My heart is a grey well

My heart is a grey well, a swirling mist, a wind of sighs.

It says to me, finally, in a voice so small, 

A voice I had almost forgotten,

“Ah, finally now, you will listen to me.”

Tears roll from my eyes at this unexpected reunion

Of self and Self, of spirit and Spirit.

This is a second childhood of my heart 

The ground of my life has been broken 

And look, within, a small green shoot of bamboo

Growing towards the light.  

Old ways won’t tend this new life

Old paths will not lead me onward

Now is time to be patient and trust

In the still small voice inside my soul

That says you are safe, you are home.  

Her true name

She had her secret place at the top of the stairs, through a small door. It wasn’t as low as a teahouse door, but still enough to make you crawl. It was meant to keep out adults – those inflexible in body or mind (often one causes the other).

There was no latch on the door. That would invite trouble. Someone might see it as a treasure house and feel a need to break in. Again and again and again she learned the lesson. Don’t advertise, but don’t hide either. Those who had eyes to see and ears to hear with know beyond knowing and would be welcome.

Why did she feel the need for this secret place? Why could she not be herself, fully who God made her to be, in front of anyone else?

Certainly not the public. They weren’t worthy. They flocked to her like moths when she shone her light, drowning her out. They assumed she had special powers and brought all their illnesses to her to heal – confessing all their sins. This is why they complained to her all the time. This is why they only spoke negatively, telling her about their ungrateful relatives, new illness, or even how hot / cold / rainy or dry it is. They were bringing their illnesses to her for healing, without even knowing they were sick.Trouble was that they didn’t want the kind of healing she offered – the healing that she used for herself, straight from the True Healer. They wanted a quick fix and most importantly for someone else to do it.

This true healing was closer to having to walk to the rain forest, find a young tree, water and protect it from predators and climb it and harvest the leaves, then then befriend a herbalist and learn exactly how to make the tea. 

And then drink it every day.

It was that much work. 

Quick fixes, especially gotten from others, were how they were sick – why they were sick. The DIY life wasn’t what they wanted, but what they needed.

She got drained by them – and worse, they came to see her as the healer, and not the One God, the true Teacher and Master. Maybe this is why Moses lived in a tent outside the camp. Maybe that is why Jesus went away to deserted places to pray. They had to. Otherwise they were empty, drained dry. No refills, no replacement batteries. One and done, over and out.

But that way led to madness. Not just burnout, but burned up, to a crisp, gone. An empty house, useful to no one, especially God. So she made an appointment with herself for her sanctuary, her quiet space, away from everyone so she could be with her Beloved, the One who knew her by her true name.

Written 8/9/18


Wednesday couldn’t come soon enough. That was the day of the apocalypse, the total collapse, the change above all changes. Liz knew there was no preparing for it, so she went on doing what she always did. No use freaking out. It was a final exam, not a pop quiz.

They all knew it was coming. Only those who took it seriously and remembered would make it through. The rest? Those who acted like there were no consequences, only reward and no punishment? May God have mercy on their souls.

Of course, she didn’t really know what side she’d sort out on. Nobody did until the tally was closed. Plenty who thought they were “in” would be in for a huge surprise. But not her. She was OK either way. She just wanted to get it over, even if it meant she was thrown into the fire instead of the storehouse. It meant no more wondering. No more waiting. It was kind of like going to the doctor for your diagnosis – were you healthy, or was it cancer? After a certain point it didn’t matter. It was the waiting that was the hardest, the not knowing, the between state. Better to be hot or cold, but not lukewarm.

Lukewarm was the indifference, the inattention, the plague of the world. Believe or don’t believe – but only after due consideration. Not the middle, the apathetic middle, where people unthinkingly land. Not making a choice is a choice, after all. Neglect your garden and no vegetables will grow. Better to have bare ground with nothing sown than ground that is ignored and untended – filled with weeds and half shriveled produce, half eaten by insects grateful for the feast. No feast for those who pledge and don’t act. Better to say you won’t and do, than say you will and don’t.

