Soul

For every living.

What knows, perceives, wills, animates––a body, while not of body. Moving a mind, but not quite a mind or of one. Plato considered a soul of the universe, and others saw it in the celestial bodies. Some confuse it with perceptible motion. Where is it before–– and after, this form and these forms? Before understanding, and after? Indivisible, and yet able to multiply, into greater unity, ever greater being, explaining nothing, with no guarantees.

What the Alchemist Suggested

Inspired by the work of Carl Jung.

Start in the dark. Notice what is moving there, and how. Dance with it. Conversation follows, but you’ve talked enough. The shadows have plenty to say now. Listen. In the silence that follows, consider the abundance of shadow, multiplied for each known and unknown. From this infinite mystery, learn. What follows will make a fool out of you, and then you will be on your way.

Facing the Lion

No show, just a portrait of strength.

Persistence like a river until it’s bled dry, and no temper. Here is no coercion, no brash announcements, no bold statements. Most of what she is saying, facing what others call this beast, is so subtle it sounds like nothing. 

Everything is the opposite of nothing. Something is also the opposite of nothing. A robe but no armor, her hands in the mane, so near the jaw. He leans into her and she holds.

Someone wants to know who is calling the shots, but there are no calls happening here. No shots. Here is a wild creature renowned for ferocity, a feared killer, at rest. She is with him. They are breathing, still.

Keeping Quiet

Protecting space for the still, small voice.

I want to protect this tiny plot of quiet I’ve been keeping, hoping that some seeds might take. The only problem is, it’s Monday. So, things are about to get real loud, real fast. Out there, anyway, which is where I have to be going. Of course, this is just what we do. We leave the quiet here with the cat and whatever’s defrosting on the counter, and we come back in the evening and try to enjoy. 

But I don’t think that’s going to work. I need to know that when I get back, it’s still here, this shaded plot with these seeds still underground. I need to know that it hasn’t been torn up by coyote packs and air traffic, by the alarms and bells and bustlings of the day, these noises and movements which have a way of seeping in, even at a distance––along with the nagging to-dos, and mostly I want to know that it will be okay when I leave it here. I am not going to be able to take any extra time tending it over coffee. There will be no mid-morning feedings, no midday walks, no rocking meditations over midafternoon chores done at an easy pace. I am going to be out there––

There, where there’s no telling what’s waiting for me to leave this quiet alone for two minutes so it can ravage all my tending. 

That is just not going to work. I can’t just leave this quiet here alone all day. It could choke on something it picks up off the floor or eat junk food all day or get a mind to start probing electrical outlets with forks. That won’t do. I am going to swaddle it carefully, wrap it in soft fabric, tight and close against my chest, and I am going to take it with me. If anyone asks, ‘What’s that?’ I’ll just smile and wink and say Shhhhhhhh, as I place a reassuring open palm against the reassuring press of this tiny solid body sleeping into my heartbeat. 

Counting Saints

Commonplace reminders on being.

Golden yarrow, fledgling web, congregations of clover refusing to quit. These dishes again, and the pot left soaking overnight. Pan, too. Basket of laundry, ever renewing, and this list. This ache in my temples to remind me what I took for granted just last week, like the fluttering chest and sore neck. Sleeping cat in the chair, beside a small collection of beach rocks, at least one of which is concrete, gathered how many years ago? By still-dimpled hands, with calm assurance reaching up, saying Here. Hawk on streetlight, coyote in yard, dog panting on rug, legs splayed forward and back, trail of pawprints between the door and where she is now, looking up. This trio of men at the park in boxing gloves and sweatpants and the youngest must be at least sixty-eight. They run in circles, punch pads and one another’s gloves, punch trees and the trees hold still. One among them is the coach and when he’s not cussing a blue streak he’s shouting, C’mon, that don’t matter! Whaddya doin?! No, look! Up, up, up!

For All Times

Considering the movement in these moments.

You’ve been a cane-wielding cartoon old man, white beard down to your knees; a bloody tyrant, horned and masked, coming to ravage every beloved. Then, in the next scene, a healer: white linen, salves, and herbs, sometimes in the costume of a nurse of the first influenza, the first world war. The bard posed you with a scythe, the dark reaper poised, and had his lovers profess refusal to be your fool.

Then you’re a river. We build our settlements near you, travel over washing, reviving, bathing, and blessing one another by your body. Then, when the great storms come, you rinse us away––and yet, when we come to, there we are, still within and among your waters, carrying their currents in our cells. Someone suggests you are an illusion, maybe they meant elusive, but the idea adds much to our sense of the scope and reach of what we touch and then create, our tools one part memory and another part dream, and the last must be need. But for what? Is this nourishment you bring, or is it more like shelter against what we are not ready for––yet?

If you are long like a ribbon or a road, why can’t we know this about you in a moment? There’s no duration in the present, but we’ll measure rest as well as motion, our now both a beginning and an end, and in your holy geography we continue to meet, dancing in the second line with the saints, and we the once and future ancients, spinning the rhythms of your forever reception.