only it can,
nights you wish would last longer so you could remain hidden in darkness.
These are the nights you spend weighing your options,
oscillating between extremes, unable to balance unstable dreams
of who you might have been with the unmovable weight of who you are.
I look at a plant for a class I take.
At first I see nothing but green.
All I see is green; yet I feel nothing
green growing within me.
There is only green on the outside,
shadow on the inside,
and space in between.
I look closer at the plant,
looking at it now not for a class I take,
looking out and looking in.
I look at nothing but I look within.
The sun is on its way down.
The plant as it faces me sits in shadow,
the opposite side sits lit up by the sun.
When the sun is on its way up,
the side facing me could be lit,
the side opposite me could be in shadow.
What is lit by morning may fade into shadow
What is obscured in shadow by night may be lit
In the morning,
in those hours before the day begins
and before the people awake,
I am lit and obscured
by shadows in the twilight.
Perhaps wakefulness in the world works in this way:
The less people awake, the more wakefulness present,
the more wakeful those who do not sleep.
But this plant I look at
as I look in—
this plant is always wakeful,
though half of it is now in shadow,
though half of it is now in light.
Wakeful yet still,
this plant that does not blow in the wind
as much as its neighbors,
being wide and short in stature.
Wakeful yet still, and at rest,
but never dull, never colorless.
Brimming with color:
Now a soft and subtle brown at the base,
now a fierce and passionate red at the stem,
now an alive and sunlit green in the leaves.
To be brimming with color,
yet remain still;
To abound in light,
yet remain boundless in shadow;
To be unknown,
yet remain unique and one’s own:
That is to be
like this plant, the name of which
I do not know.
One thousand feet above town,
too far away to hear the music and dancing of Saturday night,
there is almost complete silence,
save for the swaying of tall trees in the gentle breeze.
An unnamed sadness is present amidst the entertainment downtown,
while an unnamable joy is present here
in the silent night,
here where the moon’s light
shines through cobwebs and into cabins.
It is a good night to be alive
and to be awake.
I close my eyes and feel
both the unnamed sadness
and the silent, unnamable joy.
I feel the restless yearning of the drinkers and dancers downtown
as I watch the calm way the tall trees with immovable trunks sway.
Why be one or the other, either calm or restless?
I am restless and I am calm,
I sway like the trees and I dance like the wild,
I move with a vital force and I am immovable.
The calm, still being within respects the restless, seeking one,
and the restless one who seeks
respects the still one who accepts.
Neither demands to be sole inhabitant,
neither claims to encapsulate the soul.
Each needs the other in order
to be included in the whole.
The restless one yearns for the whole to be expressed
in one passionate movement,
one intuitive line,
while the still one looks on with an invisible glow,
blessed with knowledge beyond expression
and wisdom beyond time.
Above town and in town,
there is yearning and there is the yearned for,
there is stillness and there is restlessness,
there is underlying sadness and there is overarching joy.
I go out and look up at the sky.
Neither darkness nor light covers the whole stretch of sky.
There is the blackness of night and there is the light
from the moon and stars.
Each needs the other in order
to be included in the whole.