But tomorrow was the day. Tomorrow and no other. August 8, 2018. She knew. It wasn’t numerology. Perhaps it was something like knowing a storm was coming. She could feel it in her bones. Nature spoke to nature. In this case, Spirit spoke to spirit. The breath of God was coming to sweep over the world, as it had in the beginning. Then it had passed over the waters and made a place for the land to rise. Tomorrow it will pass over that land and bring the waters back. But this time it will be the water of the Word, a baptism and cleansing of body and soul.

Not everyone would survive this. It would be a re-birth, and awakening unlike that which anyone could describe, for when they were born they had no previous words. This experience would be beyond words too – how would you explain something that hasn’t happened before but you have waited for all of your life, and before?

Maybe it was a bit like a hard wipe and reinstall of a computer. Or a remodel job that involves a complete gutting. Nothing would be the same except the outside.

Written 8/7/18


She had a choice. Step across the threshold and into the past, or stay where she was. The idea of moving day by excruciating day into the unknown future filled her with a nameless dread. Was it anxiety, or ennui? The world was at a crossroads. One path led to hope. The other – it didn’t bear considering. Chaos was in the past – civil war too, if she wanted to be honest. They’d all seen the news reports of violence in the streets in other countries – foreign countries, less civilized countries. War here was tidy. People marched. They protested with signs. They never killed, for god’s sake.

But she could see that was about to end. Peace was soon to be a distant memory. There was nothing that could be done to avoid the upcoming bloodshed – citizen again citizen -divided along party lines.

For decades people had divided themselves – what football team they liked, whether they were dog or cat people. But in recent years there were more divisions – meat eater or vegetarian, liberal or conservative, religious or spiritual. Sometimes the lines blurred and people were in more than one group. Never did they stop to see their dividing themselves was dividing the nation. They were split asunder, falling apart, chaos. They had done it to themselves and it had gone on so long there was only war as the cure.

Sophia knew she could not be a part of it, but she also knew she could not move to another country. That would be running away, quitting, and she wasn’t a quitter. Her family had endured much change, mindfully, wisely. They’d kept records of it, all of the revolutions they lived through, the overthrows they’d observed. All present, yet not involved. Observers only, not participants. But how? They never told her. It was a family secret, so secret that they never spoke about it – not even to each other. It was too important. People might talk and then it would all be over.

Then they wouldn’t be able to help anyone. They were time weavers, but not all of them. The trait was genetic, but not every family member had it. So they never spoke about it. If the trait awakened in you, you knew what to do, just like how baby birds knew how to fly. Best not to put the idea of flying into any other creature’s head – one that didn’t have wings. Nothing good would come of that.

Sophia’s parents had hoped she’d be a weaver, but the signs didn’t appear with puberty as it had with them. Or if they had, she’d hidden them well.

Her parents were distant cousins. Many generations back a matriarch had realized they needed to shape the family tree to keep the trait strong. That was her special gift of weaving – to see the soft silver-blue line of power weave in and out of the bloodline. It would thicken here to a rope, thin here to a thread. Too thin and it would break forever and all would be lost. 

In her family you still asked the parents for permission to marry, but it was for the bloodline. The suitor might be wealthy and kind and of the right faith tradition, but if s/he didn’t have the gift, the marriage would only be allowed if the mate’s gift was strong enough to make up for the loss.It was a bit like a thoroughbred breeding program, but the stakes were a lot higher in this race.

Sophie had finally admitted to herself who and what she was in her 40s. After years of thinking she was mentally ill, she finally saw her vision as a gift and not a curse. She wasn’t crazy. She was simply in the wrong time, with the wrong people.

