A Worthy Destination

A Worthy Destination
Jan 28, 2003
revised Feb 15, 2010

I haven’t found peace.
I don’t own peace,
rent peace,
buy or sell peace,
though I do encounter peace
from time to time.
Peace is like a friend
who comes for a surprise visit.
As my life takes on a shape
in which peace feels comfortable
I see peace more often.
Peace is not easily found in this world.
Peace comes like an accident,
a good mishap.
Peace lands in my heart like
a bird that’s raised its young
and is looking for a new place to nest.
I thought I would know peace by now,
but it’s taking longer than I expected.
The biggest problem is my mind.
It’s like a bag turned inside out, its contents
are the world, spilled and crazy.
Peace is not comfortable
in the world. When I’m with peace, I feel as though I’ve brought a guest
to the kind of party
that’s broken up by the cops after midnight.
I need to make peace more welcome here.
I should send peace an invitation, find a good solid tree
where peace can perch and sing
before taking flight
to a more worthy destination.

Breath

Your breath has a shape
unique
like a fingerprint
no two alike
in all the world.
Everything about you
is found in your breath
all your lives
and deaths,
all your thoughts.
Think of your body
as gone,
only breath remains
it has an in stop
and an out stop
and contains so much more
than air.
If we could know one another
by our breaths
if we could see the human crowd
as a throng of breaths,
nothing else,
hello jagged anxious breath
how are you
hello smooth relaxed breath
nice to see you
the human race is
a breath collective
today some will arrive
today some will depart
lungs are merely homes
like hands fill gloves
everything sacred, every dark secret
lives in the breath
and when it leaves your body
it is a system of information
like a letter full of you,
air mail, breath mail.
I would tell you more of this
if I knew any more
but this is as far as I’ve got
in learning the nature of breath.

On Not Pursuing Happiness

On Not Pursuing Happiness

If happiness is your goal,
you have come to the wrong planet.
Go back to God and ask him
for a transfer. I’m sure
there are places where happiness
is a basic condition,
but it is not here.
It is good to fit the goals
to the environment.
When King Solomon asked for an understanding heart
he was thinking of the people he ruled,
the people he judged, day by day.
He did not ask for happiness.
This is not to say that there is no happiness
here on earth. There is. But it comes
unbidden, it cannot be striven for,
it is a byproduct of other quests.
Ask then for something that serves the spirit.
At the right time, happiness soothes the spirit.
At the wrong time, happiness deludes the spirit.
Wanting to be happy, expecting to be happy,
being disappointed when you are unhappy,
all these things are small change,
a leaf held against the sky during an eclipse,
a tiny sun-silhouette, nothing more.
I’m sounding like a sermon, I know.
I woke up this morning feeling terrible.
I am blessed. There is much happiness in my life.
Feeling terrible reminded me that feeling terrible
can open many doors.

Prophet

Oh lord, oh lord,
what has befallen me?
That which I hoped to make straight
only becomes more twisted.
That which should be understood
only becomes more strange.
How did I come to this unexpected shore?
And what am I to make of the walking wreck of myself?
It is a mixed gift, this life, it is hard
to feel so completely lost
in complexity not of my making.
I wanted to be a radiance
but I am more like a garbage can
tipped by a racoon in predawn hours.
I pick myself up,
I sweep my contents
into a tidy pile,
but each time I think to rest,
I am again overturned.
I speak to you, o lord,
like the wounded Jew,
like the baffled bloodied prophet,
like the broken fated sage.
I take help from any quarter,
even those with dangerous denizens.
I take comfort with the scorpion,
I sleep with diseases,
I mark my worth with the vague knowledge
that I am somehow loved.
Still I marvel and lament
at my scattered state,
at my continued surprise that I am alive,
that I move my limbs with some dim purpose,
that I have any faculty left to cry out to you.
Oh lord, what has befallen me?
You see, I have nothing but questions.
It could be much worse, I freely admit.
It could be much better,
I ruefully entreat.
Pieces of me have gone numb.
Whole continents of my psyche have been submerged,
drowned, forgotten.
I am the world I have made.
I am a man, dreadfully incomplete,
unwilling to meet the terror,
reluctant to behold the fire,
shrinking always from the worst case,
taking the hand of any wiser being,
like a lost child who needs to be led,
anywhere, as long as it seems to be
a worthy destination.
I shall try now, lord, to snatch a bit of sleep
from the bottom of the night’s cup.
I’m glad we had this little talk.
I thank you, uncomfortably,
like one who has opened the wrong gift
at the wrong party.
Oh, is this for ME?
I’m not quite sure it fits,
I’m not sure how to use it.
I’ve broken it a little
but it still works.  See?
I’ve tried, I’ve hopped on one foot,
I’ve danced insanely.
I’m still here,
waiting for your soft voice
to bring me peace.

