Archives for category: Spiritual Journey

Darkness, Beauty, Creativity: Three Wondrous Realities, so needed and essential in these days.

I.

How can one describe and speak of Darkness?  The absence of light?  Surely not!  Darkness is a deep, rich, strong, and nurturing Power.  Present – yes, ever-present.  The Light is an interruption.  Though the Light is brilliant and clarifying, making the discernment of distinct and disparate things possible, opening the world to the magnificent symphony of multiplicity, Darkness is deeper, somehow; truer, and more comforting, than light.  She provides us the bliss of sleep!

Yes, Darkness is before, and within, and around, and beyond, all things.  She is the Source, the Well from which all possibilities become form, and substance, and particularity.

Yet, all is not One in Darkness.  All things remain unique, and are still fully present.  But they not fully distinct; they are not apart from each other; they are more felt than seen.  Their edges are not clear or sharp.  There is more softness, and subtlety, when things “are with — and even as” each other, in the Darkness.

Darkness: so sacred, so sustaining.  So rich and deep and fine; more valuable and vibrant than the apparently clear definitions experienced in “the world” of bright sunlight.  Instead, there is a fullness in the unseen yet felt character of Darkness-shrouded life.  A kind of embrace which the Light cuts and dispels — and cannot know.  Dreams and visions come from and in the Dark.  The Light is where these inner revelations “arrive.”  But then they fade into memory (kept or lost), just as pre-dawn mist is sun-touched, and then dissipates.  But the Dark is always the Source, the Birth, the Soil, the Seed.

When it is Dark, our eyes are MORE open than they are in the Light.  And when we close our eyes, and allow thoughts to take form, they do appear – but from and in the Darkness of our Inner World.  When we walk or move in the Dark, we may see our Way – but even more, we FEEL where we are, and where we are going.  Darkness does not swallow, but holds and nurtures.  All rests in Her.  Yes, let us say: Darkness is a Goddess!

Who is She?  A sweet comforting blue-black Presence.  There are layers and levels to Her: ever further, ever more: Dark.  Gates, openings, sensations, felt-rather-than-seen energies.  As the Tao Te Ching tells us: “this appears as Darkness.  Darkness within Darkness.  The Gate to all mystery.”

Yes! Darkness is a kind of knowing, without saying.  An understanding, without articulation.  A feeling, kept within, surrounding us; intimate, near, yet expansive and vast; unexpressed, yet SENSED.  The Source, from which All Arises, to which All Returns.  Just as we deeply sleep, dreamlessly, without images, and find our greatest rest there, so Darkness is the deepest well, to whom we always return, where there is such great care and sustenance: unspoken, gentle, strong; She simply Is.

To speak more of Her is possible, but not necessary.  For She is Ever and Always.  Before the Light, within the Light, after the Light grows dim and departs, She Is: inner and outer, the rich black-blue No-thing, In-and-Among-Things.  With us, unfailingly.

Yes!  We sing of the Goddess, Darkness!  Most eloquently, with Silence.  Resting, peacefully, in the Dark.

II.

O Beauty, so needed in seemingly Ugly Times!  To sing of Beauty, we must sing beautifully!  And move beyond Her mere definition as “that which causes pleasure to the senses.”  Though She certainly does bring us pleasure, when we see or hear or taste Her, in sounds or substances which manifest Her, Beauty is something “more” or “other than” “mere pleasure.”  Although She does provide us pleasure, Beauty is not limited to, or always marked by, pleasure.

She is “more and other than” mere symmetry or balance of form, or of elements within a formed whole.   She both startles and comforts us, when we meet Her.  Never dull, though sometimes subdued.  All shades and sounds can speak of Her – but always in a unique and notable manifestation.  Combined or alone, solitary or multitudinous, when She is present, the parts and the whole make her clear, unmistakable, instantly recognizable, always Herself.