Prophets look crazy to those who refuse to see – those who are convinced of their own infallibility. She’d been called insane by a priest once. She left that church rather than be silent. His sin was before him now. She’d acted as she should, informing him of his danger. The path is narrow and the dangers are sure if you step from it. He’d assumed his own path and told himself he was right purely based on his title. “Reverend” was not revered, however. The title was a placeholder only – not a guarantee of holiness, or even of accuracy. A seminary degree didn’t ensure life without sin. In many ways it made it harder, because they knew better, or were supposed to.

Her family never entered the ministry, not in any ordained fashion, that was. It wouldn’t do to get paid for a gift they had freely received. They might have side work – being a counselor or social worker, a nutritionist or chiropractor. They helped people get back in the groove, get re-woven into the tapestry of life. 

But this doorway. Before she was able to See, it was just an entrance to the side patio. Now it was misty with time. She could see ‘now’ and ‘then’ simultaneously and saw the threads that were unraveled or cut short. She knew down in her bones which ones needed tending. Not all needed work. Some threads needed to be cut. Some lines needed to cross. But some were a mess and would lead to lines ending too soon.

How were the pyramids built? And Stonehenge? That information was part of the lost threads. It was best not to have too much continuity. People tended to get upset when they realized how insignificant they were. They like to think that history started with them. This is why each generation had to do its own genealogy. What did people why did people only know their living ancestors? Why was nothing written down?

Sophia knew only that it was time to cross the threshold and walk into time. Whether forwards or backwards made no difference. All that mattered now was that she remove herself from the sacred tapestry just long enough for a rest. She had a lot of work set before her with new timelines to weave in. She would need all her energy for the upcoming pattern.

Written early August 2018

Just time enough

Tomorrow and forever and yesterday. He opened the door to discover it was always just time enough – a beginning or ending but never the middle of anything. Between was not an option with this door. Endings were beginnings were endings, after all – a change of state, of place, of status. Water was always H2O even if it was solid or gas. And that is what he was – the state beyond those states, never arriving or leaving but just there. It had taken years to get to this point. He’d been here and forgotten once, but re-membered and re-collected. Now he knew that he had to do the work he did before just to stay.

This was part of the work. This door was his meeting, his group, his first-name-basis therapy that kept him from slipping back into old ways. He opened the door at least once a day, more if necessary but never nothing. Always once, at least. He opened it to see the chaos of all those who saw time as sequential, as past or future, and not as inconsequential, as meaningless as cataloging air. He called to them to escape through the narrow door, volunteered to sponsor them in this private club. No takers yet. They assumed the membership dues were beyond their means.

Separate but equal?

They had separate apartments, but the same house. Sometimes they would visit each other – a sleepover if you will. Never would they swap, and certainly not live together. That was unheard of.

They had tried that, like every other married couple. A bed was meant to be shared, even if the relationship was celibate. That alone was a shocker – that married people wouldn’t have sex. But why was it assumed they would? Was marriage solely for sex – to legitimize offspring, to stop straying? Sex without marriage was seen as immoral if not illegal. It broke apart society as well as homes. A committed couple, legally bound, was a guarantee of a partner for when the urges came.

But what if they didn’t? What if they too had been conquered in the push for sobriety? Mindfulness, distance, observance of physical “needs” that weren’t – they were simply wants or electrochemical responses to an excess or deficit of minerals and vitamins in the body. Perhaps one day scientists would learn the secret so obvious it had been ignored. Perhaps one day they would prevent addiction by getting people to regulate their bodies and minds.

She knew this, but he didn’t. He had been told, but it was by her and what husband actually listens to his wife? So many felt challenged when their wives were better – better at cooking and child-rearing was acceptable. But see what happens if she is more intelligent or makes more money. His male ego is challenged and he feels he has to put her in her place. Either with words or fists, it doesn’t matter. Only when they learned to tame their internal demon did they become human.

It wasn’t about suppressing it or eliminating it. Those actions were impossible and were the root of some particularly nasty neuroses. Men, like women, had to learn how to live with the shadow side and let it work for them. It could help to alert the person when boundaries were being pushed, if not violated.

