When at Last the Door Thuds Shut

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Looking out across the lake in early morning,

I thought I saw shimmer of God

Quietly glimmering within reflection of God

Each small gust of wind creating waves

Dissolving God back into God.

 

I could not take it within,

Too dangerous it seemed, too vivid, too vague.

So I drove to church and sat in a pew,

The one place where I felt safe from God.

My hope– that these thick Christian walls,

Made of dense stone, might protect me,

Save me from an ephemeral, alluring God.

 

As Larkin once said in a poem:

“Once I am sure there’s nothing going on,

I step inside, letting the door thud shut….

Up at the holy end, the small neat organ;

And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,

Brewed God knows how long.”

 

Hopefully, here I could be at peace,

Watching the light cross the floor,

This sacred place where birth and death

Were married in an eerie silence.

Here, where so much seems obsolete,

I am surprised by a deep

Hunger to be grave and solemn

In this solitary, soft moment of quiet.

 

Whispering within my mind, I heard

“Here endth the reading of these holy words….”

Scripture seemed written upon my heart—

A pilgrim’s progress, if you will, smoldering,

Burning deeper, alive and distinct from my own will.

Why, I wondered, did Nietzsche say:

“It is indecent to be a Christian….”

 

I sat, as Buddha sat, in lotus fashion

Upon cold stone, close to weeping,

Close to praying, slowly breathing,

Raised from death into enlightened spaciousness,

Sitting in this House I did not build,

Yet here, at last, finding myself at Home.

 

Meister Eckhart said it this way:

“Man’s last and highest parting

Is when for God’s sake,

He takes leave of God.”

This is what Jesus would say:

“Verily, verily I say unto you

Except that a seed of wheat

Fall into the ground and die,

It abides alone,… but if it die,

It brings forth much fruit.”

 

Only in this moment of dying,

As I let go, do I begin to cross over

Into the vast return to God,

Spiritually naked, yet blessed—

Slowly walking all the way down

Bright Angel Trail, high cliffs

Casting morning shadows

Until I reach what might be

Called the Colorado—

At the bottom of the world it flows.

And here, I kneel and drink.<img

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Slowly, I Wake

Slowly I Waken

Slowly, I wake; slowly do I move

From invisible sleep to visible world,

The boundary itself lies unseen,

Beyond my thinking grasp, yet vaguely there.

 

So much do I take in during each day,

My vision goes for miles and miles,

Sees images all over the moving world,

Touches and reaches out into the air….

 

As much as is visible, more is invisible—

Unseen, unknown, hidden in darkness,

Yet I sense it there, waiting beyond.

I sense something is aware.

 

I shrink within from the smallness I am.

Nothing to do but take off my shoes,

Kneel in trust, feeling great Love out there.

No, even further Out There.

 

Yet also found deeply within…

It is as silent as moonlight,

Whispering wordless promises,

Inside a secret, inside dark mysteries.

 

Finally I turn myself into a mirror.

Whole, mature, I feel the whole universe in me,

And I am in turn a universe smiling back,

Being the Whole and Seeing the Whole as One.

Every Path is a Return to God

Words Are Unwelcome Here

Every path is a return to God.

How could it be otherwise?

But before, you must reach

Your arms into emptiness,

Silent darkness, and run through

A world of lies until you

Finally glimpse the deeper truth.

 

Along the way, you’ll suffer–

No matter which side of the road

You pitch your tent for the night.

Perhaps you’ll gaze upon the stars,

Feel you’ve lost the entire universe.

But within the heartbreak, you’ll

Learn deeper ways to see Light.

 

Even those who love you,

May see you on one side or the other,

When perhaps by grace

You know you only belong to God.

Many times, you’ll look and think

You see deeply into the truth of yourself.

But your eyes are not the whole of you.

 

Each of us changes, some of us

A hundred thousand times and more,

Searching through wave after wave of

Transformation in attempt to touch the soul.

Maybe you’ll find a distracted man

To be your guide, a beautiful woman

For healing, a blind man who might prophesy.

 

You may find hope in those who interpret dreams,

Yet find later that the hope you’ve found

Has led you to darker confusion, bewilderment,

Storms that dissolve foundations that take you

Deeper into Presence, into laughter—

Where crying out for mystery gives way

To even deeper forms of longing…..