O Beauty, We always know it is You, when we see or hear or feel you (on the tongue or the fingertip or in the ear or eye)!  You are something deeper, truer, than sensual pleasure alone – though the Senses are our doors to You!  You are not an abstraction, but an always-embodied actuality.  In all places on the Earth, from every tribe and tongue and nation, you have Been Brought Forth.  Yes, wherever You appear, there is something joyous, and true beyond proof, a deep feeling, which calls to all who behold You.  The most beautiful Beauty, in fact, is not a matter of the one who perceives it, simply thinking it is so.  Beauty compels the eyes, the ears, the touch, the tongue, whenever She Is with us.  She makes herself known as Wonderful, echoing within us beyond the surface sense, reaching the Inner with her piercing power of Presence.  Yes, Beauty, you are bountiful, and blessed, marking Life and making the experience of it worthwhile.  Yes, simply to gaze upon you, and all creatures and creations in which You dwell, who are You, make Life worthy and wondrous.

Though we sense you as being outside us, when we gaze upon or hear or touch someone or something, you call to us inwardly.  Beauty always touches us inside, interiorly, even though we apparently perceive Her as outside us, exterior.  Yet She is always striking, always arresting, always compelling, always unforgettable.  The most beautiful Beauty never leaves us, but is branded in our memories, our soul-eye, living within us long after the original Beauty-Source (the “thing” we saw or heard or felt) has faded, left us, or been lost.  Beauty Herself is never lost to us, once found.  To encounter Her is to receive a lasting impression.  And every time she appears, she is ever-fresh, ever-new, a new time which is always a First Time.

O, how we need You, Beauty, in these times of such difficulty and pain for so many, with so many ugly acts committed, so many ugly souls which harm, so much destruction of Earth and Her Peoples by a decaying, dying political-economic culture which is Wayward and Poisonous.  The cruelty of the times breeds ugliness.  Yes, we need You, Beauty, and are so grateful that you never leave us, especially now.

Today and Always, Beauty, we sing of You, because you bless us so richly, so fully, a sparkling fountain never failing!  We meet you, and marvel, in every form and content which is . . . Beauty-Full!

III.

In addition, in the suffering we see and experience in these times, which are so truly ugly, so needful of Beauty – our Time and Times are also destructive, and call for primal and authentic Creativity.  As the old passes, and falls, we must be Creators; amidst despair and destruction, we who love Life know: we must create, and are creating, the New.

To be Creators, of course, takes courage.  Perseverance.  Open-ness to risk.  Willingness to face ourselves, to do Inner Work, to seek in the Dark Source for bright jewels we can mine and bring to the surface, and share.  To face our fears – and see them disappear when confronted.  We must be diligent.  And always celebrating, sensing and exuding Delight.

To be creative entails the commitment to being solitary, distinctive, sometimes misunderstood – and even lonely.  For it is in solitude, in silent lonely times and places, looking at the dark mirror of the Dark Source Within – it is in that solitary place, from that unique time, that our greatest shaping comes, of what Only We Can Shape.

Creating also entails the courage to share.  To be with; to receive insights and observations and criticisms and encouragement from others.  To create communities of Creators; to build bonds which last, across time and space; to create harmonies and collages between minds and hearts and souls.  Murals on the walls of the world will change them from hard well-guarded armed boundaries into monuments to open-ness and possibility.  Every edifice of oppression awaits the graffiti-writers and mural painters of gorgeous remaking.  Done in concert, in tribes and conclaves and assemblies and dance troupes of Creators.

Yet, though Creativity arises from within, from dreams and thoughts and premonitions and careful considerations, it always takes form outwardly, becomes the New, from our Within to being shared with the World.  By the work of our Hands.