But he hadn’t done any of that work. He was haunted by the voices of his dead parents. They spoke words of chastisement to him, telling him he was stupid or lazy or worthless. They spoke through his voice now, in words of anger directed at himself, by himself.

She had married him – not his parents. Her vows were to him, not them. She never promised in writing or verbally to take care of them and she certainly didn’t want to live with them even their ghosts. The house was small enough as is. Even if it was just the two of them physically there, the ghosts of his parents were an unwelcome presence. She wouldn’t share space with them, and told him so.

He wouldn’t evict his parents from his head, though. Perhaps it was a sense of loyalty to them – to kick them out of his head was not to hear from them at all. Bad voices were better than none. He felt it was a betrayal to stand up to them. That is what they had taught him – obey. Don’t question. We are the authorities. They had taught him too well – built a wall around him so high and so strong that he never even thought to break out.

Perhaps that was the mark of an adult – once you finally broke out from the conditioning and the stories that you had grown up with. Once you finally tapped your inner strength and pecked your way out. No escape equals a slow death, a suffocation.

Baby birds didn’t know they had a shell around them – it was all they saw, it was their world. It takes great risk to break free. They have no idea what is behind beyond that shell. All they know is that the pain of remaining where they are is too much to endure.

He, at nearly 50, was still in the shell, still reacting and not acting. Still passive, a life lived defensively, every slight a surprise. Perhaps she could have tolerated this if she’d not gotten sober. Perhaps then she wouldn’t have noticed the glaring holes in his soul. But there was no going back now, so they lived apart. Divorce was not an option. Still married, still in the same house, still sharing time and bank accounts. But not a bed, not even a bedroom.

She had to be alone to recharge from her work, days filled with needy, empty people, people who wanted more than the services provided. They needed companionship, validation, approval. They wanted someone to talk to or at, but not with. They were lonely and empty and hungry and never satisfied and they expected her to fill the holes – not her specifically, but someone, anyone. The clerk at the gas station would do, but it was often too busy there. Her workplace was slower and encouraged tarrying. They didn’t feel they were taking up her time when they trapped her with their tirades.At the end of the day she just didn’t have the energy to endure one more empty soul, one more hungry ghost. Perhaps one day he’d see how he was haunted and he’d start to exorcise them. But until then they lived apart and yet together, sharing a life if not a home.

Swimming lesson

Behind this door was his study group. They had met here every Thursday for a dozen years or more. He’d lost track.

In the beginning he kept a log of every time he went, as a reminder, as a memento. The memory of the past inspired the future. It was a long drive in the morning before work but his schedule allowed for it. Any other usual schedule and he wouldn’t have been able to. He didn’t have enough vacation time to ask off two hours every week, and he didn’t want to call attention to his actions.

Interesting how his culture loudly proclaimed its vices but downplayed its virtues. Smoking, sex, sloth, were publicly praised but sanctity was private. How could people choose the narrow path they didn’t know about it? Misery had to love company, because being righteous was a lonely path.

The door was unassuming, unmarked. If you knew where to look you could find it. The class was mentioned on the website, but far down, nearly hidden. Like the door, you would never happen across it unless you were meant to, or you were told by a member.

Very few people were told. Not for a lack of need. No, many people were drowning in the sea of addiction, but most were not willing to learn to swim. Most who admitted they were sinking expected a rescue – a boat, a life-raft. The only true rescue was to stay in the water and learn how to swim – not against the waves but with them.

The group knew how to swim – each and every one of them. Some simply flipped over and let the waves carry them where they may. Some used the energy to work their body and get stronger. Relax or resist – the goal was the same. Don’t drown. Quit fighting.

They sat in a circle and swam in the sea of time, with scripture as their anchor, yet also their sail. It buoyed them up yet also kept them stable. It was the only thing keeping them alive in the world gone mad with dis-ease.

