Thursday, August 17, 2006

Traveling together over familiar paths

So much of our lives joins with other lives--lived eons ago and to be lived in the far-off future. The themes and stories that travel with us are paths that have been traveled by others before (an idea Jung really brings home to me). We connect through story--each of us lives out this sacred, symbolic, and literal quest in the experiences of our lives, our thoughts, actions, decisions, avoidances, circumstances, tradegies, achievements, illnesses, joys, and creations. We started somewhere and we are headed somewhere. We are currently exist--and continue to move toward--somewhere in time, somewhere in space, and most importantly to me, somewhere in conscious self-understanding and loving connection with all living beings.

This poem by Robert Bly really weaves together some of the familiar paths we walk, perhaps one by one, perhaps together. When I read this, I see that the ideas we use to categorize and separate--dividing life into generations of past, present, and future; separating mythological and historical lives as though they had different levels of value; or holding reverence for expressions of nature but not so much for human expression (or perhaps the other way around) are arbitrary and unreal. It's all story. You live it. I live it. We connect there. And that's where the healing, regenerating, and forward-moving power is found.

It must be that my early friendship with defeat
Has given me affection for the month of August.
The potato fields belong to early night.

So many times as a boy I sat in the dirt
Among dry cornstalks that gave assurances
Every hour that Francis has his ear to the night.

Columbus's letters tell us that we will receive
The gifts that mariners all receive at the end—
Memories of gold and a grave in the sand.

The shadow of a friend's hand gives us
Promises similar to those we received from
The light under the door as our mother came near.

Each of us is a Jacob weeping for Joseph.
We are the sparrow that flies through the warrior's
Hall and back out into the falling snow.

I don't know why these images should please me
So much; an angel said: "In the last moment before night
Brahms will show you how loyal the notes are.

[Source: From the book, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy, by way of Writer's Almanac.]


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