Tag Archives: mystery

Keys to the Forgotten Song #writephoto

In the beginning the keys were known. Their place and purpose was common knowledge. They were discussed in passing as we might talk about the weather, the planning of meals, or the news. The keys made life what it was: they unlocked the people’s joys and sorrows, they opened new spaces within which to begin, become and belong. They gave them access to adventure, growth, grieving and love, finding and leaving, succeeding and failing, wanting and being enough.
The keys kept the song of the world in tune, according each the measure of who they were, each knowing the reasons for the bars in the way, each aware of the immense value of the rests and how the melody could not proceed where silence was not allowed.

And then, gradually, the keys were forgotten, lost. No one could say what or where they were. No children were taught their purpose and meaning. No elders wove stories of love and belonging, grief and mending. Soon enough, such neglect took its toll.

First, the threads, soft strings that kept the world in tune, in resonant resilience, began to unravel. For the most part this unraveling went unnoticed. Only the composers among the people, trained to listen deeply to the ever present song, heard the dissolution into discord. They would often give voice to the unstable harmonies, the discordant measures, trying desperately to change the way notes were conducted over and over again long after their time had passed. Most of their warnings fell on deaf ears. Sometimes people merely increased the volume of their own individual melodies in order to drown everything else out; sometimes the composers new and disturbing melodies would abruptly be brought to an end. These latter reactions made the music of the world more and more unbearable. The strings screeched and snagged, scratched and snapped. And this calamitous clamor only amplified, increasing in tempo and pitch.

People grew frantic and desperate. They no longer could remember what the song was for, or why it existed at all. In their forgetting, they began to no longer value individual melodies. In the forgetting, they lost their threads of their stories. In their forgetting, they no longer understood the necessity of rests, that music needed not only sound but its absence to survive.

So the people found it normal to insist that the best melodies were those which never had pauses, but went on and on without ceasing. They invented ways to play ever longer series of notes without ceasing. One of the fastest ways to do this was to play the same notes over and over again without ceasing. Eventually, generations of people never rested, but lived and died without ceasing, in ignorance of the sound of silence.

Finally the time came when this arrangement was no longer a sustainable option for anyone. The din was chaotic, catastrophically cacophonous. No one wanted to part with their many unmusical creations which they valued so dearly. And so it was decided that the song should be shut away. For so long the people had shut out the silence, confining it to emptiness the way one might drive light into its shadow. In a strange twist of fate, the land ceased its singing, and the shadow was all that remained.

The people needed a way to contain such a vastly woven web of song which for so long had throbbed at the center of life like the heart and soul of the world. At once the greatest engineers of the land held a great convention at which it was decided that they should forge an iron chest and that the song should be confined to it, instead of being allowed as it was to flow and flood everyone and everything, sending as it did so the pulse of itself everywhere.

The task was undertaken immediately, and people were congratulated on how much progress they made as they worked ceaselessly to finish, day and night. At its completion, they poured the song inside, slamming the heavy lid to seal it in with a clang. It is said that, though many lost their lives in the chest’s creation, once it had been buried no one could remember how to cry for their lost ones. They did not even know how to speak to one another. Now, even the song is lost, hidden in the land where it awaits the time when once again it is set free to restore balance to the earth and soften the hardened and harsh hearts of humankind.

I don’t know why I was the one to discover the chest these centuries later, its hinges twisted and rusted with time, its three locks mocking and massive, its contents as mysterious as the legend left to us in our fading memory.

Perhaps, as I have been told I came from a line of composers, I was simply blessed with the fortune: whether good or ill I cannot yet say. All I know is the all-consuming search for the keys. All I have to follow is this single stray note according to which I can discover them. It reads: “Compassion, Gentleness, Division: at their beginning, these words hold the keys. For these are all that is needed to set singing a changing, growing, turning world. Each breaks the heavy heart of silence. Each turns a lock in the chest. When each is placed where it belongs and all three are held equally together, the song will return.”

The first part is easy enough to figure out. The beginning letters of the words are C, G, and D. But as to how and in what way these could be keys, I cannot say. Perhaps you remember?

