A Soulful Prayer

May you tend

to

whatever

veils your Heart.

May you be

healed

in

your difficulties.

And may you

radiate

Great Kindness

to all sentient beings.

Black Crows

Every time I went to the Homewood Theatre in the 50s
to see a movie, I would always buy
a box of Black Crows.
There was something about that perfect blend
of bitter and sweet that attracted me,
even as a young boy. This morning there were
three black crows pecking away on the road ahead of me
as I walked past the hermitage.
They flew away, cawing, as I got near
and then they’d land on the road again, a bit further on.
By the time I reached the end of the road,
at the White Cottage, they flew off south
into the morning mist that shrouds
the knobs, and you and me, in such bittersweet mystery.

Holy Communion

Thomas Merton discovered, some five decades ago,
that the deepest level of communication is not
communication, but communion. It’s wordless.
It’s beyond words, and it’s beyond speech, and it’s
beyond the cramped confines of the superficial ego.

So, deeper and deeper we go — down into the body,
into a vast heart that ponders mystery in silence,
the sacred heart that knows all, that guides us all
to the palace of nowhere — and we fall, fall into
holy communion with the one who loves us always.

On the Road Again

The fierce and awesome dragon tail of Hurricane Harvey shook out
five inches of rain over Kentucky yesterday.
After three weeks of being laid up with sciatica,
I don my Tilley hat, my rain gear and grab my staff
as I head out the door
to walk to the end of the road and back home again.

The sassafras, beech, and oak leaves are glazed and dripping;
sprays of humble jewel weed and partridge pea
commingle at the feet of the stern, upright ironweed.
I’m amazed how much has changed along this road in my absence!

And how much has ripened in my heart as I learned, slowly
and fitfully, to walk the path of the lame goat.
I saw how much my ego craved the comfort zone,
and how much my soul thrived amidst the hurt and the disease.
So much compassion welled up for the lame
and the halt, so often left behind by the young gods.
And how grateful I am to, simply, take a single step without pain.

Further down the road, the verdant sea of soybean
on either side of me,
was glimmering with tawny patches
of ripened leaves that swirled like galaxies of gold.
Clouds of vapor sat like derby hats
on the knob tops. The wind was wet and cold and fresh,
and my soul soared like a hawk to be back on my beloved road again.

My Father’s Cane

I had to pull my father’s dusty old cane out of the closet this week.
I’ve had shooting pain in my left leg,
and I haven’t walked my beloved road for days.
That “damn cane” that my father cussed out so often,
has helped this lame goat
hobble around all week. Right now, I’m reeling a bit
from some body issues: a 3mm kidney stone that hospitalized me,
a gall bladder full of stones, a tooth that broke
while eating pasta which wasn’t even al dente,
and now the leg. In the Middle Ages they used to say, Momento Mori:
Remember Death.
This saying is not meant to be morbid, but rather
it’s intended to remind us of the shortness and impermanence
of this current incarnation, so that we can wake up
to live, and love, every moment —
no matter how painful or how blissful. The Tibetans call it:
“Living in the Mirror of Death.”
Carlos Castenada’s Don Juan always insisted that
without the awareness of death, everything was ordinary and trivial.
To realize that you have little time,
and no time for crap — what a wonderful gift!
So instead of an hour on the road, I shamble down to the fire pit
and sit there for a while just bathing in the kosmos
and the silence. Just tasting the blessing as the clouds
sail by in a lapis sky, high above the big green wall of sycamore, beech,
oak, bald cypress and weeping willow, that
line the dry creek bed down below. And I just smile,
feeling more alive than ever, grateful to be gripping my father’s cane.

The Long Road Leads to Love

Reflecting on the violence in Charlottesville, VA

We are all Dante, waking up in the middle of our lives
only to find ourselves in a dark wood,
the true way completely lost.
We are all Amelia Earhart, flying blind into the vast Pacific,
looking for our tiny, tropical island
where we can all rest and refuel.
We are all William Butler Yeats, walking through hilly lands
and hollow lands, searching for
that glimmering girl with apple blossom in her hair.

We are all on the long road that inevitably leads to Love.

And we all have to descend through the nine circles of Hell;
we all have to climb
the Seven Storey Mountain of Purgatory;
and in the end, we all have to walk through a wall of fire
to get to Love. It took Dante one thousand lines
of Italian metric verse to get there! But he got there.
And the good news is: all narcissists, all fascists and Neo-Nazis,
all politically correct social activists,
all the just and the unjust, all of us, will eventually get there.
But the shockingly difficult news is this: that all of us will have to
face, embrace and transcend
all the fear, hatred, violence and misunderstanding
that’s tangled up in our own minds, before we can get to
the Love that moves the Sun
and all the other stars.

And, by the way, there’s no road to Love — Love is the road.

13 August 2017