i'm sitting by the fire with Jude, both companionably typing on our laptops. listening to kristin hersh's beautiful confession of an album, Hips and Makers.
can't think of a better album to be listening to right now...
You can dander on over to jude's blog to see what we got up to last night. i'll be reflecting on that in the next day or two but, having just come back from ikon gathering ::Miracle:: at the black box, i'm gonna post what i wrote and read tonight...
i'm tired in the aftermath. it was an emotional evening.
i head to Arizona in about 10 days on behalf of ikon to explore and create with the Aldea community in Tuscon. so tonight we had an art sale to help cover the cost of getting us there. which given ikon's tiny purse was a huge expense. when we do what we do at greenbelt or folks read pete's book there is often an assumption we have something that might be called a budget. what we have is a threadbare shoestring. we get by on participants not claiming expenses. we struggle talking about money. we never ask for money. at least not for ourselves. so tonight, we asked, and miraculously some might say, the crowd raised more than enough to pay for the flights for me and pete and jonny and in return went home with jonny and jayne's paintings and photographs.
but that was only part of the emotion... the gathering was pretty amazing. it fell together and opened something up. every contribution had a different perspective to offer and left folks with a lot to think about...
needless to say, reading the following was a test of my mettle. but i guess this is what i do. now only if i could work out how to make it pay the bills. mining for the authentic is not lucrative done this way. but it was cathartic. and there's a value in my life to this kind of creation that i can't count... and it led to some meaning-filled connection with people i wish i could look in the eye more often... whom i wish i could do life better with, be closer to... let my walls down with more than i do...
this'll be a little rough as i wrote it to read aloud and so this is not a polished text for the page. there are little changes i made as i read, shifts in pace and stresses not seen here... so you'll have to forgive it's flaws. anyways, here it is.
this, for my sins, is what i do.
Within every life is a story.
This is a slice of mine....
I cannot tell you I believe in God.
Certainly not one who intervenes.
I prayed. I prayed. For strength. and courage. and will. For love.
And there was nothing.
And the more I prayed the more the things I prayed for died.
Until one day, Love died. And with it, god died. And I died with it.
I do not mean simply romantic love. Or familial love. Or platonic love. For sure, I lost those things. Not for the first time.
But Love itself.
I sent a message. It said,
“I have never felt less like living”.
I felt the ground beneath me disappear. every last vestige of hope I had evaporated... the final breaking. And with love and god, I died. Or at least, I was no longer living. I remember sending out a message and then the ground gave way beneath me and then the lights went out. And whatever I had been up to that point, when faced with the final unthinkable abandonment in a long list buried within me, whatever I had been was now nothing but a gaping wound emitting a silent scream without ceasing. And there I stayed. In that space I met with the eternal abandonment. an absence so profound I have no words to tell of it. A void swallowing me whole.
I survived this moment not because I wanted to live. Had I tried to physically end my life that would have been an affirmation that I existed.
Was “not dead”. Would have had to have made a choice. And I couldn’t even do that. In the void that sucked me down I let go. Gave myself up. And let the void to take me. I entered a place where there was no hope, no light, no time, no feeling other than grief. Raw ragged sharp mutilating grief like a hurricane flattening a house. A castle. A fortress. Every defense ripped to pieces.
The kind of terrible moment when lips move to whisper, “it is finished”.
I realise now I was a steel fortress. And to heal I perhaps had to become a gaping wound. And then to being a broken bowl. Some days I was fragments. Fragments shattered so hard they could no longer feel or see each other. Could not remember how they had ever held together. and I confess, I retreated again into a steel fortress. But there are gaps in the walls now. I am learning how to dismantle them piece by piece. This is what living is. Unlocking oneself. Daily acts of the risk we call trust. Replacing rivets and bolts and sheet metal with twig and twine and feathers. Learning how to bend so we won’t break.
You might think that ‘the event’ is the moment of breaking, the moment in which the walls and floor of my fortress collapsed into nothing.
But that’s not it. My life stopped. And the past and future were utterly changed forever. But, That’s not the event.
The event is the unseen moment. The i-know-not-what that pulled so that I came back. Saw myself from above lying on an unfamiliar bed. Heard the sound of a beloved’s tears and fears down a phone line that I would take my life for real this time. Surprised. to find I was still breathing. The event was the unknown invisible happening that drew me back into the world. I do not know where it came from. Do not know it’s source. But something happened somewhere in some fragile instant that I do not remember. Cannot name. but I cannot tell you I believe it came from me.
within this story there is a something that is more like a happening. An atom. A seed. A spark. An essence. An event. The push of a match to strike it.
I cannot name it. It is perhaps the something beyond naming. It is so small that it is far easier to believe it is not there at all. It is no thing.
But that no thing, that which is best known by it’s absence, it’s invisibility. Is this what gives rise to god, to hope, to love, to life itself?
It is here. Buried beneath every moment is an eternal moment. A now that does not cease. Hidden. Secret. Always out of reach.
I think I shall be digging forever in my story. Beneath my being there is a something.
I don’t know where it comes from. It is the jewel I cannot find. But I feel it. That something happened.
It is the gravitational pull that draws the hand out to touch the hem of a cloak.
It is the pull that draws the figure in death shrouds from the tomb.
It is the pull that draws my breath in and out in and out.
It is the nothing that happens before the hand lays on the mud upon the eyes.
Before the spit falls on the tongue.
Before the mouth says, rise and walk.
It is the pull that is forever drawing us back to this place.
I cannot tell you I believe in God.
But I believe in a something that is more like nothing. So fragile. So weak. So ungraspable. So unspeakable.
It was there in my mother’s womb.
It was there in her last breath.
It was there in the last goodbye when the back door closed one last time and I found myself alone.
It was in there in the valley of death when I gave up living.
When god no longer existed. When love no longer existed. When I no longer existed.
It was there when I found myself in that strange bed.
And if it can ever be found it is in a place beneath words.
There are no words I know to describe the place I entered, gave myself up to. I have been stumbling forward ever since. A colt on fragile limbs unsteady in the life that comes after. I am still here. From out of the darkness I am stepping forward.
And there are no words to describe the event.
But It is something like miracle.
It has to be.
Because I am standing here.
It pulls me as I stand in this space.
To fragment the fortress I carry within me to deal with loss upon loss upon loss. To hope...
Perhaps that’s what miracle is... It is beyond me. It is beyond everything we can name.
i read from the exact same spot that i had watched Mark Koselek a week ago.
just before we opened the doors i climbed onto the stage and put my lips to the boards.
sacred ground. sacred space.