In response to Sue’s photo prompt, The Chest.

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Wordless

I have had little to say
For I cannot both speak
And share these silences
Heavy with honesty

Hidden heartbeats
Leaves uncurling
Reaching hands

I cannot map change onto an undiscovered landscape
Describe time’s tides not yet sailed
Or make verses of untold

Fragile possibilities
Nascent and naked
Stretching soft tendrils
To touch a turning world

I cannot choreograph the wondrous waves
Crashing down croppings of rock
To cradle the clay creature I am

Cascading a cadence, playful and wild
As the wind whips them free
Flying, falling, sea strand and sea
Uncertainty churning the breath of the sky

How it cries aloud what could be my name
And how I am leaping, leaping through
Before I even understand

Breathless and smiling
Swept up, gathered close in
Fierce love, bewildered, untamed

Circle Poem

Change moves silently through this place
Embrace it if you dare
Where is the future you wish to shape
Escape the illusion of control
Whole worlds could go by without you knowing
Glowing with mysteries all their own
Wind-blown, and shimmering in the soft-spun light
Delighting in possibility, no fear
Here where moments are born
Torn from the fabric of unkempt time
Sublime, unnerving, beautiful, strange
Change moves silently through this place

The Difficulty with Making New Friends

Isolation is a frozen pond,
Achingly glacial blue.
Breaking the surface,
I can’t gloss over what doesn’t serve me anymore.

The future holds people I might come to know and befriend,
But I would have to talk to strangers,
And the past with its doubts shatters me–
Waits to lap up the tears that won’t fall.

What about it? Taking off into the world,
Tramping onto buses,off trains,
Tired, traversing time and uncharted roads,
Just to meet someone who might not love me?

I spend too much time alone in empty spaces,
So I’ll have to reach out, start again,
A falling star, hopefully crash landing into belonging.
Think again, if that at all sounds reassuring.

Despite this, I put myself in your hands,
I will take the steps unknowing,
Going out into the world once more,
I am pulled into the earnest embrace of this year,

Like a moth to a flame.
How it roars and crackles,
And cackles, and cries,
And beckons and flails wildly.

The untamed, unpredictable choice is:
come together or fall apart.
But when it’s my turn to cross that threshold,
I fleetingly wish to be anywhere else.

Flashlight eyes,
Outstretched hands,
A place for me somewhere I can’t imagine,
Shining with love and compassion.

And there’s nothing about the mystery
To suggest anything but uncertainty,
Transformation could be as wondrous as painful,
Colliding into the light we’re drawn to.

Scorched into completion, the same reason
Why we can’t find pollution on the sun,
It all gets burned away,
In a flash, just like that.

It’s been said that we cannot be humble
Without suffering and sorrow,
So silently we provide them hospitality
To guarantee we won’t become full of ourselves.

But surely learning our worth, our strength and our care of it,
Is worth being proud of,
And we will never wake up if we believe
We don’t have it within us to open our eyes

The Salmon of Knowledge _ When Two Worlds Meet: Part 12

December 22, 2013

It is now Tuesday, and I have yet to hear from Caoilte or Oisín about the letter I sent them. I wonder whether this has been the best way to communicate. I do remember thinking, however, that if anyone from the otherworld would read a letter on a computer screen, Caoilte would.

Now however, my anxiety over whether or not anyone will understand is growing rapidly. Are they angry? Have I failed my commitment to do my best in all things and follow through on what I say? This last thought threatens to send me into despair. After all, I said that my place was theirs also, and now I am taking it back. I remind myself that I am changing my mind for good, perhaps even legitimate reasons, but I cannot convince myself that those in the otherworld will find such reasons sufficient. I am hoping I have not inadvertently created a conflict. More than that, however, I take the vow I have made to live by the fianna’s values extremely seriously and would rather not break it in only four weeks’ time because I hadn’t the foresight to realize just what I could and could not commit to.

I get to my routine Tuesday appointment, conveniently within walking distance from home, a good fifteen minutes early. Happy with myself on this count, I sit down on the plush couch in the waiting room and close my eyes. I’m going to use this time to think.

