Sunday, April 27, 2014

Letting Go

Dear Brave Souls

To let go 
Some have a hard time 
letting go of what is no longer, 
what cannot be, what is not,
what has never been. 

People say 
'just let go, 
just let go, 
just let go' 
scattering the platitude like confetti 
immediately swept away by any wind. 

What is it exactly, this letting go? 
No longer allowing the eye
to be caught by the hook...
No longer fastening the lock on the door, 
just letting the door swing as it will...
No longer visiting the graves 
where there is no love 
and no blessing in both directions...
No longer reviewing and reviewing the past, 
even the last moment, 
as though there will be a test. 
There will not be a test, dear soul.

What is it exactly, 
this letting go?

Not reading the same chapter over and over
and over and over, futilely attempting 
to make the indelible facts be rewritten… 
Making new memories of quality
to bathe old scars and new life...
Moving into a larger world 
in which the past 
is but a dot on the landscape
rather than the only continent in sight.

We all find our ways… 
letting go is shaking loose,
letting go is turning
in your great coat, into a new wind
forward into new sky and open road
leaving what cannot be,
and taking all treasure
from the wreck. 

Each in her own way.
Each in his own way.

This comes with love. Hang in there. No one deserves to be nailing the hem of their cloak to the crossroad that once was, but that is not now.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Painting by Helene Knoop

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

‘Noli me tangere’, he quietly said
‘Do not touch me.’
But how could I not reach out
for my Dear One?
How could I not long to hold
even the hem of his garment,
gain some measure of substance
for what I had thought was lost to me?

Around us, all was still.
Even the birds had fallen silent
in the still air of that miraculous place
as if in wonder at this marvel.
And I, overcome, reached towards him.

‘Noli me tangere’, he softly said
in caution and in love.
Neither man nor shade,
but part of both these things:
a creature between worlds,
between realms, between kingdoms,
between what has been
and what is still to come.
And I reached out to him.

But ‘noli me tangere’, he said.
And I must stay my hand
And my great longing.
And so I showed him my greatest love
as he intended, and as he already knew.
For what he already knew
was that he would never be lost to me.
And my greatest love, in knowing this,
was to let him go.


Painting of Mary Magdalene by Gheorghe Tattarescu

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Mothers

The Mothers

They are saying that he is of us all.
If this is true (and we trust that it is so)
and he truly is the son
then he also must be our son
and we, his many mothers.

What, then, must we think
when we see him ride between
the waving fronds of palms?
What, then, must we feel
when he passes by us,
almost close enough to touch?

Donkey and colt are enough
to carry him to his destiny.
But we, the mothers
who line these streets
to watch him pass
among the adoring fronds 
do not see a king, triumphant.
We see no crown, no royal robes,
no hem to kiss, no kingly sword. 
We do not see the one
whom those around us
hail as lord.

We, the mothers, only see our son,
and as mothers know these things
we see only the dear son
for whom we soon must mourn.
For the crowd, he leads,
and they will surely follow.
But he himself must follow his own road
And where that road must go
and our grief will be the grief 
only a mother’s heart can know.

detail of painting by George Frederick Watts

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Riding the Donkey

Scripture tells us that, just one week before his crucifixion, Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem. We also are told that, before this ride of triumph, he was very specific in his instructions to his disciples about the animal that he wished to ride. As we know, it was a donkey. He even told his disciples where they would find the specific donkey that he wished to ride for the purpose. We might ask why such a humble animal was the mount of choice for this moment of supreme acknowledgement and recognition of Jesus’ earthly worth. 

The worldly reason might have been a practical one: a donkey certainly would have been a readily-available animal. And the symbolic reason might seem apparent enough: what more humble animal than a donkey to underscore Jesus’ own humility? What more telling way to demonstrate to the crowd that they might hail him as a king, but that his own trappings of kingship were the very things of their own everyday use? This is as far as explanations usually go. But is it possible to go a little further, to dig a little deeper, to discover that there is more to this tableau of humility and triumph than at first seems apparent?

A carving which was discovered on a pillar in Rome depicts, of all things, a crucified donkey. This rough carving, which dates from the second century, might at first seem mocking: perhaps the equivalent of a political cartoon of its day. But the image points us towards a mystic teaching of Gnosticism, in which the donkey is symbolic of the human ego. And a fitting symbol it is! Like the obstinate and stubborn donkey, the ego can be unruly. We might wish to go in one direction, but the donkey (and the ego) insists on asserting its own will, on telling us that it is the most important thing there is, and its will carries us along with it.

Putting the ego in its place, triumphing over its illusory dominance, is a striving common to various beliefs. In Zen Buddhism it is symbolised by the bull, which in its temperament is seen as being much like the wilful donkey. To ride the bull is therefore the embodiment of subjugating the pompous ego, of achieving a necessary detachment from the forest of illusions which clamour for our attention and insist to us that they are real.

But riding the bull, riding the donkey, is not the final phase of the process. In these mystic teachings we are told that only with the complete defeat of the ego will true transcendence find place. The bull will itself be seen as an illusion and will dissolve and vanish. The donkey will be sacrificed on the cross of worldly pretence - and the man as well. For the supreme triumph is not the ride, but the moment of ultimate transcendence that will surely follow.

Painting Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin, 1842
Cherokee basketweave cross by Baskauta
The passage in scripture can be found in Matthew 21:1-7

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rhythm of Life


Wait, have you not understood?
Feel how the earth now warms you
when night has passed.
Time stands still ..
Sand slips through your fingers,
and in your hand still rests
the crystal glow
that once lit up your day.
You are still connected
to the current of your existence.
When will you understand?

It is not yet too late
to let your spirit fly.
Listen now
to how your wishes and desires
perform their symphonies,
how heavy drumbeats
in your heart's orchestra
shake the ground beneath your feet
to life once more.
Let the strings sing!
And pluck all the chords
of your soul ..
Do you now understand?

Painting Hope by George Frederick Watts, 1886