Archive for May, 2010
Though it’s all one world,
when we close our eyes to the outer life,
we open our eyes to the inner life,
and we are made to blink
so we can live in the one true world.
Dig something you think
might last from the earth
and wedge the air from it.
Then clean the wheel, the
one which spins on its side,
the one which goes nowhere.
Slap the clay on the wheel
and sit forward with your
legs firmly planted. Brace
your forearms against your
thighs. And wet your hands.
Let the wheel spin. Keep
your hands steady against
the clay which wants to
leave the wheel. Though
it feels like the wheel is
shaping you, try not to
think of anything. Like a
quiet worker shaping forms
for God to bring to life in
the fire, hold the clay, like
the sum of your time on
earth, in the center for
as long as you can.
When asked about the difference between a slow-witted boy and a sage, a rabbi said, “Humility and Praise.” His students were puzzled. He went on, “The unaware one grows like a stone—solid and enduring. The awakened one breaks through the dark like a sapling breaking ground—its reach mirroring its roots. The self-conscious one darts like a rabbit, never in the open for long. It watches for others and watches itself chew. But the embodied one lives like a turtle crossing back and forth from deep to surface; in full praise on the bottom, humble when it breaks into the world. Each is beautiful and worthy, one no more holy than the other. And we are each: part stone, part sapling, part rabbit, part turtle.” His students were busy identifying themselves and one dropped his head, unable to find himself anywhere. This opened the rabbi further, “Don’t despair. For trees grow out of stone. And rabbits will chew from their leaves. And love itself will awaken the turtle hiding in every stone.”
What we want and
what we’re given often
serve two different Gods.
How we respond
to their meeting
It could be the letter never answered,
the one in which you declared your love
in such a tender way, admitting to every-
thing. Or when the shell you brought all
the way from the Philippines is dropped
by some loud stranger you never wanted
to show it to in the first place. It could all
unravel the moment the shell shatters on
your floor. Or on a summer bench, your
eyes closed, your fear about to vanish, the
heat bathing you as bees begin to fly.
It could happen anywhere you linger
too long, anywhere you stop hauling and
counting, when your mind spills its tangle
of lists. Often it comes with the relaxation
of great pain. When the hip finally mends
enough to step. Or your need to know
is broken by a bird lifting into light.
Or when succeeding in being something
you’re not. Being influential when you’re
shy. Or rugged when you’re tender.
Or while watching an old tree slip into
winter, like the one thing you won’t let
go of dropping all its leaves.
When the elements in all their beauty
reshape our eyes, it is God’s kiss: gentle
as erosion. When you could crumble in
an instant—all your pain, salt waiting
for a wave—you are close.