Thinking yields a plan of action that, I admit, feels outlandish to me. Where did this idea come from? It is this: go talk to the salmon of knowledge and ask after how Oisín and Caoilte and the rest of the fianna feel about my decision.

In my mind, I recall the story in which Fionn, comes by the wisdom of the salmon. The salmon, Finton, acquires the wisdom of the ages from eating the nuts of the nine hazel trees which I have only learned very recently are said to have stood around Nechtan’s Well at the mouth of the river Boyne. The druid Finegas gives young Fionn the task of cooking up the salmon as well as warns him not to eat any of it in the process. However, while cooking it, Fionn attempts to squelch a blister on the salmon’s skin. In doing so, he burns his thumb, which he instinctively places in his mouth. Upon hearing this, Finegas instructs Fionn to eat the salmon, as its knowledge is obviously meant for him to have.

Closing my eyes, I am surprised at how easy it is to come by a place I should know little about. The grove of the hazel trees is so vivid to me, that I can’t imagine I’ve never been here before. But I can’t fathom how or when this could have happened. It is located near a very steep hill, which by my rough estimation is 20-30 degrees in slope. I must walk up the hill and down the other side to get there properly, avoiding lots of loose rocks and tree roots along the way. The pool is surrounded by many slopes leading down to it, in fact, and lies slightly below the grove which lines the slow stream running straight through the middle of the trees.

As I walk into the grove, I suddenly remember things that seem rather silly to find important at the moment. Facts such as that there are better places to wash, it isn’t safe to navigate the stream or even some of the river it turns into further on with a boat or coracle, and that the willow trees nearby can’t properly burn in a fire. Since I am not interested in making a fire, washing in the stream, or boating, I wonder briefly where these seemingly random thoughts have come from, and why. I decide I definitely have to have come here before even if I find it baffling.

It’s super cold and windy here today. Due to the time zone difference, my venture at 11:15 A.M. pacific standard time puts me in the grove at about 7:15 in the evening. The water feels like it is under sixty degrees when I test it, and after leaving my hands in it for over a minute, they turn numb. Around me the leaves rustle in the wind, while the stream gurgles around small boulders and dances over pebbles. I sit on an ancient flat rock with my hands in the water, hoping the salmon of knowledge will appear sooner than later.

After five or so minutes, a relatively short time, I note to myself, I see the salmon in the water and catch it immediately. To be fair, I think it is easy for me to get hold of the salmon only because, a few months before hand, I have a dream in which I catch the salmon of knowledge in my hands. Since allowed this in the dream, it seems that the salmon is quite happy to hang out again with me now. Holding the salmon gently under the water, I realize with relief that I don’t actually have to enact cooking it or sucking my thumb. This is quite fortunate for the both of us, I have to say, the exemption from thumb-sucking particularly appreciated on my end of things. Just touching it is sufficient. Unsure of whether or not sending pictures to the salmon in my head is an effective way to communicate, I give it a try anyway and ask my question.

Next, I let the salmon go, after thanking it for its help in the matter. Then, I wait. Not for long, it turns out. But I have to say, the next few minutes pass with interminable slowness. I have finally come home. The last thing I would ever want to do is find myself rejected after such a long time yearning after and searching for those in the otherworld with whom I truly belong. I am sincerely worried, convinced that I can’t trust myself to ever do the right thing, and it is a bit existentially terrifying to not know where I stand. These are the feelings I have in any similar situation in this world, but somehow multiplied exponentially in this situation where I tell myself that I might lose everything– an everything the likes of which in this world I have never known. Yet, as these things so often go, I am soon to have a lesson in just what real belonging looks like, and it is, for the most part and with some crucial exceptions, the truth against anything my past experience urges me to believe.

Presently, the salmon returns, with an answer in the form of a picture. of course everyone understands why I’ve had to close the portals to the otherworld, and have not been upset with me in the slightest. I can let go of my concerns. Real belonging is unconditional. It is my own sense of separateness and fear that has prevented me from knowing this before. Succumbing to the fear of rejection, I have inadvertently spun an illusion of the very isolation I dread around me, until I have convinced myself that “real” belonging is conditional and capricious, any actual evidence otherwise notwithstanding.

