This poem by William Stafford speaks of a thread, I feel it also speaks to the times.
“You don’t ever let go of the thread.“
THE WAY IT IS by William Stafford
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you can do to stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.
Hello darkness my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains within the sound of silence.
Sound of Silence Simon and Garfunkel
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
In this year of a thousand months a silence has settled, palpable, like silk against bare skin.
One by one freedoms slip away in an unintentional game of musical chairs until we find ourselves alone, gazing into the Great Mystery.
Fooled into thinking this was unexpected we see plans for this journey seeded long ago with every “yes” carelessly spoken.
Each moment becomes a new invitation, moving deeper like a lover searching for that place on your lip meant only for others.
Eyes closed, surrender drifts like wafting smoke to linger over new terrain, unsure of where to settle.
Shadows that once held fear dissipate with every wind gust, free now to ride this undulating movement…
The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give Bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.
– Derek Walcott
…..As I put the key into the lock and opened the door to ‘the loft’ on this distant island that feels so very far from home, this poem came to mind. It is a piece that has haunted me for a few years perhaps because I don’t want the message to be true.
There is no ‘magical other’ waiting to save us from ourselves or from the circling storm of uncertainty that surrounds us.
There is a welcome shedding of expectation that comes from the words, a sigh of relief that the only goal is to “give back your heart to itself” and “peel your own image from the mirror.” Those things in themselves appear to be insurmountable right now but when compared with continuing this exhausting upstream swim, the image of simply floating with the current back to my “own door” is indeed a feeling of “elation.”
The latch is well worn, many have opened it and returned …..
“You are being called, we are all being called. We stumbled upon the Hero’s Journey and now there is no turning back. We know too much, overcame too many trials and received initiation into the Great Mystery, the river will not release us without a struggle. We asked to be conscious, we cannot become unconscious…it is too late for that. We are reluctant heroes.
TheEmpty Handed Offering
What does an Empty Handed Offering consist of?
I am not sure, but my gut tells me it looks something like the walking forward of this photograph. No idea what it actually is, or if it even exists. I hope to attempt an answer over the next eight months. A series of synchronicities has allowed me access to a small loft over the winter that is located on a remote island a few ferry rides away.
I have taken to calling it “A Room of One’s Own”. Full disclosure, I have not read in its entirety “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf but now have a copy in hand and will finish it before the first departure of my solo journey. Books, art supplies, camera and hopes for inspiration will travel with me as I move back and forth every few weeks from ‘home’ to ‘room’ with the question of the “Empty Handed Offering”.
I was born on the Winter Solstice, each year there is comfort in knowing that the days become longer, the light returns slowly from that day forward. This year I enter another decade of life, more decades are now behind than in front.
This opportunity is the perfect gift, a room of one’s own and a question that can only be answered walking forward with hands and heart open… into the ‘Great Mystery’
” In a world where everything is ridiculous nothing can be ridiculed. You cannot unmask a mask.” G.K. Chesterton
A DAY IN A LIFE
And then there is this……travelling back from town my eye caught the blur of a motorcycle coming up on the left. I asked my passenger to attempt to catch the image as it passed, here is the result. Clown? Skeleton?
He was social distancing and wearing a mask, following all the guidelines. Nothing to see here. The reaction of the three occupants of the car ranged from laughter to horror and affected us individually as a piece of impromptu performance art.
Later, walking in the wind and rain on a deserted beach my thoughts strayed to the masks we all wear. Recently I attended what was billed as a Public Information Meeting for a controversial development project. It was hardly ‘public’, tickets obtained online, twelve people to a sitting, masks mandatory and cut off for tickets five days before the ‘event’. Covid used as a mask to prevent an actual public event. The ‘public’ attendees were masked the presenters were not, but we were all masked in one way or another.
Speaking during the question period, my words muffled through the mask, I felt a strange comfort with only my eyes revealed and facial expressions hidden. The anonymity and calmness that it provided was in stark contrast to the verbal attacks that came my way. I realized that even if we had not been physically masked our daily mask(s) would have been our armor.
“You cannot unmask a mask“
We live in strange, tragic and interesting times, clowns on motorcycles, clowns in power……. where the majority of us put on our physical masks and wait for the opportunity to be able to remove them and breathe deeply again. Finding it harder to ‘breathe’ to find our personal authenticity to find that place where we can see ourselves and others naked, maskless and all vulnerably human clinging to the illusion of Control.
The Sweeper. Banksy
If you want to say something and have people listen you have to wear a mask. If you want to be honestyou have to live a lie.