Stories from the Sea

Alone, adrift, he finally knew. He understood what had happened and why. The forest was destroyed, burned to the ground. And yet – and yet it was still the source of the first house, the house that would lead to healing.

It took him a week to understand. A week at sea by himself, drifting in that small sailboat. How thankful he was that his mother had sent him to boating school all those summers ago. She’d spent many a day sailing with her dad when she was growing up and wanted her son to have the same skills. He appreciated it now.

At night he tied the rudder and slept under the stars And still the visions came – the house, that house, the one he would build, the one that would rebuild his town, and hopefully after that, the world.

He couldn’t see that far. His visions stopped after his mortal life was determined to end. He could reach just so far and then nothing, a grey mist covered his Sight. It was enough. He was content to know his purpose and live into its completion. Any more and he might have gone mad. Just enough for one person and one lifetime was plenty.

But still the visions came and still he couldn’t see how they were to be. He trusted that all would be revealed in time. It always was. Yet he also knew this was the biggest thing he would be called to do and his time was growing short. His parents both died young – albeit due to entirely preventable causes – causes he didn’t participate in – and he was mindful of the value of time. Perhaps he would live longer than they did – but perhaps not. Then again, even at 60 would he be strong enough to build a house? So he knew the time was coming soon for the fruition.

And then he saw it – the boat! It had been made from the very same forest he had sworn to protect! He was close to shore, close enough to swim in. In his joy, he began to hack away at the mast with an ax, delighted that now he knew the next step in his vision, delighted that it was coming into reality. This mast would be used to create the front door to the house. Now it all made sense.

(Inspired by art of the same name by Dan McCarthy)

Stories from the Forest

Evan knew he had to run away from the forest he had protected for so long. He built a tiny home there to keep an eye on it but the times had changed. The forest was on fire. There would be no investigation. Nobody (yet)cared about this forest, this special place, this future birthplace of the healing of his hometown. Nobody (yet) thought of this forest (any forest) as valuable, as necessary. A house burning, now they’d investigate that. That was property. There was the insurance company to appease. But this – this was seen as a wasteland, a wilderness. Because it wasn’t owned by people it was seen as not of value. It didn’t count because it wasn’t counted.

Evan had used this to his advantage to build his home years ago. How long had it been? The seasons had slid into each other one after another, faster and faster, so quickly that it didn’t seem but a blink of an eye and a decade had passed.

Time was like that for everyone, but especially for Evan. The Sight made it so time folded into itself like a Mobius strip, end and beginning the same, one continuous loop. He understood all too well what the Scriptures meant when God said “I AM the Alpha and Omega” but not well enough to explain it to anyone else.

They never noticed when he started living part time in the forest. He was often overlooked, ignored. Perhaps it was because he was odd, a misfit, and eccentric. He wasn’t dangerous, just different. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body. But he’d spent so long suppressing himself that he’d developed an allergic reaction, a reflex if you will, to having to fit himself into everybody else’s mold. It was like his soul was a size 14 and the only shoes he was offered were a size 8. It cramped him to shoehorn himself into their expectations, so he didn’t.

He wasn’t intentionally difficult, but he came off that way. So people avoided him, or overlooked him. At first this was problematic because he’d been taught he had to be sociable – that “no man was an island”. Later on, after innumerable examples of being let down by people he was supposed to trust, he understood. That “role” wasn’t meant for him, an outlier, but for them, the herd. It was meant to keep them safe, but mostly compliant and also. It wouldn’t do to let them roamon their own. They would get lost. And without their true GPS (God Positioning System) they’d never return.

He might never return to his home in the woods now. He couldn’t see how his vision of the House of Death (the treatment center) would come to fruition, but he knew it would. It always did. Now he knew only that he had to escape.

The fire had come up so quickly that he’d not had time to take anything. That was fine with him. A clean break was his kind of way after all.