Prayer for 2009

Show me the way, Lord.

I am always your student.

I am always in love with you.

I will change myself to follow the deep promptings

you have planted in my heart.

Show me not the answer,

show me the right questions 

to ask.  Show me what is right

and I will do it.

I will fail often.

If I ask for something that does not help me

lead me to that which helps me.

Show me how to love, Lord.

Many things pose as love 

that are not love.

Shoe me how to live my life.

I walk in a trance,

I move without being awake

I act without a plan.

My head is fuzzy; my limbs do not respond well.

My walk is tilted.

I don’t know when I’m hungry.

I eat when my stomach hurts.

I breathe air that I have spoiled.

My spirit seems clogged.  Though I want to fly

I have no wings.

Help me to listen

to know your voice

when I hear it.

A thousand teachings flood my senses

until I am falling over the ropes of words

of those who claim to be wise.

Cloudy mysticism is everywhere:

“We are all one, God is in all of us,

listen to the silence within you,”

so many messages that do not bear

on my experience of reality.

I only know what my day presents,

nothing more.  I can feel my fellow humans,

their fears and their dreams.

I would serve and be served by them

if I had something real to give.

Show me what is real, Lord.

Show me a work that is generous and clean.

Show me how to use my gifts,

for you have given me so many, 

yet I squander them

and am left with a greed

that controls me.

Show me what is possible, Lord.

I want to believe that anything is possible.

I need to have faith in Faith.

My senses tell me

that nothing is fixed, that the earthly world

swirls like a fluid dream.  I want to know

what is true, Lord.

If nothing is fixed, than nothing is impossible.

Shoe me how to master it, Lord.

I long to master life, I long to master

awareness itself.

Show me my own mind, Lord.

I don’t know who else to ask, but you.

Show me how to wear myself

in the best light. Shoe me grace, Lord, show me

all the things I have forgotten, all the things I knew

as a child,

before I lost my courage,

before I cared if I won or lost. 

or tied or died or lived well

or lost myself in dark valleys,

before I learned to walk,

before I learned to talk,

before I learned to think.

Show me everything, Lord,

show me all that I need

and all that I can handle

to create me as your heart’s desire.

Show me how to make your heart’s desire

my heart’s desire,

that I may walk alongside you

secure in the knowing of you

as my friend and mentor.

Show me, Lord, show me.

I weep with desire, show me

reveal it to me though it be too bright,

reveal it to me in the bits you deem right,

any way you want to bring me into your heart,

Lord, just show me.


Seeing Is Believing


A blinded soul is a stubborn thing.

It must be ground and battered, 
schocked , in the hope that one day
it will remember how to see.
So stubborn, it keeps its eyelids
tightly shut, until it must be thrown
into the furnace of stars, and exhaled
into the loneliness of space.
So blind that it must be exiled
time and again, into bodies that are afflicted
with warts, boils and tumors.
Wake up! Wake up!
Its eyes stubbornly clamped,
it inherits careless mothers and cruel fathers,
like cold water in the face of the soul,
that it may through pure reflex
open its eyes, and see on the horizon
a glimpse of the home
from which all souls come,
to which they will, some day, return.
A stubborn thing is a binded soul.
It  has no memory of its memory.
It does not know
of the domain of seeing souls
who grieve for their lost brethren.
Won’t you see, won’t you remember?
they cry.  To the blind
it is a faint and distant sound
of clenched and blaming hearts.
Here it is, here it is!
Just open your eyes, just remember.
The glue that holds shut
the eyelids of your sightless soul
can be dissolved 
by the tears of your long, sad sleep.