A rocky desert, Where someone lied, A love destroyed, a love denied. A soul alone, I sit and stare, I thought I saw a flower there. A flight that crashed, A lake of fire, Lies untold in man's desire. The barren earth, The ground burnt bare, Yet I thought I saw a flower there. A pool of thoughts Found humanity, A man lost his sanity. His sea of stone, Her frigid air, I thought I saw a flower there. Thunder clouds And lightning strikes, Fear flows over his rusted dikes. Jump from the edge No man would dare, But I thought I saw a flower there. Alas I'm sure To climb some hill, Live on until I've had my fill. A single stone An empty chair, I know I'll find my flower there.
In the throes of some created despair, I watch her struggle. She is oblivious to the world around her, absorbed in the essence of suffering and living the lie so completely that all joy has escaped her face.
That beautiful face. I can image her smiling, and I can imagine my own smile in return. I can see her eyes light up with passion, and feel my own response as her full lips turn upward in the moment. I can almost hear her laugh like a song sung in forever’s chorus…
“Please, beautiful lady, smile. Find it, please, let it out. It’s all going to be fine, I promise.”
“You have no idea what I am going through,” I hear her respond.
“I know. I can’t imagine what it is that would keep that smile from rising. I can’t fathom the pressure that turns diamond into coal, that creates powder out of the strongest rock.”
“Don’t start with me,” I hear her say. “You can’t understand, you don’t know me.”
“I do know you,” I reply. “I’ve seen you dancing in vast fields of joy, playing with the flowers that light up the soil like stars in the sky. I’ve heard you laughing at the nothingness you’ve sought, felt you surrender to the dew that wipes the day’s dust from your feet. I’ve seen you tend to your wounds, and I’ve felt you make your way toward the Sun as it makes its way across your longing sky.
I’ve seen your prayers turn your knees red with angry retaliation. I’ve heard your sobs in the darkness of night, and I’ve felt your body heaving under the strain of really nothing at all. I’ve felt your tears run down my back in our embrace, and I’ve felt you leave a million times before this moment.”
“But…but I’ve never met you…”
“I’ve met you a thousand times in your dreams. I’ve seen you grasp at the enormity of what you see as failure, and I’ve seen you run toward the storm rather than face the uncertainty of sweet aloneness. I’ve watched you shackle your ankles to certain doom, and I’ve watched you clip your wings instead of using them to fly. Freedom scares you, and owning yourself in ways beyond the teachings of your masters makes you insane with fear. You fear losing the knife more than you fear the pain of cutting yourself.”
“How? You don’t know…,” her voice trailing off into some thought she would not share.
“You are me, sweet lady. I am you. Our fingers play the same strings, our voices lift up the same notes. I don’t know you as much as I know me.”
Then a kiss. A sweet, gentle kiss. Strong arms hold the fragile, powerful legs support the crumbling. Love is found in not knowing who has the strength, or who is the one falling to pieces. They are interchangeable and neither knows itself outside the fact that both stay standing, or both stumble, almost at the same time.
“Goodbye, beautiful lady. Hold me dear until we meet again, in some other form, in some other way. Please, I beg of you, smile. Just find something in your soul that sets your face ablaze. Go there, and fly.”
I knew you’d come.
I once heard you whisper through the trees as I bathed in the soothing mountain air. I heard you say the most wonderful things in a sunlight caress, and I felt you love me in the way you pulled the sweat from my skin, in the way you accepted my reply through the soft moan that involuntarily escaped my lips.
I know you are there. I can feel you in the ground beneath my feet, and in the desire I have to never quit the climb. I feel your hand gently on my back as I move upward and onward, your soft words reminding me of who I am when the world would like me to forget. I feel the unbridled passion between us, and know that someday, somehow, the river of life will take us to that special place where we can finally rest. Together.
Others wonder who you are, but I can see you in the sunlit reflection cast upon the still waters on which I gaze. I can see you in my own eyes burning with a passion brighter than a million suns. One can see you in the fierceness on which I walk this place, intently resolved to hold my space while the winds take me to another.
To know you they need only know me. Not the flesh that makes a man mortal in ambivalence, or the thoughts that take such a mortal to pretentious heights of mindlessness. No, to have met you they need to meet the Soul lying beneath those things. The Soul pulsing like an ocean, mighty because it lies beneath all waters. A Soul holding Itself like molten rock beneath a mountain, sure to explode when It must in a glorious thunder that quietly sings the song of immortality.