Our fingers, our hands, are most often how creativity happens.  Even if we create with machines (typing on the keyboard of a computer, holding a camera, grasping or cradling other devices) – our hands hold the tool.  If the tool is a hammer, a chisel, or a paintbrush, a pen, a mouse well-handled – our fingers grip, our hands guide.  And there is always a sweet sensation, a [  ] feeling, when our fingertips touch, and the New Creation flows forth, never before seen or heard.  Whether with a musical instrument, a digital device, a lump of clay, a stone, or pieces of paper – what once was becomes a Fresh-What-Is through the caring and committed work of our hands.  When dancing, though, our whole bodies become the space, the time, the felt flow, of the Just-Born Beauty.  But in every case, whenever we engage in it, Creativity comes from within, and then emerges, caressed by our hands, limbs, minds, and souls, birthed as the Newly Made.

However, Creativity does not only appear in the realms of the aesthetic, the so-called “arts” (literature, painting, sculpture, crafting, music, dance, etc. etc.).  Our call to be Creators entails every aspect of life: work, sleep, play, relationships, self-identities, spiritual practices, economics, and politics.  Forms and traditions in all of these life-sectors are changing constantly, breaking in pieces, collapsing – one might say “dying before our eyes.”  Since what we expect, whether in relationships, work, or public life, always fails to be completely fulfilling, and is rarely honest or sustainable – we must continue to create.  New ways of configuring relationships, families, communities.  New ways of nurturing our souls and inner lives.  New ways of understanding who we are, as women, men, human beings.  And of great importance: creating new ways to work, to live, to “make a living,” and to shape the world through our actions, individually and collectively (the latter is sometimes called “politics”).

As we have posted before: all can sense, taste, feel, that the older forms which seem to dominate the world are cracking, falling, passing.  They do NOT work!  In response, knowing what we know and who we are, we claim our human-ness, and sing and celebrate it, and Make OurSelves Anew, each day, in the small actions and the larger platforms of public life and discourse: we Live as Creators.

Let us continue to be Brave!  Let us continue to enter uncharted unknown territory – the post-capitalist, post-brutal-oppression future – which lives in us each Day!  Not simply in dreams and hopes and visions; but in what we do, what we choose, who we Are, alone and with one another, as we tread wisely in the Natural Realm and on the paths of Our Mother Earth.  Let us Create the New World!  It is not merely a New World Coming.  It is the New World which is ours, which we make, every Day, in every Today.  We are its fearless Creators!

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In the quiet of a later afternoon,
over-warm in Southern California,
grateful for sacred moments, knowing the Land is Deep Earth,
not owned by those with papers, titles, deeds,
but those who were born in it, on it, from it, who tread upon it,
who shine in their souls from its soil-ful glory;
contemplating and considering, a Song comes forth:

From the deep and the inner
comes something true,
a swirling spiral;
rising, probing, plumbing down and in
toward the Waters Within
and the Dark Source.

A labyrinth from below,
emerging surfaceward,
round, spheric,
marking out the movement of thought and feeling
from depth to consciousness.

Sparkles on the sides, sign, suggestions,
lit by Darkness, led through Deeps.
More arises, unsung, beautiful, yearning, silent.
The daylight wanes, the moon-phase waxes.
And through and from it all, is Love Unspeakable.

In a recent post, we spoke of an Earth-Rooted Practice, and the need to nurture it in these times. Such nurturing can be explored and experienced each day, each arriving and departure of sunlight and darkness. Our Earth-Spiriting grows as we are more deeply and directly aware of our bodies, the energies within us, and their connection to the ground under us. Most primally, through our breath, our bones, and our feet!

All spiritual practice begins, ends, and is sustained with Breath. Attentiveness to breath; the flow of breath; the quality and depth of breath. As we breathe deeply and naturally, allowing the breath to fill our lungs and touch the diaphragm at the bottom of each lung, we also connect with the energy of Earth flowing into us. Breath is not simply Wind or Air; as we grow in our awareness of ourselves as Earth-lings, we taste our breath as the wind moving through trees and mountain passes; over rocks and oceans, sand and broad grass-filled plains. As the breath moves over the Earth, it courses into us, We Earthlings. Savoring our breath, we can grow more aware of where the Wind has been on its way to us, and what it brings to us from its journey over Our Earth. Breathing, Earth attentive, we become more rooted in the Earth, more sensitive to our path upon Her.

