Entering the Shrine
It was a tough week
not just for me
but seemed like it was tough for everyone.
Sid 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 Sid said
You need to enter the shrine of the park bench and
I need to enter the shrine of the grouchy relationship.
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
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.