Secondly, they have been waiting for me to recognize the value of my own needs and commitment to myself, and change my mind. They’ve known for a while it hasn’t been working out for me, but I needed to come to this realization on my own, and they are surprised by how long it has taken me to concede. I, however, am not surprised. Conceding, it seems, is only something I do once it becomes absolutely necessary. It has now become necessary. However, at any moment beforehand, I was determined to stand my ground indefinitely. Oh well: I know myself well enough to recognize I can be recalcitrant, even to my own detriment. “Perhaps such a steadfast commitment to self-defeating stubbornness is no longer needed?” is the suggestion offered kindly in the picture. I find the idea a bit strange, against my instincts really, but because it is part of the picture, I start to take it seriously, a little at a time.

Later that day I get a very vivid vision. I am told that if I go to the Aquatic Park, to a particular tree near a picnic table I’ve found last week, I will find a gift from Oisín to thank me for the hospitality I’ve shown the fianna. I have hosted so many of his family and friends that he wishes to give me a tangible token of their gratitude. It is clear from the picture he sends me that he doubts I’ll consistently remember the bit about just how understanding everyone has been and still is, unless there is something in this world to remind me. I have to admit he is probably right about that. Moved by such unexpected reciprocated generosity and full of curiosity at what Oisín has in mind, I decide that tomorrow, as soon as I can get out, I’m going to head off and investigate. I’ve now forgotten all about doubt and worry which have been replaced by the sheer excitement of participating in this unfolding mystery that spans two worlds. So, in my return picture I say, “Wow, that’s incredibly thoughtful of you. Oh, and if there are more adventures to go send me on, I’m up for it.”

The Enormity of Our Selves

For a second, I turn my eyes inside away from the glare of noise and lights and sirens and crying babies and dire news blaring into eyes and ears. I listen to something other than the clatter of a world begging for attention from every direction, every time and space, every joy and need. There are sunrises and sunsets, trees, pets, opportunities and friends, all for which to run about, to notice, and to heed.

Yet, somewhere beneath the surface of the self I present outwardly, is a wild, fearless, determined, patient unwavering light. It glows blue and green and violet. There is still, peaceful, expectant water in a pool just below the rocks. There are places for sun and shade. There are places to be overcome with joy. There are places to lay my sorrow and watch it seep away, slowly transforming into what will grow into new life. This is a place for me, all for me.

I don’t know what tomorrow, or next year, or the year after will bring or why I persist in the things I do, or where my path will lead, or what being of this time and not another has fixed about the perspective I will either share or not share with other people. But in that space beyond the ordered chaos of the comings and goings of the calamity of living, I am collected like tears out of disparate rivers and there unknown destinations, and coalesce that way transparent and clear, whole regardless of how many signals pulse out from that one, centered bead, and fragment into the broken information that travels trembling and unsure of itself to the outside where others might listen and receive.

If only we had ears to hear the songs of each others’ beginnings, we might not respond to love with fear. Being close would not be a burden, a burst of concessions: “I am vulnerable and just as human as you are.” Instead, everything would testify to life.

Awful and awesome once shared similar meanings. The sublime is not just in nature outside us, but our own nature as well. We are mysterious and mesmerizing, the kind of being that inspires wonder and terror, joy and caution. To understand ourselves, we cross a threshold out of which nothing exits tamed. I think this is what captures us, captivates us. The enormity of ourselves. The wildness at the heart of us. Strong and intricately woven like spider’s thread.

We scream and cry and flail and judge and give and take and try and fail and soar and fall and act and sleep and love and push away and build and tear apart and fear and long and hurt and heal. We are none of these things.

