Like a Spiritual Rinse Cycle, If You Will

photoWash Over Me

What this wild elixir, flown, delivers

By plunging from the heights to break below,

What icy, fearsome, awe-inspiring rivers

Will do to quench my spirit, I don’t know–

Except I look from indigo abysses

And faintly, I discern in blinding mist

What splendid existential bathing this is

That leaves me breathless, battered, cleansed and kissed–

What sense is left when all the course has thundered

And crashed over my head and hands and heart

Keeps in its wake the beauty left unsundered,

A seed to germinate and grant a start–

For nothing’s as renewing as a shower:

What pours out will remake me, hour by hour.photo

A Faraway Look

Looking inward requires the most thoughtful, clear, exacting kind of sight. It requires both the power to see great distances through any number of intervening obstacles or distractions and the will to pay attention to and accept what’s seen. These interior distances can present the greatest challenges in our lives. And when they’re conquered, having presented the greatest risk, they can at last offer the greatest rewards. Braving this adventure into self is often frightening and intimidating far beyond the terrors offered by ordinary, real life adventures ‘on the outside’. May I always be willing to take the leap.digital illustrationI wrote that thought down some time ago, and while it’s often played out in my life in a vast number of ways and to differing degrees, it seems to have come to the fore once again in a particularly pointed way. Every time I reach the crossroads I have to decide: do I dare to do what I really think I need to do? Do I want to do what I need to do? I know that other people are always undergoing these same challenges, most of them deeper and more perilous than my own, but I also know that every one of us worries and struggles and imagines and aspires uniquely, and that no one person’s journey is truly untouched by any other’s. And the more other people that I know are affected–directly or indirectly–by my decisions, the more I will wrestle with the inner process.

All of the standard stresses of existence that plague those of us fortunate enough to be beyond the most basic survival questions of food and shelter will continue to try us as long as we do exist. Health, work, age, finances, relationships, memory, strength, purpose: how we do fret and fear and puzzle our way through them is the ongoing test of our self-worth and contentment, and in turn, of our ability to give to others. Will I come out of the day on the plus side of any or all of these valuables? What decides it? The only certainty, for me, is that the need to address such questions never ceases.

Now let me close my eyes and go to work.

Wide Skies

photoIt’s early in the year. I’ve had my little first cold of the year immediately after New Year’s Day, enjoyed getting reacquainted with my innards with the help of a quick annual doctor visit and subsequent updates on my coronary calcium (still no sign of same, thank you very much), allergy testing (finally going to deal with longtime mild but annoying symptoms) and crossed another handful of tasks off my eternal household to-do lists. But as we’re still in the first month of the year, that leaves a whole lot of things yet to be done, things yet to even be imagined.photoAnd I like that, rather. There’s something compelling about looking up at sun, moon and stars without being able to read in them any threat or promise more concrete than my own fantasies, knowing that I might well find great adventures ahead, because that’s simply how my life plays out thus far. The unknown, while it has the potential to be prickly and problematic in any number of ways, also has the possibility of being as wide open and beautiful and thrilling as the bright wide sky.photo

Que Sera

digital paintingThe Ides of March have passed once more, untroubled. Caesar falls but is replaced by another king, another president, another boss–and the world continues to rotate with a placid, almost stolid steadiness. Even Internal Revenue has accepted our tax return.When the seasons flow and while night and day continue to trot after each other without cease, the sky withholds and then sends down her rain, her sun, her snow–though all of this is change, it’s change in which we all comfortably believe, a future we feel safe to say we can predict. Prognosticators and seers and soothsayers have always wanted to believe–wanted us to believe–that they could cast the runes and fortune-tell what is to come. And even on the wings of simple faith, these are bound at times to be fulfilled. What we trust will come to be will be–when it will. The answer, an answer, always comes.

But what if the answer is not what we had hoped? How if we have built our plans on something we expect, the future we assume or even long to be? Lovely as the concept seems, small few are truly able to go about our day after the fact, chirpily singing ‘Que Sera, Sera‘ with sanguine calm.digital paintingI’ve always had a little bit of fatalism about the whole thing–if Life ever throws me something I truly can’t handle, why then it’ll kill me, won’t it, and such things won’t matter to me when I’m dead. That’s a little fatuous and silly, of course, and no comfort at all when I think things are pretty awful.

All I can really say that keeps my armor fairly intact then is that if my faith in general is bound to what I’ve seen and my confidence that it will continue or return is that so far Life’s been kind to me. So far, what has happened has always led eventually to good and pleasing things in my world. As winter follows autumn and is supplanted next by spring, as day and night keep dawning and turning over to dark, one after another, I trust that the fallow times of my life will be pushed away by cycles of productivity. That weariness will be refreshed by energy; dread will be reversed by hope. That sorrow will return to joy and chaos or misdirection will remember its path or will find a whole new way.

The door that closed is only redirecting me, however slowly I go, to another passage. And where that goes may well be the very fine and happy place I thought I was aiming toward to start.digital painting