Sunday, August 30, 2020
Sunday, August 23, 2020
The book, "Are You Somebody?" is a memoir by the late Irish journalist Nuala O'Faolain, a wild and daring writer about Irish culture, feminism, and the movement in Ireland from narrow poverty to cultural openness that she witnessed during her lifetime.
She writes about a breakdown she had just before turning 40, after the deaths of both her parents and before she became sober. (She, like her parents, and most of her friends and partners, was an alcoholic.)
Here is her recollection of those last days before sobriety, which echo the feeling many of us have had during these oppressive days of life during the pandemics, now 5 months in.
"An aspect of being vulnerable is that you are very open. I used to lie on the bed and look at the sky as it very, very slowly got dark on summer evenings. There was a kind of perfection of melancholy. On Sunday mornings, or on Bank Holiday weekends, I had absolutely nothing to do but feel the quiet. In a way, I was with my self very fully. Afterwards, I used to miss the feeling of being held within pure, empty space."
Maybe you have found that the enforced solitude has been a strange kind of gift, helping you find your way to something beyond the identity with a self that is active and productive and ignorant of suffering. This is the formula for Zen practice, too. Sit still, feel everything, as far as you can bear it, and see what happens. Perhaps you, too, will feel held within the pure, empty space of this wondrous life.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Sunday, August 9, 2020
Darkness Is Asking To Be Loved
By now we have lost the tiny sense of peace we created for ourselves. Our composure is an idea long gone, reflected in the grinding of our teeth and locked jaws.
If you are still holding up trying to meditate, I invite you to fall down. Fall down on the earth. Come down here and smell the sweat of terror on your skin, overpowering the scent of agarwood. Come down on all fours and greet the darkness that reeks of death, reaches out its desperate hand, and asks to be loved as much as we love the light it gives.
Come down here on this earth and breathe for those gasping for air. Hear each scream as a bell that never stops ringing. Bury your face in the mud of this intimate place, in this shared disease and tragedy.
If you have nothing to say, now is the time for the deeper silence that does not apologize or seek something kind to say. And yet the deeper silence is not quiet. It whispers in the dark and wakes you from the nightmare.
Come down here and be still on the earth. Let loose shame, rage, guilt , grief, pain, and make a river of it.
Come down here. Catch the love poems hidden in the shouting, watch the unfolding of the seasons from the ground, look up at the sky. And when it hurts from being down here so long, roll over and see what you couldn't see from the other side.
Breathe out loud. No particular posture needed.
Fall down onto the earth. Fall off your soft cushions. Come down here. Come down here, where the only lullaby tonight will be the sound of your heart drumming the songs you were born with.