This I believe, that prayer means presence, a simple presence beyond words; we need only to tap into what Emerson calls “undersong,” the music flowing beneath all of us, always. No words, just a flow of melody and harmony braiding itself into our souls that gives us a spaciousness and quiet that we then can share with others. Hold a hand and breathe together, that is all. No words. Just presence.
I asked my class today if they knew why Monday was a holiday, and not one of them could tell me. There is something deeply amiss. This man changed the history of our nation in a profound way – freedom for all – ideologically, if not in practice. Let’s honor him today, born February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The maker of a sentence…launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him (or her) with something of wild, creative delight.” As we flip into the new year, 2015, the world rocks with Chaos and old Night; into this Night words flare into fireworks of light, sizzling into the blackest of black, bringing hope. “I have a dream…”
Dylan Thomas writes that poetry is , “… the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an over-clothed blindness to a naked vision.” Good poetry tells a story, leading us out of the the many weeds of distraction into meadows of space in which we can finally see. It crystallizes the unspoken, the undefinable, the mystery, so that we can stand in awe of aliveness. We can deeply appreciate just being here, now as we walk through eternity. Writing this clearly is rare. Writing into these thin places is elusive. But, we must try.
John Muir writes, “I kept my lofty perch for hours, frequently closing my eyes to enjoy the music by itself, or to feast quietly on the delicious fragrance that was streaming past.” As he rode out a storm high up in a fir tree, he waxed poetic about the wind that roared around him. Wind, the unseen bringer of scent, the invisible energy that powers swaying tree branches. “Smooth, deep currents, cascades, falls, and swirling eddies, sing around every tree and leaf ….”
So, too, Wind as Spirit swirls around every person and soul. Ruach. The breath of God blows through, in, and around us all the time. We sway with the Spirit’s movement. Like Muir, we are up in that tree during storms experiencing the fullness, the magic of the Wind. When we then climb down, we are changed. “We travel the milky way together, trees and men; but it never occurred to me until this storm-day, while swinging in the wind, that trees are travelers, in the ordinary sense. … our own little journeys, away and back again, are only little more than tree-wavings.”
Wave on and love those trees!
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near him.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
And who doesn’t have a dragon living within, coiled up snoring, just waiting for an opportunity to awaken and breathe fire, singeing life and torching hopes? The age-old question – how do we tame him (mines male) without destroying his ability to grant energy? So, acknowledge your dragon and do not leave him out of your calculations for he DOES live nearby!
In the words of E.B. White, “Be obscure, clearly.” This call encompasses the underbelly of everyday where great depth is found in obscure places filled with gray, places where black and white simply do not exist. To cast light on the obscure draws meaning up from this underbelly, from Emerson’s undersong. E.B. and Ralph are talking about the same place. So, go out and be obscure, clearly.
The theologian, Heather Murray Elkins, coined the phrase “to altar time.” If we “altar time” and allow our moments to become more intentional, to become more holy, our awareness of blessings expands, and we hear Emerson’s “undersong” flowing beneath us all, connecting, enlivening.
“Poetry is the language of indirection.” Robert Frost
In Japan, the language of indirection would be classified as ‘tatemai,‘ the around-the-bush method of communicating. In other words, read beneath the words. What is NOT being said. Feel the connection in the holes. Dive into subtle.
I think of my blood red beta fish named Adam Blue. If you look carefully, beneath his scales lies brilliant blue.
Thank you, Mr. Frost.
To paraphrase a monk: Solitude allows for the deepening of the present. Amen, Brother Thomas Merton, but to deepen the present one must be present. So often I find my mind wandering away from ‘here’ and ‘now’ to fret or plan or just simply swing from branch to branch. I simply am not present. Natalie Goldberg calls this “monkey mind.” Oh, to center and deepen the present. Not today, me thinks.