my solitary journey

one

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
They day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

~~Rumi

If my solitary journey is to be discovered and walked alone, and if it has to do with the soul and destiny, and if I’ve seen and understood these things, then it behooves me to contemplate constantly, to apply intent to what I do and say, to pursue the mystic life, and then to let it all go and live within the finely ornamented borders of the present moment.   Rather like a butterfly, I’d say.  Certainly like a bat.  There I am, hanging upsidedown… contemplating, you know.

In terms of my early years, I could spend time telling you that perhaps I’d been a bright young thing; but lonely, anxious and angry.  I could tell you, too, that I’d been traumatized over certain things that happened to me.  But – no – I’d far rather tell you about my one burning question as a youngster.  You see, I want to tell you this question because I believe it to be one of life’s few essential questions.  I can validate it for you if you know this question.  And I can give it to you if you don’t know it.

Oh!  What is it, you say?  Why, that’s simple.  Because it’s quite logical. 

Life’s first essential question is, “Where was I before I was born?”


two

moving through dimensions

In the summer of 2006, I wrote a book.  I wrote the whole thing at Spindrift on Lake Huron.  I wrote it because something compelled me to.  Was it the glorious, ever-reformatting clouds that drifted and hung like symphonies over Lake Huron?  Was it the fact that I had lost my only sibling, Margaret, very quickly to cancer in March of that year?  Was it a foreboding and a preparation for what would start to happen to my son, my firstborn, at the end of this same year?  Yes, I’d say… yes, to all of the above.  And… yes, to the presence of the Holy Spirit “hovering on bent wings.”[1]

I wasn’t very far along in the book when I realized that I’d like my friend, Andrew Ruhl, to react to my writing in a more formal way than is our usual style when either of us is writing.  Andrew and I have known each for a long time, can discuss anything… and indeed do.  And so began the two of us carrying along with what was being called After the Interval.  The Interval, you see, is our time on earth.  And now we’re back to my question.  Where was I before I was born?  I began to see clearly that our time here is to advance our souls… comparable to going off to university somewhere distant from Home and returning when we’ve advanced.

And so, I knew where I’d been before I was born.  Home.  I’d been Home and I was going to return Home.

It’s difficult to describe this wonderful, round-sounding, richly resonant four-letter word.  Margaret and I worked on the description during her departure time, finding words inadequate and ideas fleeting.  We talked about colours beyond the spectrum, words that turned to music and birdsongs at eventide when eventide was a random happening.

[1] Gerard Manley Hopkins in “God’s Grandeur”, loosely paraphrased


As far as I know, the only person ever to teach this topic from full consciousness was the one who left young and willingly—perhaps willfully.  His purpose in yielding to torture, humiliation and death was, in part, to mark death, in a big, historic sense and moment, as a transition… another birth… a Return.  He demonstrated the way and process of the coming from and the returning to the Kingdom of God.  As always, words fail.  It’s not a Kingdom.  I know that much.  That’s our dim vision speaking.  And our lack of vocabulary and memory.  He told us a great deal about the Return; however, we have a tendency to look to the records in a closed, “justify me” way for this world.  We think that this focus on the here and now will be the way to Heaven, and we miss all that he said about why we’re here and where we’re going.  Indeed, he went so far as to say that great preparation had been done, that there was a “place” for us and that he needed to leave to prepare that place.  To be rather rudimentary, that’s like us telling our kids they’re always welcome at home.  It’s a return to where they first belonged.
 
O’Donohue calls Jesus our “first other.”  In saying this, he intimates that Jesus intentionally came here to illuminate The Way.  It’s The Way of Intent.  Of Consciousness.  Of Awareness.  Of Choice.  Of Remembrance.  It’s The Way Home, for Heaven’s sake!  I think many get seized by needless controversial details and righteousness and miss this message.  There’s such a huge danger in religion of becoming frozen either in belief or disbelief, which are actually very closely related.

Ellyn in After the Interlude

three

                                        A PILGRIM’S GARDEN

Dearest Friend,

It’s steamy and perfumed in my magical garden.  I’ve just spent two hours there, shaping and being – just me, my secateurs, my pruning saw and the continuous thoughts and sensations of life.  How wonderful!

And now, I have a stem of lily-of-the-valley emitting its redolent sweetness right in front of me on top of Castaneda’s book… by the computer, of course!  I’m so grateful when I can do my things without any intrusions.  It’s just me – fragrance, books, work and enchantment.

At this time of year, the garden is still critical in our lives.

In amongst the prickly and the feathery, making ready for the birthing to come, I saw the garden that is my life.  I have undergone quite an evolution – from wherever it is that we come, to the tough prairie childhood, to the gentler, but perhaps more furtive, environment of the most densely populated part of this vast country.

I started off gardening, actually.  A few years ago I found my mother’s five year diary in the middle of which I was born.  What an odd experience this book brought my way.  I had mixed feelings, partly because I was never sure how much truth there was in her repetitive protestations of her love for me.  All too often, the behaviour was radically different from the words.  I have long sensed that there was a problem or disruption in our bonding process.  I’ve come to terms with the difficult relationship we had.  But I looked, hunted, scoured, for clues about us in her diary.  What I came away with was that every day was apparently lovely and that I spent a goodly part of my waking hours outside with my father.

This I remember!  I remember how he showed me how to put seeds “to sleep” so that they could rest and grow into the wonderful vegetables and flowers we ate and sniffed together in the late summer.  I remember helping him water the soil that he enriched with compost because nothing was rich in the often brutal climate of Saskatchewan. I still hear his voice telling me that plants must be soaked thoroughly and long – or not at all!  I hear his laughter in the garden and I see him tying my bonnet on so that I could have a hat for protection like he always wore and believed in.  Because he taught me, I find God in the garden – or God finds me – it doesn’t matter.  I can feel the horse-feeding bag around my waist as I did when he got my sister and me ready to pick raspberries, and I hear his laughter splash over me as I complain about the prickles.  And gently, sweetly, beautifully, I hear his clear tenor voice singing, “The Lord God planted a garden in the first white days of the earth, and placed there an angel warden in a garment of white enfurled…”

A few friends have asked me about my love for lily-of-the-valley perfume and reminded me that my father gave it to me frequently.  Today, I realized why I have had for so long a very mixed response to lily-of-the-valley in May. I was early drawn to its delicacy and fragrance.  It had to be part of my springtime, even if it often did, for some strange reason, make me sad.  I see that the mixed response comes from both the joy and the sadness of my childhood.  And from my missing.  And from my wishing.  And from my loving.  And from my knowing that I can still sing with the man who was so gentle that he would wash my hair with the rainwater he caught in a barrel and heated on our wood stove.

our song goes like this….

The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.

So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.

And I dream that these garden closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth –
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Dorothy Frances Gurney

Can you hear it?

the kiss of the sun for pardon

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