Continuing to breathe, always watching and noting the breath, we also become aware of our Bones. As our breath courses through our body, we can sense each set of bones, allowing our breath to caress the bones in our mind’s eye: feet, ankles, shins; knees, thighs, hips; ribs, arms, shoulders; neck, chin, head. Carefully noting our bones and their arrangement, we sense how our bones are a strong and solid foundation, the frame of our manifested being. Just as Earth is a strong and solid foundation, the spherical orb spinning through space on which we dwell. As live in our bodies, are alive from our in- and out-flowing breath, we also caress and celebrate our wondrous bones, their marvelous movements, occurring so regularly yet miraculously. Breath, bones: living on Earth, we breathe, and are blessed with greater attunement to our own Sacred Presence.

Our feet are special bones, special flesh. Nails on toes; heels and instep; shaped just so, to hold us when we stand, steady us when we sit, balance us when we lie down. We travel over the earth by the movement of our feet. Lines from songs and poems note this: “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walkin’ out the door!;” “a journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.” “Every step you take, every move you make.” All of our travels, indoors and out, into and out of vehicles and buildings, workplaces and homes, kitchens and washing places and bedrooms; all of it is done by our feet. Our feet, our body’s roots, connect us to the Earth as we move over her. Our feet, our body’s roots, bless our body with balance in our actions and our stillnesses, our going forth and returning. Whenever we breathe, and are aware of our breath and our bones, we can be especially aware of our feet. Our two roots, bone and flesh: by which and upon which we make our Way over the Earth.

Our lives are lived upon Earth. We make our Way upon the Earth. Speaking or silent, active or quiet, we are always breathing, always kept strong by our bones, always traveling on our feet. May we continue to grow in awareness of our Deep Roots in the Earth, as we sense our breath, our bones, our feet.

The English language is a unique phenomenon. The same word, “refrain,” functions as both a verb and a noun. First, a reflection on my act of “refraining.”

It has been a long time since I reflected fully on the spiritual nature of external events. It has been a full year since the high tide of the Sanders Movement in the US, and its challenge to the corporate corruption of the allegedly progressive Democratic Party. It has been a full year since the conquest of the Party of Bush and Ryan by “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” It has been a very long season of shocks, disturbances, and circus performances in the public sphere, which continue unabated.

But the sheer idiocy and oddity of so many recent events has kept me from responding. Each odd, weird, violent, and vicious event from apparent centers of power, and in constructed media images of public insanity, has led me to refrain: to forebear, to desist, to hold back. Until now.

Over the past few days, in the US, the harvest of much of what has occurred over the past season (year, decade, generation) has come to fruition. Nazis, Klansmen, and bigots walk openly in the street, and one of their denizens commits murder with an automobile. But even this is only one fragment of a more comprehensive spiritual phenomenon: the fruitfulness of America’s deep, abiding, and long-rooted racism and white supremacy. What some might have called “only a sick ideology,” kept in the dark or the shadows of polite or public discourse, has now danced, celebrating itself in the daylight. And it has done so, because it has never been absent. Present at the nation’s creation, and before then in the practices of Europe’s ever-warring tribes, it now stands in the nation’s public square, proud, ugly, and unashamed.

But this is only a symptom. The pervasiveness of the poison has led me to refrain, to desist, to hold back. Until now.

And as I no longer refrain from reflecting and responding, at the spiritual level, to a spiritual energy of great age and fresh toxicity, I offer a Refrain. Refrain as Noun, emerging from refraining as verb.

We have the Power Within us, to transform and share the world. In ourselves, and in One Another.

