These are troublesome times for coupled-in and singled out alike. How can I uncover my union with God and the other in this unrelenting solitude? How can she recover her heaven-sent solitude with God through earth-bound union with the other? I would rather have her here to hold and comfort me on this last cold morning of November, and in the many cold mornings to come. Instead, I have only this stubborn wood that has caught fire, finally. But I am not comforted. I am bundled but buffeted. I walk outside and feel the wind rushing in; it cuts through my many threadbare coats to the raw skin.
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.
Is it you, the one
whose name rises softly to my lips,
who I am longing for?
You who are absent, while I am here.
If you were here with me, would I find
someone else to long for?
Today rain falls on the ground,
and from within my heart this longing rises,
like a river surging over its banks,
like an eagle soaring above its nest,
like a stone rolling from infinity to infinity.
Rain falls, stones roll, time moves on,
and all but this longing in me is still.
Yet: what am I
but what longs
Your name is like the gentle rhythm of rain,
falling, and my voice keeps speaking it,
though to speak it brings me pain.
Who are you, you who are
absent, whose name rises softly to my lips?
Are you the one I am longing for?
The rain comes down harder now,
not so gentle as before.
It is a day to love or to love
from a distance, which is to long.
No distance is far enough, no closeness is close
enough. There is no safety or rest or comfort
in distance, there is only this longing, this aching
unrest of being apart from, separated by
the river you once crossed to meet her.
My soul is broken until all souls can be bound together,
Yet each soul can remain a separate and unique manifestation.
My soul breaks when I see another broken soul.
Did I say another?
My soul breaks when I see soul, broken.
My soul will continue to break until there are no broken souls.
My soul breaks for the loneliness of the human condition,
The sense of separation we all feel from each other,
And from the truth of ourselves.
My soul breaks for and is mended during the journey we must all undergo
From separation to connection,
From apartness to closeness,
From painful loneliness to the unburdened aloneness
That we feel when we connect to and accept ourselves in our entirety,
Realizing the wholeness within that has been there all along.
My soul is not mended yet.
My soul yearns to be broken and shattered,
It yearns to be overtaken and sink under,
It yearns for years of suffering.
My soul yearns to be unbroken and whole,
It yearns to be given over and rise above,
It yearns for years of joy.
It is a soul full of desire.
It desires also not to desire,
How can the soul not desire that?
Will the soul be broken until it no longer desires to be unbroken?
Will the soul be broken until it is no longer?
Does the soul remain after it is no longer broken?
Was the soul ever unbroken?
Is the true nature of the soul unbroken and whole?
The soul is curious about itself,
It is a mystery to itself,
It is restless until it rests in itself,
It seeks until it finds itself at rest.
Will the soul ever be at rest?
Is the nature of the soul restless?
Or is the nature of the soul at rest,
And it is only restless until it finds itself?
How can the soul find itself?
The soul is curious and restless and the soul is broken.
The soul breaks when it feels the spirit of another broken soul,
The soul breaks down in weeping and fills up with joy,
The soul breaks, it yearns to be broken and to be unbroken.
The soul will continue to break until there are no broken souls.