I said, "I dreamed I was a bird eating a couple of seeds before flying off to a bird bath for a sip of water." She said, "Imagine how many persons sat inside their homes looking out windows upon your performance." I said, "I should have charged admission in exchange for the free food and drink." She said, "Watching in the here and now may make room for a note or two in our journal to be read in twenty years." I said, "I am fortunate to have many days to be joyfully remembered in the distant future." She said, "The ordinariness of today shapes the shape of the days bringing a close to the banquet of life."
How many more horrors must humanity create before some sort of deity deigns to arrive on the scene? I have created my own share of trouble causing hurts I never meant to inflict upon those whose love surrounds me. Paradox happens, says a cute bumper sticker with a picture of the sun shining through some storm clouds. Some (many?) helped others escape through fences and borders carrying babies against their breast while many (most?) watched the events on the evening news exclaiming with outrage from comfortable chairs. I have trouble with being simple when a learned mystic calls for simplicity in the attentive heart. In my mind complexity has no home in places where fires rage and to pause and practice any form of mindful breathing as bombs fall all around is a form of madness. The world as infinite manifestations of multiplicity gets up and gets dressed every morning and may pay a visit, if the quiet is just right, to a place where food has been laid out for a banquet in the midst of fallen down buildings where ashen-faced people arrive as if delivered by angels.
We should not miss the further complexity of being a human being by pointing to one flaw after another and dismissing any innate goodness in our nature. One bad apple just tastes bad and should not be brought to the banquet table. Beware of those who tell others what to do because of the length of their list of rules. Visit, instead, places of adventure tucked away in valleys. Sit behind a roadside lemonade stand and sell a cup or two for a quarter. And on days of sickness pull out those notes written by daughters in unsure handwriting filled with I love yous and You're the best daddy.
"Eat up the darkness with wit, wine and wisdom." - T.S. Eliot We are made in a place not our own. The holy books say I am clay. Breathed into when I was not looking. Prone to eat darkness in darkened rooms. It is not our fault when those who confess to love us leave home when we return to stay. I can puzzle about their motives all night while my daughters run around on the lawn with sparklers looking like darkened fairies. Was my grandmother looking into a darkened future as she held her youngest great-grandchild against her chest for the last time? So often there are too many miles down a long and darkened road which keep us from being in each other's presence. Why, then, must either of our darkened minds lift a finger of accusation against the other as if pointing at a flaw somewhere defines a simple treatment that would heal us?
To find moments for being gentle in the midst of strident cries gives rise to the necessity to trust the stories sharing directions that make sense. Other stories do not have to be mine. Meaning for one is not meaningful for another. As one theologian writes, We must be diligent in the pursuit of proximate answers and solutions to understand the ultimate problem of human existence. How many people look upon their existence as a problem? I believe that beginning my morning with yogurt in the same wooden bowl I have used for years starts the story of my day. While living, I can continue to read to gain some wonderful insights. Whether or not the omnipotent God cares is not something I find myself caring about, knowing that to do so is somehow a disservice to the complexities of life. Small notes of love tucked between pages of my journal create all the wonder I will need for a day.
How is it that people being ordinarily moral cause universal suffering? I have been the recipient of those looks implying I hold all real virtue in the room and, frightened, I excused myself by running in terror through any open door I could find. Indifference to the fate of self is one way to seek the welfare of others. Another is to challenge the pride that tends to grow when in the midst of a group. What is rare, not at all normal or to be expected, if found, should make things easier. At least that is what I have been told. How can the words of a poem be sinful, as in missing the mark, while alleviating the suffering of another? So many point their fingers at the greatest immorality of society without any sense of ought or thou shalt. Their versions of harmony come before me bland and without reason. Give me instead a note from a daughter thanking me for taking her out to lunch or to live again the morning when I lay on the floor with a baby resting and drowsing on my chest as I rubbed her back, both of us tired from waking before the sun came up to lighten the day.
I said, "I dreamed that I couldn't even communicate my own accountability blocks." She said, "So many intellectual and emotional framings sound trite in this day." I asked, "Was I blocked or simply not in the time and space to talk the necessary language?" She replied, "If you must lean, lean into those connections that don't yell and scream." I said, "There was a piece of gold in the dream. Someone whispered, Wait for the second moment." She smiled. "One really does not have to know. Feeling like there is something present might be enough."
Not all heroes and heroines must marry and die. One must be born first. Born into reason, nature and spirit. Filled with a bit of mystery. Stirred by the hands of fate. And witness the flowering of a day lily. And the sighing pshaw of the chickadee. Each moment may bring surprise but more often than not it will be followed by another moment. Sometimes my day passes trying to get at the meaning of yesterday. Did I worship everything meaningfully? And, how important was it for me to do so? Maybe greeting a passerby is more than enough. Enough does not have to be the best. Time still follows the worst which, though crushed, can no longer witness how it becomes history. Perhaps, and again perhaps, what is worn and what becomes do not have to marry and die.
I often wondered what my daughters experienced while away from the home visiting grandparents. Now, I wonder where they are, now that they are away. When they return will each bring a little note of love filled with x's and o's like they wrote when they were young? "xo I miss you very much. But I'm having a blast. xo” These words fill the space in between the longing to have time for myself and missing them so terribly, like I often do now. The mystics claim that the soul finds its perfection in what is absent and, uniting with absence, somehow the magic of soul-filling happens. I have yet to see that magic. I was once a man of faith believing that all things are possible. Now I try not to spend so much effort understanding the ineffable mystery so often fallen back upon by those in the know. Unmoving, I move towards the ash tree growing outside my window where years ago a seed dropped to the ground. I do not ask for it to fill me with wonder. I do not desire to place a swing around its largest limb. It is and I am. My daughter sat up straight in bed one night crying out after a large crack of thunder as lightning tore the tree apart. I spent the next day picking up pieces of bark from my neighbor's yard. Some believe that fences make good neighbors. I apologized for the mess my tree had made. I guess meaning depends upon whether or not we believe stories must have a beginning and an end. One implies the continuity of life; the other, the inevitability of death. I try to live in between where often the space is small and sometimes crowded with memories. There, there, is the place where I have a chance to be taken by surprise.
It's not like I need to begin again. So many years have already passed, full of burdens and bursts of possibilities. I should applaud myself for no longer falling into the trap of substituting new illusions for the abandoned ones. And, yes, there remains a sublime madness in the soul. In this birthday season of ice and cold when the wind blows with an edge, the amaryllis blooms, sending color to the outermost rim of consciousness. Now, I am more and more sure of grace. I have watched those most close to me fall and then get up to brush off debris from their knees. Some have chosen to sit for a while and I often think, Should I have joined them? Is the rim too fragile to hold both of us? But, there I go again, something I have done throughout my time alive, asking the questions which envision some sort of answer that ties a birthday present up with a bow.