Two recent events show that Spirit-Power overcomes Bullet Power and Money Power and Oppression Power. More recently, the struggle at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram as-Sharif, Bayt al-Maqdis) by the entire Palestinian population of Jerusalem showed that the power of PRAYER was stronger than Zionist guns, rules, technology, and restrictions. Israel shut down access to the mosque complex entirely on July 14, 2017, and then installed extensive “security equipment,” including gates, metal detectors, and surveillance cameras. Palestinian resistance began almost immediately, as Ramzy Baroud describes:

“The people of Jerusalem immediately understood the implication of the Israeli action. In the name of added security measures, the Israeli government was exploiting the situation to change the status of Al-Aqsa, as part of its efforts to further isolate Palestinians and Judaize the illegally occupied city.”

But the unified people of the Holy City, Christian and Muslim together, refused to submit to this calculated cruel maneuver. Instead, they refused to enter the compound when the oppressive measures were in place. The Occupier responded with force, many clashes ensued, and media distortions of the situation were proclaimed as “truth.” But by gathering, day after day, to pray at the gates of the mosque, in a popular uprising which did not need, and thoroughly embarrassed, the formal Palestinian political leadership class, the People showed the world, and themselves, that Spirit and Unity overcome every apparently triumphant power. The gates and metal detectors were removed. Baroud again describes this well:

“This grassroot movement was made of thousands of women, men and children. They included Zeina Amro, who cooked daily for those who held steadfast outside the compound, was shot by a rubber bullet in the head, yet returned to urge the men to stand their ground the following day. It also includes the child Yousef Sakafi, whose chores included splashing water over people as they sat endless hours under the unforgiving sun, refusing to move. It also includes many Palestinian Christians who came to pray with their Muslim brethren. Conveying the scene from Jerusalem, television news footage and newspaper photos showed massive crowds of people, standing, sitting, praying or running in disarray among bullets, sound bombs and gas canisters. But the crowds are made up of individuals, the likes of Zeina, Yousef and many more, all driven by their insistence to face injustice with their bare chests in an inspiring display of human tenacity.”

This is more than a political action. It is a spiritual achievement. A witness to the Collective Human Soul. And a sign to all who have eyes to see. In a situation where justice appears impossible, utterly beyond reach, always crushed, this movement of steadfast presence and prayer in the face of bayonets, bars, and bullets shows us the Real Truth. A Refrain.

We have the Power Within Us, to transform and share the world. In ourselves, and in One Another.

Here in the US, the long struggle at Standing Rock revealed the same sign. Begun by the youth of an apparently weak and powerless fragment of a Native American “tribe,” a movement grew into a network of global solidarity, in which indigenous people from across the Entire Earth gathered to pray, sing, build community, live together, resist the power of banks and bombs — all with the power of their bodies and their spirits. No weapons of force or fury were ever used — or needed. Instead, the Movement of the Spirit, drawing Native peoples, and those who chose to stand with them into a web of Power that is stronger than any Pipeline or Oil Extracting Technology. The powers of the State and their cohorts exhibited great fear, responding to this Gathering of Spirit, Peace, and People-Power with surveillance, disruption, and eventual forced removal. But the actions of wise and awakening people continues. And the Spirit-Power exhibited at Standing Rock, though wondrous in itself, is most important as a sign. A sign for how the Unseen Creative Energy which fills the Universe and makes all Creation sing, even the rocks, rivers, and trees, is at work. The Spirit is creating the New World, Coming, which we all desire, and which cannot be stopped. A Refrain.

We have the Power Within Us, to transform and share the world. In ourselves, and in One Another.

How shall we actualize these signs, from Palestine and the Dakotas, singing from the Whole Earth and all its peoples? In ourselves?

