This Day I’m Thankful for. . .

This day I am thankful for

The taste of water fresh from the sky,

The sound of the moonrise,

The crisp rocks of the Sandia Mountains,

My dog’s eyes when she wants a walk,

Bare feet on the carpet,

The absence of mail,

The first taste of coffee, and the second,

My son talking through the night,

My friend showing up unexpected while I’m working,

The smell of rotting apples on the dirt,

A spoon I’ve used for decades,

Everyone who is reading this,

Words,

Black type on a white screen,

The presence behind my mind that writes,

The feeling in my arms when that presence is in my chest,

Breath,

Each story in an AA room,

Someone’s whisper,

The young woman minister when she tears up,

The pain of peppers,

My bed in the afternoon,

The smell of fall’s first heating,

The nativity scene carved in a gourd, a gift from my ex-wife who signed it, “to my husband,”

The touch of the uterine lining my child grew in,

My Harris tweed jacket,

Each day I’m alive.

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What Rough Beast?

The change in leadership in the United States has a prompted a tsunami of fear across the country and further across the world. Take a deep breath. We’re OK. We have always been OK, no matter what the outward appearances.

I’ve been heartened by a slew of spiritual blogs that take on the challenge of finding good in these changes. The encouraging messages come in a number of flavors, from asserting that all things move together for the good, to the belief that the world of appearances is a distorted projection of our fear. Some say that odd historical turns can produce disruptions that allow for light to enter, while others turn to Martin Luther King’s words and proclaim that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

W.B. Yeats has an interesting view. He believed that Christ’s appearance on earth set forth 2,000 years of strife and struggle, that a gentle saint prompted a dark backlash twenty centuries long.

He also believed that a second coming would arrive – around now — with thunder and darkness, and this second coming – this rough beast as he called it – but usher in 2,000 years of light and love. His poem, The Second Coming addresses these beliefs. Here’s the last verse:

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Seeking the Spirit of Leonard Cohen

leonard-cohen

With such clarity of words and melody, you will be easy to find among the stars. You will be a stopping point on our treks downward, a place of water that has not known thirst.

     And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower

Scientology? I can understand the years of Buddhism. Not the Buddhism of retreat, but the Buddhism of endless effort, of wood and water. Leaning without love into the light that’s lovely but lacks music. Just before we get there, we awake. And then the music comes and we’re OK.

     And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them

I was a child when I first heard your song and I was amazed that somebody knew where I lived, like a whisper in my ear that says: this is not a trick – it is the beginning of a long cry. It’s that you worked so hard for this while we wondered what work there was to do.

     But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

The balancing couplet of Suzanne isn’t the sea freeing the sailor; it’s the savior broken against the wheel and left to stare at a starless sky. There is an opening just before us that we cannot see. Yet we hear it in your song and know that we’re not lost.

Where the Hell is the Path?

How do you find your spiritual path? Not an easy question, though easier now than when I was young. Back then I thought there was probably a path. Yet I certainly couldn’t figure out where it was.

In time, you can reach a place where the whole notion of path changes.

Carlos Castaneda said “A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”

That makes sense. Anyone would want to be on a path with heart – whatever that means.

Castaneda elaborates: “For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length–and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.”

I experience a lot of paths: my path on the mountain hiking trail, my path to the grocery store, my path through recovery. But my spiritual path?

A student asked the Zen master to show him the path. The master said follow me.

They went into the jungle. After walking for a while, the student said, “I don’t see a path. We seem to be just wandering aimlessly in the jungle.”

The master said, “I am the path.”

“You’re the path?” the student asked, a bit confused.

The master laughed and said, “I’m kidding. There is no path.”

The master paused for a moment, then added, “And you’d be a fool not to take it.”

How Do You Live Now?

How much changes everything? Your thoughts belong to you no longer. They drift into the streets and over the houses. They enter the struggle and spill out onto the lawns with answers that float and bloat. You watch the green that shoots through the leaves and becomes life.

The change is not just you. You’ve known it all along. The world you woke to has become intimate. Moons hide where resentments used to collect. Your resentments, like your thoughts, are not personal. They become human and leave their families, seeking brethren.

You can smell the fresh rain at dawn and feel the trees stretching skyward. How do you live now that the next world is seeping through your skin, making you young again? The whispers in the air are spelling out relief – you were alive all along.

You once stood in these streets, crushed by alienation. Now you return to the very spot and you can’t believe the beauty in the air. Was this spirit always here? Did it always move so easily through your cells? Did these voices always know your name?

The same world that had nothing to do with you has now memorized your dreams. They spill out on these once-bitter streets in hope and kindness. In the end you were right. Some distant spirit backed your losses, every fiber of pain drawn taut in blood.

It’s all a window now that looks out onto the dead as they pick themselves up and walk into their glory.

When Spirit Awakes

The awakening is a wave traveling miles of ocean to reach your shore. It was born to greet you, long on the days of near despair. It comes to remind you that life is inexhaustible. A deep sigh that empties your lungs.

This is the beach where children collect sea glass and soft driftwood that toss in the sand and foam. This is your life now, surprised by how much is left. You thought the sand was running out, but it was brimming with colors that had not yet announced themselves.

This new land has turned its love to you. These are not the skies of your youth, with their bland promise and abrupt discouragement. These are not the streets that seemed to reject you in their very essence. You never thought your skin could be accepted by the world, so you hid your skin away.

Can this possibly be that same world? You see that it is now made of new substance, warm to the touch. You can taste it from a distance; you can taste it on your lips. It sings a sustained nourishment.

The awakening wave has moved back out to sea, but you have been touched by a love and cannot turn dark. Darkness has lost its grip and dissipated. Light now the fabric of your being.

When night comes, the sky goes purple and the woods come to life. You are welcome here finally, right in the middle of your life. Even your bones feel the deep hum. Stand tall into this new air. You are everything the world has hoped.

Your Bloom Opens the World

When you awoke this time, something new looked outward through your eyes. You have not seen this world before. This awareness has not yet become familiar. You count the stars to make sure you are home. And you are home, even though the stars look different. This is a new home. The decay around the edges is ripe now, offering the green-chile scent of a rich harvest.

The language is the same – families, pairings in love, the cycle of newborns, the enemies over the hill, the endless insistence that this is the one true reality. It goes into the bone and sticks. It drives us into the ground.

But you can see now. You can see through your self into the world as it connects back. It bends to your view, and you bend back to let the whole thing inside. Worlds upon worlds build up and break through. You are a moment in the tension that is giving way.

The touch of your finger to your thumb holds eternity. You live in the soft buzz of that warmth. No love can go further – this is the love that opens skin. Above you there is so much more, and you’ve anticipated every step – like cool water and the healing of a long winter.

You are at one here. You have found a way to touch the world. The suffering may not be gone, but it is no longer yours. It belongs to the years that are drifting backwards. Out here in the sun, everything is revealed – your past is reconciled, and your future is rushing into the present.

You have never been so present.