To know you they need know nothing more than Love. Sweet, unbridled, godly Love. All they need do is feel a baby’s hand tightly squeeze their outstretched finger. All they need pray are words of selfish adoration that lifts up another’s heart. All they need do is lie still, and listen, until the words they hear all make perfect sense.
Yes, I knew you’d come.
Even as a boy crying loudly in the darkness, I knew you’d come. Even as a young man struggling against himself, I knew you’d come. When the torrents came and I longed for dry land, I’d knew you’d come. When the failures fell all around me and I begged for it all to end, I knew you’d come. You are the reason I never left this place, and the reason why my heart still beats strongly within my chest.
It all makes so much sense to me now. I lived this life to find you, and found you so that I may live this life. Beyond the stories of average men lays a truth only lover’s know; that through the stumbles and falls of a life well lived they always knew you’d come.
Always. Even on the dark canvas of despair they’d paint a tiny ray of light. Even in the blackness of their thoughts there’d always be a beautiful stain of white. Even on the sheerest rock face they’d find the smallest handhold on which to climb. Lover’s just can’t quit, for in their lonely space and darkest hour they simply know.
One day when our flesh finally gets to feel what our souls have always known, it will all make perfect sense. Until then, this artist will make his rounds painting murals along the way, staining empty walls with scenes of the most beautiful mayhem. Finally we’ll meet in Rumi’s field, sensing the unimaginable, and you’ll sign your name beneath my own in this life’s great masterpiece.
Then, you’ll lean in on my longing ear and whisper the words I’ve always heard you sing…
I always knew you’d come.
Listening to you I understand my own frailties.
My own need to be special, to be different, to be unique in your world.
I hear the words escape from your lips,
See them fall from your fingertips,
And I know.
I want to be a god in your church,
To which you sacrifice all things,
The bed we share an altar where everything is offered,
Everything is given,
And everything is received.
I want to know that I am safe,
That the demons of this world hold no power here.
I want to feel your virgin arms around my neck,
Seek the sacred seed within you
While never knowing the fires of hell.
Such a folly of the weakened mind!
I fall away from my purpose while searching for theirs,
I walk away from my truth to find a piece of what others see,
Amidst the wailings of a child left alone in the wilderness
I can not find the silence I call my own.
Now the gray skies crack to birth the bluish sky
And I feel the fresh sunlight on my face.
A new day within the day has dawned,
My direction changes towards the dusty paths
That call my name.
I find company in the emptiness,
Truth in the myriad of lies.
I’ve seen angels with the longest of horns,
And the devil adorned with the whitest of wings.
Such is the contradiction of such things!
And then there is you.
A soft landing after a long fall,
The cool shade following a baking in the Sun.
How lucky I have been to find you,
How wonderful it’s been to hear you call.
I caress your face
As the clouds make love to the sky.
I call for you
As the trees pretend to know my name.
I reach for you in the ether.
And what a wonderful emptiness it is!
That space where you should be,
Somewhere between this footprint in the sand
And the million grains that separate us,
There is nothing but what should be.
And there we go…
Through that promised land we know
Forever is not eternity,
And eternity is not forever
If we’ve lost that sense of wonder.
From the mountain highs I’ve heard you sing. I have heard you from afar, and am ready in your arrival.
There were moments when the pieces seemed to fall away. I now know they were simply falling into place. Powerful is perspective, how when the glass breaks we suffer until the day we realize the stained-glass piece of art those pieces have become. Sad how we forget the tears when the smiles come, and forget the smiles when the tears come. Enlightening it is when we see how wonderful the journey has been, and how we could have never arrived at the destination without the pitfalls, without the stumbles, and without the will to continue to put one foot in front of the other.
It was in the moments when I wished for an end to it all that I realized the very beginning. It was in the bleakest darkness that I felt the enormity of a single star. It was at the very edge of the pit where I realized the end of the climb, and the beginnings of a journey into the world around me.
How glorious is that pit, that darkness, that end!! I could never have moved on had my feet not been willing to end each step and start anew. A new wave could not have crested on my beloved shore had another not receded. The tide could not have risen with its falling, and the Sun could not rise without the darkness that announces its arrival.
