Monday, January 6, 2014

Gnosis: A Poem for January 6, 2014


Sometimes, it’s not useful to know too much;
all scripture, in all traditions,
are only man speaking to man,
the woman’s voice hushed whispers,
echoing them
and sometimes,
not even that.
I listened to a modern Sufi talk about chivalry,
and he illustrated the ideal with the story of his aunt,
killed in the resistance against Germany.
He held her up because she didn’t give up
anything when tortured.
She died not for religion or country
but for freedom.

I’ve never met freedom, how about you?
Touched it’s hair, kissed its eyelids?

Just one more incident of sati, really,
another female body on a man’s fire.
All gone, her stories, her music her love of children—
these were things that could have healed people,
no matter who won the war.
The Pir held her journal,
but he was not really celebrating her life.

There will always be violence.

Look at our sun
the raging compression and wild explosions
as matter shares space with matter.
The Pir’s aunt would have always had a bonfire to throw herself on;
its always there, for any of us,
even if we playfully change its name over and over.
Its always a waste
to be barbequed for ideology.
I distrust anyone who makes it a virtue.
I admit it; every time I think I have found a lover’s path,
a patented “way” to God so that I might have
the company of other lovers,
it’s tainted by history or culture.

Ramakrishna and Kabir both had no trouble
with a wife throwing herself on her husband’s death pyre.
How can the rest of their words make up for that kind
of blind horror?

Even Rumi, locked away with Shams,
how did his wife feel then?
We know how his sons took it—they killed the interloper
and we?
We are shocked.
But why?

I will tell you the truth: 
any worship of another human or their personal ideas
is idolatry.
And the Buddha and Jesus we have inherited?
aloof, a-sexual, noble martyrs in the end,
I want to put a shuttle in their hands,
let them throw it back and forth,
let them weave something with all the colors of life.
If they can do that mindfully, lovingly,
and then fall into bed and lose themselves
in the embrace of warm, living reality?
Those would be men I could learn from.

This is not how the Mystery made us,
to stand up and out and be made into statues
with fingers that have become so swollen as they
point to the moon,
that the fullest, brightest light
can’t seep through,
that our hands become so rigid
they can’t curve around another’s flesh
and feel the fragile bones beneath.

Even the women’s ways, the new ones—
they are a kind of lie as well,
burying menstrual rags in the yard,
painting bodies in wild creative rushes,
changing the language to reflect equality, equity--

Wake up!

Can’t you just take your child’s hand,
walk with him along the beach and see
the ever present interplay of male and female,
hear the roar of the ocean,
calling that one note
that requires all of our voices to chime
and then
slice the apple,
pat the dog's head
and call it benediction enough?

Would you douse the raging fire and
stop groveling before these idols we keep making for ourselves?
Can you surrender discipline in exchange
for a more gentle touch,
a more liquid response,
rather that one flavored with mission, with martyrdom,
or tinged with high ideals of
global change or political statements?

Because that? 

That will take a strength,
a will,
a million times stronger than climbing onto a cross
or the wearing ochre cloth
or memorizing political rhetoric—
living the full life God has granted you
is much harder, my friend,
than following any time-muddied path
because it wants all of you.

Thy Will be Done but
without any filters or props
and when you are through,
can you nurse the living energy you must pass on
with your very crumbling bones set as paving stones,
and let that be


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