We are the streams of blues and greens, we are the songs throughout the woven sky sung through the stars and the silent seeds that spring from moonlit nights and soaring things. We are the stillness that contains the wild cry, we are knotted so inextricably into the weaving, and when we cast aside our needing to keep grasping what we mistake for what we are, no longer fear its loss and leaving: then we arrive at the threshold of being, part of a strange and endless dreaming, where tides will shift without receding. We are the light by which we’re seeing, our shining radiance is spirit singing.

How many dive beneath the waves that crash relentlessly upon fragile, fragmented lives, to find that glow so deep inside, enfold them in silence, until they recognize who they really are for the first time. I am the light in every world. I’ve let go of what gets left behind. I have heard that wild song, belonging to everyone, yours, and mine.

I will love and fear and do and plan and strive and wonder if I’ll ever fly. Still, the enormity of ourselves dares and calls and cries to us to look into each others’ eyes and stand with nothing left to hide, together in the mystery that shines, and shines. In each of us the mystery: flesh and bone but made of light, vast and small within us all, finite and ephemeral, but so alive, ever alive.

surrendering The Struggle

Fighting what is,
I am undone, threads wound
Fragment, pain tears through somewhere.

Rising, hoping to face nothing but the light,
I try to bargain with my ancestors.
It’s hold-on, keep-going, fall-apart, hold-on,

Solve wholeness like a puzzle,
Scream and flail into exhaustion.
Only then, softly, is each piece mended.

Now, standing still,
Waiting for dawn to break,
I make peace with darkness,

At its heart the hidden colors,
Dormant but alive,
Allow and shape the haunted and disowned.

I learn to love them,
My broken pieces,
Before the rising sun.

I walk by my shadow,
Insist on it,
Warm and needy.

That is courage,
To hold out hands and welcome
This still, searching night.

It knows my name,
Hears my cries, sees my scars,
Enfolds me like a child in its arms.

I let go, helplessly falling,
Tenebrous now, tumbling through silence,
I, like latent color, shine unseen.

And suddenly sky bursts open
With nascent golden flame,
Lightly, I soar, become a shooting star.

Plato’s Cave

Again I’ve stepped from Plato’s cave
Where no idea is self-made,
Surprised how cold thought’s pure embrace,
Beneath eternity’s marble face.

I’ve come before here once or twice,
Its beauty chiseled out of ice,
Such stillness, not a rock exhales,
Pristine, unmoved, things-in-themselves.

A permanent transcendent time,
Is the world of Forms, the Good, Sublime.
Staring out of fixed stone eyes,
A changeless gaze, a semblance of the wise.

But what’s remembered lives, it’s the truth I understand,
And the whispering trees whose spring leaves appear,
In winter shake their branches clear,
Cycles turn time’s circling hands.

Mired in the sticky sap of love,
Gently dry the loss from grief stained eyes,
And the unkempt joy and laughter of
Each person’s full and fragile life.

Such a vibrant, wondrous mystery,
Sacred the shadows, sacred the living light.
What tales can be shared without a history,
Or in the silence of perfection, where no day follows night?

I have no need of any rescuing,
Nor need of wandering the ideal world above,
And it’s in the breaking open, that I fly free,
To soar with laughter, tears, and love.

Beltane Eve

I sing the tenebrous tale of night, land of nod
And the nocturnal cricket to its chanting

Gently take reign of the twilight day
Away the glaring fire of the sky yonder flies

Casting peaceful shadows
Where upon evanescent waking drift away

And solitude in its silent walk subdues the endless chatter of the world
Stilling all that once scurried in the frenzied sun

That internal chaos still lingering in the depths of you
From eternal darkness starts to surface

Night knows The spirit’s yearning, secret and longing
Penumbral and reaching, where no light burns

In me the starlight dwindles to black
Visible now nothing but the pupils of their eyes

Save for where vast folds of emptiness
Shine beyond wisps of old mist, dispersed and demure

I weave the journey of the shining ones along their pathways
Through the hearth fires of That Which Watches

And once every moonbeam mine has gone to rest
Freedom behind the shield of night safely stirs

Over the stilled and the hushed and the haunted
The freedom fog crouches undaunted

