Monday, October 12, 2009

How Joy Enters

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I missed the frogs on my walk to the pond yesterday.  They were hiding somewhere, buried in the warm mud as if they are the truth I’ve been hiding from myself.

In a happy and upbeat mood near the end of my weekend of silent retreat, I stepped onto the boardwalk leading to the trail around the pond, and instantly felt like I was greeting an old friend. Hello Woods! I wanted to shout out loud. Usually I am greeted with a sense of joy and welcome, but instead a heavy and gray weight settled on my chest.

I stopped on the trail and watched the leaves float on the surface of the brook that leads away from the pond.

“What?” I asked that weight that I thought was gone for good. “Why are you here again? Why won’t you leave me alone? Why do you keep coming back? Do you have something to tell me?”

I felt like a petulant child whose fun was spoiled, stamping my foot alone in the woods on this beautiful fall day.  I looked to the blue sky and stood there for a moment gazing at the gorgeous yellow leaves that caressed it, waiting for the answer I was afraid would never come, waiting even though I wanted to lie in the grass and rest from carrying this sudden weight. 

“What is it?” I asked again.
“You have a broken heart,” a voice whispers.

“Oh,” I say, and as if it were a big gray moth that has settled on my chest, the weight I felt when I entered the woods stays there until the tears I need to shed have caressed the skin of my face, and when it has drunk its fill the Moth of Sorrow flies away, and I am free again.  It only takes a few moments, but it feels like it lasts a long time.  I think it took the last of my Great Sorrow with it.

Some part of me has resisted this knowing, this truth about my heart, even as I’ve tried everything to heal it, absolutely everything a sane and sober woman would do, and nothing has worked to completely eradicate it or completely seal it over.  No matter how much wisdom and insight and truth I’ve packed around it, like a pulled wisdom tooth after a visit to the dentist, it resists all my efforts to change it, to turn it into scar tissue so I can move on and forget about it.   No matter how many prayers I’ve said or how long I meditate, no matter how much laughter I’ve shared or fun I’ve had, no matter how long my walks are or how many tears I’ve cried, it has remained open and soft.

I have tried everything, and still it is there, a heart that is broken open wider and somehow wilder and truer than it’s ever been. I have had my heart broken before, but this time is different. This time I wake at least once a week to words and questions, sentences and paragraphs, whole chapters unspoken, unwritten, unasked, seeking answers and closure in the real world and not just in my spirit.   There is no one to direct them to, though, those words and questions, except the wind and my soul, and they have no final answers for me.

The truth is, the good news is, this broken-open heart has brought me face to face with my essential vulnerability, and the deep need my soul has to drop, once and for all, the “tough chick from the projects” persona I have lived with all my life.  The truth is that “tough chick” has been dead for a long time, but when I’m afraid to lose something or take a risk, or when I’m full of desire for something I really shouldn’t have, I hear her voice.   She’s like a big ugly zombie, constantly stalking me with her crazy advice and admonishments, yelling from the sidelines, jumping up and down like a bad coach screaming invectives, telling me what to do. It’s hard to tune her out, sometimes.  She gets loudest when I am frightened, or when there is something or someone delicious and yummy that I want so very badly but have no business having, absolutely no business being with.  It is worse when both of those energies are active at the same time – fear and desire.

“Go for it! “ she yells.  “You can handle it!  What’s the big deal? Don’t be such a baby!”

She stands on the sidelines of my life, jeering at me for being a weakling, a wuss, a woman who requires tenderness and truth, intimacy and commitment, loyalty and trust.  The truth is I am not tough. I have never been tough.  I am mortal and soft, and it’s about time I accepted that.   I am staring down the barrel of the last half of my life, after all.  It’s definitely about time I accepted that.

So I stood next to the pond today and listened to the trickle of the water and the wind in the trees and I heard the truth.  So I took the opportunity to speak to that crazy zombie stalker, but only in the deep quiet of my soul’s rooms and not out loud in the middle of the woods, because while I am many things, I am not crazy.

“Look,” I said to her.  “ I’m just a fur-less, claw-less, feather-less breather trying to find Love and Happiness and Truth on this beautiful planet, trying my best to live in a sometimes difficult and challenging world.  Can you cut me some slack?”

And I walk on through the woods, and am content in the knowledge, in the hope that she will honor my request.   I took my broken-open heart home, and now I wait quietly and contentedly for more Joy to continue to arrive in my life and in my soul, because that’s how it always comes, that’s how it finds its way home – Joy can only enter through a totally open and wildly beating heart. 

October 11, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Charmer

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He sat as they all do
in the lotus position
with a turban on his head
and a flute in his hand
his baskets all around him 
and the sound of hissing snakes
emanating from his skin.

He was just a man.

I drew closer to him
pulled in by the music
drawn in by his power 
and he asked 
if I would dance for him
just climb into a basket
and sway for him
and I laughed and said no,
I don't sway for just anybody
just any old snake charmer
I don't climb into baskets
for a stranger
and dance.

I should have walked away
just then, kept my mouth shut
just then, and my ears closed 
just then, because
I am so easily hypnotized.
But he was just a man, really,
just a boy, really,
and so I laughed.

He shifted his position
on his dark red pillow and 
cocked his eyebrow at me and
began to play his flute for me then
began to charm me then
and the lies began to pour
from his mouth
just then
coiling into hissing snakes
at his feet
just then
slithering toward me
muscular and glittering and
full of flattery and promises
just then.

"Beautiful," one said
and wrapped itself around my ankles.
"So special," said another
as it twined around my thighs.
"Sweet and lovely," hissed another
coiling around my belly.
"I am here for you, darling," 
hissed a particularly powerful one
all diamonds and patterns and
blood red eyes.
And those meaty muscular snakes
coiled and slithered
around my limbs and around my chest
held me close around my neck
and bound me tight 
until I was frozen and unable to move
but my heart continued to beat
and I could hear its distant drumbeat
and I was afraid.

And then that charmer 
put me in a basket 
just any old basket 
and played his flute for me
played so darkly for me
to make me dance for him
and dance I did
I was helpless not to
and it wasn't even my best dancing
bound so tightly as I was 
by his lies.

I swayed in that basket
all that long day 
and far into the night.
For two nights I swayed 
until early that last morning 
when he suddenly 
and without warning
flung his flute aside and 
slammed the lid of the basket
down onto my head
because he had finished with me
he had no more use for me
he was bored with me now
and so he strolled off into the sunset
without a backward glance
looking for other dancers
he could charm with his flute
leaving me bound by his lies
his magical coiling snakes
leaving me to untangle 
the now lifeless 
but still twitching serpents
from my warm soft body. 

September 29, 2009