windowless windows~reflections on a winter morning
Jan 7, 2020
"Every moment is enormous, and it is all we have," Natalie Goldberg, in Long Quiet Highway...
Yes, Natalie, enormous, more than we will ever know, sacred too, more than we will ever know... at least in this life, in this body, more than we will ever know.
* * *
Listening to Joni Mitchell sing "Both Sides Now"...- "Tears, A Surprise Visit"...
listening beautiful words and sad words eyes rain feeling the wetness bowing and "Thank You" and this is Your arrival again
yes somehow, I feel, I know, a lifetime is inside the tears this song has pulled out from somewhere
should I say this should I welcome anyone so close
but Oh no! I don't want to leave here leaving anything back undone unsaid
I want to leave someone saying not "He gave us something" but "He gave himself"
I want to leave someone saying not "He gave us his words" but "He invited us into his heart"
I want to leave someone saying "He lived what he believed in- Love"- Yes, Love-You- most precious of all"
With this, I would have lived well, if not this, would I have lived at all
And somehow I know-yes, feel-knowing this, You, death is not a threat but an invitation from life to life
* * *
You become a ritual, an embodied means to Life, to God, to Love-or no word is needed-when you give your whole self, fearlessly open the heart to another and, thereby say, "Welcome, come in."
Maybe, that has been my desire, now for many years, what has inspired me along this path, simply to be a walking invitation. No, not my needing to say anything, simply that one feels and knows he or she is fully embraced in something so much more than he or she or we or I. If that happens, even for a moment, what greater Gift? I want, then, my life to be a living Prayer, a breathing Rite, a welcome from my solitude to the solitude alive within the other, the meeting place of Love-with-Love.
* * *
from the abyss of waters ascended a bloody bough from that deathliness grew a Tree of Life
tilt the Chalice drench me in the Wine no other baptism will wash me
the church blew down with force of Wind "Why, my Friend?" So you can see Me
* * *
She gave me a beautiful card, one she had designed herself. It rests upon the window, part of the altar before which I sit and read and write. Through the glass I see the hill and trees, and this morning, the snow here in Maine. We are into what I call winter winter, beyond winter. Being from the deep south, we would go many years without any snow and never get into temperatures near this cold. The Sun, shining, too, will warm this day Earth. Here, right here, a windowless window, all that is here to the great Unknown, and Earth, all this invitation-To what? Such is never the same, never, so what was never is. Not exciting, too subtle for that. Love, not emotional, deeper. God, so domesticated and trite that word misleads now as much as leads. So... What?
* * *
For some, the place of formal worship, a church, a synagogue, an ashram, a mosque, a chapel, ... in itself or with the ritual enacted therein will be a window. I was reminded of this this morning, reading a recollection of Doris Grumbach, in The Presence of Absence...
Twenty years ago I went to midnight Mass in the beautiful Ranchos de Taos church in New Mexico. As the service was starting, a very young Native American man with a heavily blanketed baby in his arms sat down beside me in the pew. He knelt at once and seemed to hold the baby up to the back of the pew in front of him as if he were directing his prayer to it or asking for something for it. Although there was room between us, he never put the bundle of sleeping baby down during the entire Mass, carrying it with him when he went to the rail for communion.
Then, when the rest of us returned to our seats, he made a short detour from the rail to the crêche at the side of the altar, knelt and held the child as close to the cradle of hay as he could. He said something I couldn’t hear. I decided he was introducing his child to the one whose birthday we were celebrating, but no matter: whatever he said (or prayed), his posture before the crêche, his moving lips, and the light that shone in his brown eyes as he came back to the pew, was a moment to which I could only give the name “grace,” an epiphany, a sight granted to an unworthy but grateful spectator.
* * *
She, too, sat in the chapel on the grounds of San Pedro. I had never attended a rite like this, not until this week been in a Catholic worship meeting. I had arrived at this Franciscan center, in Orlando, Florida, due to going on a silent retreat with one of the members of my church, a man who took an advanced class in Silence under my guidance, and the center was celebrating the birthday of Francis of Assisi. This was all foreign to me, but I was willing to enter into the spirit of the occasion as best I could.
So, without understanding what was going on, I found myself sitting quietly with others in this semi-dark sanctuary. What most I recall is the woman sitting far from me, on my right, but so I could see her face. Her face appeared aglow with what I recognized as love, with joy. I recalled her from earlier, she worked at the center. I found out later she, as we all were, was engaged in a rite of Adoration, in which the blessed bread, believed to be the body of Christ, rested on the altar in what is called the Tabernacle.
This occasion was some fifteen years ago. I remember that look, that shine on the face, and it reminds me what is most important, whether in a place of worship or, here, in my room alone, whether praying, or talking to a friend, whatever and where ever. I am reminded that persons connect with this beautiful Grace through ritual, either formal or not. The radiant face of that woman still reminds me, that of this world, of form, connects us alone or together, with Love.
* * *
When I first began publishing writings, I got a surprise email from an acquaintance. He kindly informed me he could see how anger was being expressed through the writing. I did not intend this. I was not ready to hear him, though. He asked, "What's it you're so angry about?" As to prove his point, I got angry. I could not see that all the hurt inside me, much of it against the institutional church, was finding its way into my writing, so, into my life overall. Over time, with healing, there was a move from the anger toward wanting my work, and, yes, my life, my very self, to be a sacrament of Presence, a means of Adoration. Yes, for persons to be invited, as was that dear woman through the bread on an altar in a Franciscan chapel, to know and feel a Love surpassing all loves.
* * *
One cold spring morning years ago I went to an early service in a Washington church within the close of the cathedral. I sat in my usual pew. A newcomer, a man whose age I could not guess, so covered was his face with beard and strands of long hair, came to the pew in front of me, moved to its end, and knelt. He wore a torn, knitted watch cap and a long, gray overcoat full of holes and without buttons. His shoes were remnants of colorless leather through which I could see the skin of his sockless feet.
The church was crowded, eight people in every pew. I watched as newcomers at the back spotted the one nearly empty pew and moved toward it, only to stop at the sight of the gray, kneeling vagrant and turn away to look for some other seat. Through the short liturgy he knelt there alone, a castaway on the only island in the church, his odor filling the space around him. He ignored the risings for the singing of hymns, the standing at the reading of the Gospel, the summons to the communion rail, so engrossed did he seem to be in his prayers.
I waited until the church was almost empty to see if he would leave with us, but when I reached the door he was still kneeling in the pew, a solitary, an isolato, left behind by prosperous parishioners and elegantly robed officials, needing none of us, sufficient unto himself, still absorbed in his prayers. I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that he was not acquainted with Merton’s observation in Contemplative Prayer: “Once God has called you to solitude, everything you touch leads you further into solitude.”
* * *
I hold her hands, move my fingers upon her hands. Adoring her hands, feeling her hands, this touching like touching Christ. I look at them. I feel lost, again. Where? No words. Receding from all things, into solitude. Yet, not alone, oh no! not alone.
Is it not amazing how hands, like feeling a song, can open the heart to Life?
Those hands, yes, as surely as... Earth Sky Raindrops Wind Music Poetry Memories Sadness Clouds Births Deaths Days Nights Smiles Tears ...
an invitation to the Heart and our Heart
* * *
no I don't know what love is but I can love you and that's enough for me
Video can be accessed on original site via upper left title below...