He’d not stopped until he reached the harbor. The momentum of the adrenaline coursing through him was enough to make him run for several miles – enough to make sure he was well out of harm’s way. And now, with no further land before him, he stopped, breathless, to assay the situation. Roam along the coast? Or take the ship to parts unknown? It was time to have a chat with the harbormaster.

(Inspired by art of the same name by Dan McCarthy)

Stories from the City

When were they coming? They should be here already. But wasn’t this always the trouble with pre-cogs? You saw the future and had to live into its completion until it finally happened.

Evan knew this forest before anyone else did. He knew how it would produce the trees that would be felled and shaved and sliced to make the house. That house. The one where people went to die.

But it wasn’t time yet. The house hadn’t been imagined, much less designed. The community didn’t know they needed it, didn’t know there was a problem to be fixed. Not until the town meetings, where one by one, amid hushed conversations during the breaks, never during the group meetings, people confessed to their secrets.

There was a lot of death in that town, and a lot of it was the same. A lot of overdoses that weren’t talked about, for fear of bringing shame to the family. Too, there were a lot of middle-aged people dying decades before their time due to legal addictions. So much substance-abuse in that little town. They never thought it would come to them, but it did, slowly, trickling in like a dirty fog. It came in from the big towns, the boomtowns, the towns where nobody knew your name.

Lawrenceburg thought it could never happen to them, but Evan knew better. Nothing surprised him because he’d seen it before in his visions. The future passed before his eyes like a dance of ghosts, half there, indistinct and yet somehow certain. He’d had the sight all his life, yet he didn’t know he could see any different from anyone else. Nobody else in his family had the sight – or if they did they didn’t say. It wouldn’t do to get people talking and wondering. Fear of the unusual got people burned way back when. Now it just got them committed. And nobody took you seriously after that.

That wouldn’t do for Evan. The messages he received were too important to be dismissed. So he had to tell, but do it carefully. So he wrote stories. People liked stories. It is why Jesus used parables. Stories got down under the skin and started to change you, make you think and act in new ways. Stories were how you reprogrammed people. Not rules. Not laws. The most unrepentant criminal would break the law just because, to prove he could. Deep down a lot of criminals and bullies never got past the terrible twos. With stories however, that was another kettle of fish. Stories would change a person without them even knowing.

Evan wrote stories about the town, but he changed all the names.  Too close, too much like fact and nobody would listen.  He read them out loud at any gathering he could – county-fairs, book signings, coffee house meetings of poets and upstarts.  He sold his books to people who wanted to read them for themselves, of course, but the real work was in the hearing.  Heard stories slipped past the brain and went right to the heart – or the stomach, depending on the aim.  This is the secret truth of stories which all successful prophets and revolutionaries know. 

Evan had started telling his story a decade ago, when he first saw it play out before his eyes.  He could tell by how it reeled out that he would have to start softening the people of his town immediately.  Some visions could wait, but not this one.  The town would be a husk by then, a ghost town.  Those who weren’t actually dead would be darn near enough, wasting away from cancer or zoned out on benzos or fentanyl.  The walking near-dead – all of them, just biding time until the grave.  Evan had to work long and hard if he wanted to avoid that.

His visions were not set – but simply shadows of things that may be, rather than those that will be.  The certainty of the future lay only in the course of non-intervention. If he did nothing, his vision would play out. No matter how small his action, it would improve the situation.

The house of death that was to be built was oddly named.  Everyone who entered left at the end of their term on their own two feet – not feet first.  What died were their bad habits and old ways.  But in order for this house to be built, he had to keep the forest intact.  Too many forests were being leveled in the name of “progress”.  New subdivisions or grazing land for cattle or acreage for yet another mall that looks like a little town kept appearing while the old-growth forest kept disappearing.  You didn’t need to be a prophet to see where that was headed.  But you did need to be a prophet to steer the community in the direction of its own healing. 

 (Inspired by artwork by Dan McCarthy, of the same name)