And now the Sun begins to rise. Rise in the realization that I know you. I’ve always known you.
‘Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.‘ ~Rumi
Imagine I’ve carried you my entire journey, never realizing that each end removed a layer to you, the core. Imagine that each end permitted another step in a journey that led to you. You are not the destination, but the trailhead I’ve been looking for. You are not the end, you are the wonderful beginning.
Now, I sit in a space uniquely mine and I see. I see the mountains rising high above the happy trees surrounded by the bluest sky I’ve ever seen. I feel the warm, dry air caressing my skin as the Sun warms me to my core. I hear the beautiful trail that calls my name, and the single note that draws my attention to the song you are singing. I know had I met my end back there, I would never have found this here, and my life would not have been fulfilled but rather become an experience left incomplete by my own insanity.
Yes, I hear you. Yes, I have arrived. Yes, you may now show yourself and kiss me in the sunlight. Yes, you may hold my hand and hug me under the fullest moon. Yes, you may make love to me in the plush grass where we sit. There is nothing not allowed here, for there is nothing we need disagree on.
The wind does not tell our wings “you are wrong.” The sky does not tell us in our flight, “you must go.” The Earth does not demand “leave me alone” upon our landing. We are meaningful in our togetherness, lustful in our want, and powerful in our individuality.
It seems we have been building a nest, and we’ve met in the construction holding the same twig. It seems we have meant to be here, now, having been bumped and bruise but truly no worse for wear. It seems it all makes sense now as we view the stained glass art that our broken moments have created.
“No, don’t put me back together again!” screamed Humpty Dumpty. “I love myself as I am, broken as I may appear to you!” What worth would the King’s horsemen have when the soul of the supposed broken realize their own beauty in their pieces? We’d all realize that there is nothing left to fix, and the fixers would fade away. We’d all realize the pieces aren’t ugly remnants, but beautiful works of art.
There, I rise my soul to meet you before I kiss your tender lips. I love my pieces, and I love yours, too. Imagine what we can create when we mix them all like the ingredients to some great feast. Imagine what we can do in the realization that the parts of who you are fit quite nicely with my own, and no glue is necessary in their union. Sweet justice to the past, sweet love to the tears we once cried, and sweet reverence to the empty space we’ve held reserved for each other when sleep finally comes.
I smile at the idea, and marvel at the consequence. I will leave it there, for now, for the first step has been taken, the first ripples have been cast. The hike has just begun.
As originally published on Elephant Journal, a nighttime remembrance of some things past…
I stumbled alone. I fell alone. I picked myself up alone and I suffered in complete silence. I could not let you know how much I missed you, how strongly I held onto the ideal that true love would always win and that when I could finally stand on my own again I’d see you standing there through the mist of shattered waves.
True love surely won the day and I stand here alone with memories crowding the broken night in which a dream reminded me of a smile, of a laugh, of a once-certain destiny. I’ve awoken to the truth of your haunted disappointment—in my blindness you were all I could see, but in my sight you had all but disappeared. In my sleep you are real, but in my reality you are nothing but a distant memory.
The distance... Like a wave caught between its subtle motion And it's breaking end Comes at me like a long lost friend Laughing at me For some silliness I had done. Someone once said... That the difference between a boy and a man Was a few thousand uncried tears Well, I've become a man Torn in that glorious revelry Reborn in the remnants of a once-hallowed past. I love... With such passion as to temper hardened steel With such strength as to turn diamonds into powder With such tenderness to guide the softest feather to the ground. Love can scream or whisper... It can open wounds or comfort... It can be the lightest touch or the punch that knocks you down. Love is allowance. Like a great canvas upon which we paint our own experience Like the air that does not fight our inhalation. We honor her with the exhalation that gives us song With the moments that pass us from beyond the horizon. With our own end when the time comes. So use the torrid storm As a means to see the beauty all around For nothing highlights the flower like the stone Nothing gives importance to a single sip of water like dire thirst. See the break in the dark clouds? That's where the Sun bursts through. So, I say to you my Beloved... Hold me firm as you let me go Take me in as you watch me walk through the door And never utter a prayer without remaining silent. See me in the underlids of your eyes In the places where your soul plays to no one but itself. I will see you there I may touch you or watch you from a distance. Distance where the wave is caught between its subtlety And the rough surf of its demise Where everything is created and destroyed in an instant And where we might dance the tide to home.
