Entering the Shrine

By on Mar 26, 2014 in callings, Poems | 0 comments

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Entering the Shrine




It was a tough week

not just for me

but seemed like it was tough for everyone.

S said she was deep in the thick of it

with her relationship. I said, I’m deep in the

thick of it and I’m not in a relationship.

It’s bad, really bad.

Then she pulled out a koan her teacher

had given her that week. It spoke of being

caught in a rain storm and finding a shelter

for oneself, a shelter

which for the sake of this discussion

could also be a shrine.

Who is the Self?

What is the Shrine?

The nature of koans.

I had to admit I didn’t get it.

I said, you gotta help me out here.

I said, I went to the movies and I cried.

I went to the library and I cried.

I cried driving home from the library.

I cried when I got home.

Everywhere I went this truth:

that I want to write poetry

and read poetry, eat poetry,

peddle poetry, sleep with poetry.

If this is God speaking to me

then God has asked me

to be so vulnerable, wants me to be all exposed,

and publicly, too and just the thought of it is

making me ill. Exultant and heartsick at the same time.

Like running to and away from love.

And at risk for homelessness, too,

cause I believe in miracles but I haven’t met

that many rich poets and S said


You need to enter the shrine of the park bench and

I need to enter the shrine of the grouchy relationship.

descanso gardens 3-14 114




And so it goes.

You enter the place you are most afraid to enter.

You enter the shrine of your vulnerability and

the shrine of your own beauty

(surrounded by frothy white

cherry blossoms and snow beginning to melt)

and the shrine of your mortality

(protected by gargoyles with ruby eyes, fire opal eyes)

and the shrine of your hunger for things not of this world,

for a deepening


the shrine of your fear that there may be no one else who gets this and

the shrine of your utter aloneness

(in Japan, three irises arranged

skillfully in a simple vase

on a simple table

next to three smooth black stones

at the door)

and the shrine of your own hands

making something true

making something beautiful

that endures

and the shrine of all your dashed hopes,

the dreams which may never come true and

the shrine of your earnestness and

the shrine of all your love that got squandered

because the hands and hearts of others remained closed.

The shrine of perpetual forgiveness.

The shrine of waiting.

The shrine of arriving.

Again and again.




The shrine of your refusal.

of your resistance

and your denial.

The shrine of your addictions

(obvious and subtle).

The shrine of all things out of your control.

(it’s all out of your control.)

The shrine of your acceptance.

The shrine of your self embrace.

The shrine of your cool light.

The shrine of your genuine warmth

as a pink in your cheeks.

The shrine of something new arriving for you.

The shrine of your unexpected good.

The shrine of your spontaneous healing.

The shrine of laughter, joy and good food.

The shrine of your near heartache

when the thing you are called to do

is both the thing you want the most

and the thing you want the least.


And you do it anyway.


The shrine of your right life

entered through the door

of your disbelief.





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