 

Be gentle if you can, to others and yourself,

For the mistakes you’ll make are many.

How many will it take to teach you how to forgive?

A sailor who only sails upon calm water

Never learns to master his art, to sail

Through ocean storms or survive the risks of love.

Only then might you grow outwardly old,

Inwardly young, and live the resurrection.

 

Keep Open the Gate!

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Jerusalem is never far away,
Massive gates sometimes open wide,
Swing closed when what lies behind
Surfaces in teeming city of the dead.

The war is old, as is the singing in the streets,
Rabble roused before the temple square,
Tall barricades in place by order of the priests–
They fear the dreaded victory that waits.

High upon the lonely hill, the savior died.
Still he lives to raise the band,
To flourish in the fray, to march, to strive,
Arms waving, dancing in their hearts, alive… Alive!

What of the gates that close upon the heart?
Fortified, they guard the holy city deep within.
Blow the horns and wake the soul!
For Heaven’s sake the battle must be won.

Let Your Love Be Sharp

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My friend, Sherman, passed his test today,
Renewed his license to pack heat in secret,
Concealed, hidden from wife, friends,
Presumably would draw if he were robbed,
Saw some stranger threatening. I assume he thinks
He’s safer with a gun. Ah, such delusions
We hold to shelter us from fear.

Perhaps everyone who loves should
At least have sharp knives, tenderly to
Carve with love at least a smile
Upon the thighs, back or face, cut deep
As though carving pumpkin on Halloween,
Celebrate The Day of the Dead with style.

Perhaps test the sharpness on your father,
Old tough skin might need a harder push…
Good kitchen knife for your wife,
Butcher when she harshly turns her back.
Let her bleed first, receive the hateful look,
Take the thrust the way you gave her children,
Concealed not by night, but in your darker moods.

As for children, let them all be evenly sliced,
Wounds pressed with love by father’s need,
Razor in hand always steady, their vanity
Becomes a consequence of veins slowly drained,
Nicking every artery to flow as love flows
Deep in loving hearts, secretly as one carries
Pistol concealed upon the body, always ready.

 

Just Beyond the Corners of the World

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Even in the dark, I feel the lingering
Human presence of those now gone,
Those whose bones are joined with soil.
They walk our empty streets at night;
Miraculously they whisper among themselves.
No wonder my toes itch when I remove
Boots after walking alone in the snow at night.

Just beyond the corners of the world,
Forgotten names roll by under the trick of dim lights,
Familiar shadows moving in the wild, willing to meet….
Darkness swoons with heavy vapors washing the air,
Chills the breath before it leaves lungs,
Resolves and concentrates all intent—
Only what endures illuminates the grief.

He Walked With Steady Gait

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Old man sat there under the palm tree,
Weathered face as if chiseled in solid stone,
Dark skin and age spots evidence of
Too much time working, sweating in hot Sun.
Deep lines cast shadows on his flesh to testify
By hard steel his life has not be easy.

No prince of wealth has lived within his home.
Yet his wide brow, thin grey beard
Suggest an equality so constant with his years—
Simple, honest, determination has molded
Shape of soul that rich men have not found
Living as they do in warm beds and palaces.

He has known hunger, fear and darkness,
Walked for days in worn shoes with steady gait,
Slowly into future that, as is the case with all,
Remains unknown, unknowable
Yet put his quiet trust into the hands of God.
And that for him has been better
Than any light that promises
Known ways or bright boughs of flowers.

Directness of his eyes reveal he’s known
Grief and heavy sadness—yet the wounds
He’s carried have not made him mean.
Though he is no member of elect society,
He wears a curious crown of straw,
His gaze and straight lips give hint—

Perhaps of a rather common noblesse.
His woman, his sons and daughters,
His dog has known his warm embrace.
When winter winds sweep through his house,
He gives away his only blanket, rises early,
Admits to himself he does not know
Much at all but that a stone is heavy.

He admits his years are hasting away…
Soon his sight will dim and the tree
Where now he leans to take his meals
Will give shade to another man.
He will have a lasting rest under the grass,
Finally free of all the heavy cares,
Stone resting lightly just above his head.