Keats says, “Touch has a memory.”
So as the light grows thinner and everything around me but you more obscure,
I find myself recounting all the common moments where you have been mine,
All the everyday acts that make up a lifetime of love.
If it were up to me, I would live them all over again simply to raise my tally
Until my life was nothing but an endless memory of you,
that I might take with me into the dark.
You’re with me always – the weight of you like an anchor
tenacious, forcing me deeper, holding me to what matters
like the desert sun to the scorched sand.
For years I measured my life in before and after
until finally, there is only now and this relentless becoming.
We’re not meant to survive it. We’re meant to be ravaged by it
until it wears us away like stone ground to sand.
And not just by heartache and loss, but by beauty too.
By all that’s pure and true in the world,
and by everything we love and hope and dream.
If we’re doing it right, we’re meant to feel it all viscerally,
unreasoning and aching as we take it all in.
We all know what that means of course, but to understand it, to really understand it in our soul, sometimes we have to live it. We have to face some life altering adversity, an illness perhaps, or maybe someone we love dies, and then we know. We know in a way we didn’t before how fragile and precious life is. And if we’re very lucky, and perhaps just a little bit wise, we’re given the opportunity to translate that knowing into all the rest of our days, where all our thoughts and actions and interactions with others become something more, something sacred. And just like that, we’ve transformed the darkness into light.
Beautiful artwork generously contributed by Heather Watts (Thank you!)
To go into the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
Don’t we all eventually find our way here one time or another? Having lost some essential part of ourselves, we plunge into emptiness. But here’s a secret about the Great Dark: Everything is found here. Nothing is excluded or omitted. It embraces everything equally, just as it is.
I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you can see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
Growth only comes from adversity and from challenge—from stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown.
The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.
I wish we weren’t (meant for the edge, that is) but I think we are. I think Vonnegut and Saunders and Eleanor Roosevelt all got it right. And so on wobbly legs, untethered and a little afraid, I make my way forward from one precipice to the next.
I’ve had some experience this last week with trying (and sometimes failing) at overcoming my negative thoughts and projections about others. Luckily for me, I know the perfect remedy. It’s an amazing spiritual practice from Ram Dass, which can silence those unkind thoughts that are so divisive and cause such great harm.
His instructions are quite simple: Every time you catch yourself judging another person, own your projection by saying:
“And I am that, too”
With this simple, yet profound practice, I am immediately brought back into alignment with my heart, which understands the illusion of separateness, and the beautiful African philosophy of Ubuntu – I am because you are, you are because I am. Ubuntu is the essence of being human; that my humanity is caught up in your humanity.
Have you never wrapped your arms around the soul
of a giant oak tree and listened for the beat of God’s heart?
Or felt your cheek rest against His cheek
through the tenderness of an old birch tree?
What are you waiting for?
What you seek is seeking you.
Image Courtesy of Dustin K Ryan (Thank you!)
©Dustin K Ryan www.dustinkryanphotography.com