I sing the rain, I sing the sky
To rise above, to fall, to fly

And I drop the golden leaves
They, like tears, swirl through their falling

I do not sing the leaves to rest
For like a mother who’s lost many children

The earth will gather them expiring
Molding them to herself with her breathing

Melting into greens and greys
I’ll be made whole, once more come home

Brought to the center of an essence which never runs dry
My pain forgotten in moonlit arms

The only voices are of we
Dusted darkly from the very beginning
Free and sharp and clear

I invoke the mercurial mystery of being
Shapeshifter with no name

Who’s child blossoms life anew
Glistening in the predawn like the dew

Whose hollering shadows in the hunt
Dart across open planes of stars
And what dare linger there to catch, is ours

To The Four Who Helped Me Heal: I Remember You In All I Do

I sit in my room in California at a computer with words in my head, and wonder briefly what you would think of this place Or of us, so starved of space and time,  so anguished to find purpose and meaning and a sense of our own measure.  With tears in my eyes, I am afraid that I am unable to mend the torn And shattered places where we  are full of pain.  Afraid that I will not know how to gather this screaming, ravaged and wounded world Into my arms, close to my heart like a mother cradles her child,   and with gentle hands and soft murmurings, allow it to remember itself  and let go, sob like an infant for all that’s broken within it. 

 

All I yearned to do out on a walk today was sit with back against tree so we could console each other, the tree and me.  Instead I walked without rest like a wandering shade because I could never come to a tree alone without getting lost. Because of how many violations of love do I have the privilege to live where I do?  Because of how many truths trampled in the clash of cultures, twisted within the bindings of forced misremembering, do I go out and walk this world?  I don’t know whether you’re gone to another world or whether or not we have all run from the startling possibilities you show us are always within ourselves.  If only we were not afraid of our own power, our own voices. 

 

They say you lie still, well met by those with the courage to turn their eyes inward, hidden within the caverns of Ériu, among the sidhe.  Within the underground passageways blocked and overcrowded with discarded forgotten ones, we stored the maps to our souls and we could not retrieve them.  We left all who dwell there to shine a light of their own ineffectively at the bare gray walls where no one living dares to tread. 

 

I heard your call, faint and distant on the wind, and answered you, journeying to that forbidding landscape, hushed with the heavy presence of an ancient imprint, where a traveler twice blew the Dord Fiann, but I found nothing there.  I tried to excavate shadows of what could have been.  I scrambled, falling and sliding,  along the limestone paths leading underground that spiral down, down, down.  I hurled myself into motion, and shouted what words you lived by– the truth against the world–, and gave an almost forgotten cry, and threw my wild defiant spirit so that it flew as high as the dome of the sky.  And tears fell on my hands like rain, but I could not recover all that lies dormant within us, or disentangle your memories from the snares and trappings of our history. 

 

So I stayed where you are, sitting down with you,, unwilling to fly like the wind when you could not now do so yourselves.  We exchanged stories, and though mine were few and yours were numbered as many to formulate an age, we found the grit and color of our everyday living had carved it’s deep lines into the faces of all of us in turn.  And slowly the sound of all things that happen resounded throughout all I’ve ever been, and all I am now. 

 

And then I realized  the cave was merely a projection made by this day’s obsession with fear when, in fact, we each are standing on the tallest hill.  Each watching the sun rise, so close we could reach out, hold each others’ hands, though our times here on this sacred ground are farther apart than a millennium. For a moment, our journeys crossed, and in that moment I felt the walls dissolve and in their place, Green and shimmering, hundreds of miles of fields, and a peace I never could have dreamed.

 

But I did dream, and have done better than dream.  In my dreams I have come to the land of the young, Tír na nóg.  In my dreams I have been to the places you once walked the earth, fierce with wise wonder.  I have spoken with you face to face and you stood by me unconditionally.  And despite the caves and the fear and the many running from who they are, those of us who still remember Rekindle the light that otherwise might have gone out of our eyes, and are not afraid to stand by our own experience, not afraid to blaze with every fiber of our being, burning with passions that never had names, shining out from the very core of our wild and wondrous, mysterious and majestic selves, like living stars.