Foremost, our spiritual practice must be grounded and rooted in the Earth. In our meditations and daily rounds, let us maintain awareness of the Earth which makes up the substance of our bodies. When we breathe, in and out, let us notice always that our bones and flesh and all that we are is Earth. That we come from Her, and return to Her. As we sit and walk and stand on the Earth, and breathe, we grow in awareness of Her under us, and within us. As we allow ourselves, sitting and contemplating the reality within, we can also sense the energy, the frequency, the electromagnetic charge, of Our Mother who nurtures us. Allow the energy she exudes to flow into you. She will add to your Power, and the Blessings you receive! And as you nurture this Earth-Energy-Awareness each day, your connection to her, and to all who live and walk upon her, will expand. In all we do for the transformation of the Earth, away from current destructive ways into loving and nurturing ways of living, She will guide us, and be in us with greater Power, as we access and receive her power in our own practices.

In addition, each place we ARE on the Earth, the locations where we live, will also empower us. Ocean coastlines, deserts, river valleys, forests, mountains, plains: each of these has a distinct pulse and presence, an energy force, which it exudes forth constantly, flowing into those who dwell at each location. The ions of moving water, of rocks and sand and soil, of animals and plants and other humans of all tongues and hues: each offers a blessing of spiritual energy, which becomes part of us and our Journey as we live and work and rise and lie down where we ARE on the face of the Earth — where we ARE, on and with our Mother; Terra; Pancha Mama; Gaia; She of Many Names, the One Spherical Spinning Life-Presence on Whom We Dwell.

Finally, the Spirits of our Ancestors, and where they have lived, also pulses in us, and guides and empowers us, in these days. As we remember and savor the seeds from which we have come, from whatever continent (many of us have forebears from multiple Earth-places), their spirits live in us and through us. Meditation times can be spent contemplating and connecting with the spirits of those who went before, and are ever-present. We need only call on them, and they live in us, bringing their Earth-Place-Energy to assist us in our own walks and ways upon the soils we tread.

There is a Refrain:

We have the Power Within Us, to transform and share the world. In ourselves, and in One Another.

We have it! We call on Spirit-Power! Whatever apparent illness or limitation we face, our every breath, thousand of times each day, receives the Spirit-Power and returns it to the One who sends it. The Power of Creativity, of Unity, of Love, of Freedom, is the Power of the Spirit which moves, and gives us sweet rest. Savor it. Stand in it. Breathe it. And Celebrate it! We are in and with and of the Earth, Our Mother, of Many Names.

Before I begin this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.
I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the U.S., and throughout the world.
And if I could just add one more thing…
A full day of silence… for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation. Six months of silence… for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result
of a 12-year U.S. embargo against the country.
…And now, the drums of war beat again.
Before I begin this poem, two months of silence… for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where “homeland security” made them aliens in their own country
Nine months of silence… for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin, and the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence… for the millions of dead in Viet Nam­—a people, not a war—for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
Two months of silence… for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.
Before I begin this poem,
Seven days of silence… for El Salvador
A day of silence… for Nicaragua
Five days of silence… for the Guatemaltecos
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence… for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas…
1,933 miles of silence… for every desperate body
That burns in the desert sun
Drowned in swollen rivers at the pearly gates to the Empire’s underbelly,
A gaping wound sutured shut by razor wire and corrugated steel.
25 years of silence… for the millions of Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
For those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees
In the south… the north… the east… the west…
There will be no dna testing or dental records to identify their remains.
100 years of silence… for the hundreds of millions of indigenous people
From this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness…
From somewhere within the pillars of power
You open your mouths to invoke a moment of our silence
And we are all left speechless,
Our tongues snatched from our mouths,
Our eyes stapled shut.
A moment of silence,
And the poets are laid to rest,
The drums disintegrate into dust.
Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence…
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.
Not like it always has been.
…Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem…
This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th 1973 poem for Chile.
This is a September 12th 1977 poem for Steven Biko in South Africa.
This is a September 13th 1971 poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York.
This is a September 14th 1992 poem for the people of Somalia.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground amidst the ashes of amnesia.
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told,
The 110 stories that history uprooted from its textbooks
The 110 stories that that cnn, bbc, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.
This is not a peace poem,
Not a poem for forgiveness.
This is a justice poem,
A poem for never forgetting.
This is a poem to remind us
That all that glitters
Might just be broken glass.
And still you want a moment of silence for the dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves,
The lost languages,
The uprooted trees and histories,
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children…
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.
So if you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines, the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights
Delete the e-mails and instant messages
Derail the trains, ground the planes.
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window
of Taco Bell
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses
and the Playboys.
If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July,
During Dayton’s 13 hour sale,
The next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful brown people have gathered.
You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Now,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
Take it all.
But don’t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.
And we,
Tonight,
We will keep right on singing
For our dead.
-Emmanuel Ortiz