I watch lovers from afar And I wonder where you are If I'll ever see those wishes come true. I feel the sweetness of her lips The soft caress of fingertips It's in heaven that we always knew. There's an angel laying there Making words from mountain air Is it me whom you write to tonight? In the wanting to clearly see I've heard a hopeful homily Written for lovebirds to sing. Yet in certain irony It's the chains that set me free I am a poor man with riches to bring. In the silence of the stars As you hum those sacred bars Is it me whom you write to tonight? We are just strangers in the dark Two seagulls in a park Just wandering into the dawn. As nothing happens there We move on to thinner air Screaming like sanity's gone. Yet there's a quiet part of me That wonders silently Is it me whom you write to tonight?
Surrender is not allowing things to happen to you. It is in the allowing of things to happen for you.
Surrender is a wonderful unfolding.
It’s the active participation in allowing. It is the silence of an active prayer, the motion of a meaningful wave that pushes you toward a shore you had never thought of visiting. It is the truth of where you are outside of the expectations you had created.
It’s the realization that everything you once thought of as being bad happening to you actually led you to somewhere wonderful. It’s the mindful honoring of a present moment that is never as bad or good as you think, the observation that destruction is the link between the end and the beginning of things, a link that makes a line come full circle.
It’s the wild notion that you are ok, even when you stand in the darkest of places. It’s the crazy idea that you can have fun even if you are free-falling without a parachute. Fear is the anticipation of the uncertain end, an emotion that hides the wonderful experience of the clouds, of the air rushing past your face, of the flight you are free to feel.
We all land. Life isn’t just about the cliff or the ground, it’s about the space between the two. Fly, my friends, and live each moment of the fall.
Head in the direction that makes you feel, well, like you want to feel. To hell with me, and those like me, who tell you how to feel. If you are happy, be happy. If you are angry, be angry. Don’t apologize unless you want to, unless the apology is who you are. Disregard me, and life your life the way you want. Surrender. Let it go. Fall.
Or don’t. Hold onto that piece of ground like it’s all you’ll ever have. Because it is all you’ll ever have. Honor that cliff like it’s the oft-promised heaven. Just please get out of the way of those seeking to jump. Allow them too, even if your mind wants them grasping dirt with you. Love lets them go, or lets them cling, or lets them fall, or keeps them firmly anchored to the ground. Surrender is love, and love is a wonderful unfolding.
I love you, so stay on the sand if you wish or climb the mountains with me. I will still love you. Wherever you are or whatever you do, I will love you. I will watch your unfolding with complete ambiguity. It’s yours, enjoy it regardless of me.
I miss the dolphins jumping but I see the prairie dogs play. I miss the song of the ocean waves but I hear the bubbling of the mountain stream. I miss you, but know you are always wherever I look.
You are my friend, my love. You are a piece of me as sure as the air I breathe. As my body adapts to the place I now stand, I see a mountain I will climb. And that one over there. And that one. I will get closer to the sky because I’ve surrendered, because it’s unfolded in the way it was always meant to.
I’ve simply stayed out of the way, actively and with purpose.
And it’s wonderfully unfolded to the highest cause, to my soulful purpose, to the spaces I’ve honored with time and will someday grace with my presence.
I see you in the trees and kiss you with my face pointed at the Sun. I sing to you in my silence and pray for you in the surrender that I seek. It’s all so very cool.
I touch you in the easy trail and embrace you in the handhold that helps me up the steeper slope. You will feel me, in the sand between your toes and know me in the cooling caress of the ocean’s tides. Perhaps the two will meet one day, or perhaps they already have.
Now, off I go. There’s another trail I’ve yet to climb. I need to go there, yet I’m not sure why. I don’t care, I’ve given in to the call. What awaits me is nature’s mystery, what I feel is my own.
Why must you come into my dreams? Why must I see you, hear you, touch you? Why must you say those things to me in that way you do, smiling that smile, whispering with that sweet voice, teasing me with that devilish look in your eyes?
Why are you in my quiet moments? Why are you absent in my wakefulness yet so present in my slumber? Why, out of all the places I’ve visited, is the one space you’re in the one I can’t seem to leave?
Why do I care?