A poem has emerged in the past few days, in the wake of meditation and inward gazing and listening. Here it is!:

Deep pool, rich, surface trembling, yet undisturbed.
Within a cavern. Slight light, from distant moon and stars above the surface.
Deepest Dark Center, with a cord, a root,
Extending far below, deeper within than can be consciously known or seen.

Beautiful Darkness, rich gentle comforting waters,
Waters, extending far down in the space between the moist rock walls.
Waters, much arises from the depths.
Dredging up, calling, listening, receiving

Journeys over the Earth. From dwelling to dwelling.
Wanting to settle, desiring and sensing MORE.

The Cord-Root deep within, reaching the riches far below,
Connecting to the Path Ahead.
Energizing and Light for the Way.
Darkness and Light as One.

Today, unexpectedly, yet in an oddly familiar way, I have felt called, quite deeply, to solitude, to quiet, to stillness, to purposely NOT “staying busy.” And this is in keeping with today being a Saturday — yet a very distinctive, special one.

In the calendar of the Christian Year, this is “Holy Saturday.” The day between Good Friday, when a momentous death occurs, and Easter Sunday, when a momentous New Life begins. I’ve always been attracted to this Day, without really knowing or being able to explain why. Something about contemplating the space and time between death and life, perhaps. Or, a strange gap, a bizarre waiting, a necessary but unnerving delay. Something happens — but nothing like what happens the day before or the day after. Just waiting, a “between time.”

All Saturdays are like this, in a way, at least in the culture I have inhabited all of this lifetime. Monday – Friday is the work or school week. Saturday and Sunday are “the weekend.” But Friday is a special day in the “regular week”: it’s the last day of work, and the first day of relaxing, releasing, changing one’s orientation — and in earlier seasons of my life, a Great Party Day! Sunday, too, is a special day in “the weekend”: it is already an anticipation of the “week to come.” And officially, it begins the New Week. So Saturday is always a “between time,” a special day.

This Saturday, though, feels quite different. Something especially tender about it. Certain “regular Saturday things” have already happened: tasks, errands, a different time to awaken from bed than on other days, etc. But Today seems sacred, tender, a comforting open space. I don’t have the same relation to this day as a “Christian Day” that I used to. In fact, it feels more sacred for being “less official,” less purposely important.

Even though there is “plenty to do,” all of it can wait. All that needs to be done, will be done. This Special Saturday, there is something remarkably resonant in the passing hours: the in-between, the waiting, the stillness, the silence. As is often the case in a sacred journey, NOT doing, NOT going anywhere (in particular), staying quiet and still, is the best way to proceed. Finding beauty in “simply being.” And allowing the beauty which is present to be more prominent to awareness and attention (sunlight shifting as the sun heads towards its setting; bird songs of various tunes proclaimed from nearby trees throughout the day; the occasional hiss of tires passing on the often-quiet street; sensing one’s breath, sweetly and silently; the pleasant sensation of smiling, and knowing happiness which is rich and ultimately indescribable . . .).

This is a Special Saturday. May we savor each Saturday that brings us such sweet stillness, and enjoy the gap, the beautiful in-between day. A Sacred and Special Time.