horizontal God

Posted by on Jan 28, 2011 in Art, Buddhism, Mary Oliver, Poetry | No Comments

I lay next to God all day yesterday. Her name is actually Kyrie. Which does mean God, in Greek. She is my younger daughter. So, ok, yeah, not that God. Still, she is as much a spark of the divine fire, as much an illimitable moment of immanent God, as the rest of us.

She was sick. Very feverish. And already, at just twelve years old, she told me the night before, “I’m fine, really. I can go to school. I need to. I’ve got two tests!” Is all of this drive, this hustle, this pressure in our lives immanent in us as well?

I have work to do. I have two deadlines. I even have a job with the local newspaper now. I could have just tucked her in and worked nearby. I could have checked on her often, brought her soup and magazines. But, no. I do my work almost every day. I hardly ever just lie down next to my own children any more. And what work will I remember when I die? And, fascinating, that they are called “dead”-lines, no?

A specialist in Eastern medicine once observed, “In the West, sickness is your form of meditation. It’s the only time you all stop.” Doesn’t that just hit you right between the eyes? And, yes, that is right about where your third eye is, by the way. So, I closed all three eyes. I just curled up next to her, a soft-bellied animal next to a more slight and taut-bellied one. Didn’t talk much. Didn’t answer any calls. No electronic devices of any kind were accessed. And, of course I got behind. And, of course that ultimately doesn’t matter much at all.

We just rested. Just drifted in and out of sleep, a hug there, a touch of one hand to another back there. Meditation, minus the sitting up and the potential for attitude. Thoughts drifted in and out, but never stuck, much less caused any effect. They were witnessed, not experienced. Witnessed by whom, by what? By that same spark of the divine fire, that calm fundamental warmth we all have in the center of our being, but too easily lose touch with. Too many thoughts get in the way.

Only one thought stays with me now, after a day of not thinking thoughts at all. As I wrote “soft-bellied animal” above, I recalled the poem that came to me, yesterday and now, giving me inspiration and honoring that calm. Mary Oliver, in Wild Geese, wrote:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

One moment came to me as well. In that same bed, twelve years ago, when my daughter was a tiny soft-bellied animal, she lay sick upon the inner flesh of my upper arm. Just a little fever. Such a little soul. All I recall is a profound stillness and the sensation of heat. And a sense of absolute connectedness. Just now I recalled that back then I drew a picture of that very moment. Even then, I somehow knew I had touched the heart of it all just by getting horizontal and completely letting go. Somehow I also knew that to remember it I would have to honor it, make a mark at that very spot, in that very moment. Welcome to the impetus to make things sacred.

I just found the art. I had inscribed it with,

Head Heart Hands  in the night February 24 ’99  You a little sick CuddlesCuddles

Where it all begins

We can begin again, and again and again, at any time. Actually, we do begin, again and again, all the time. I hope to remember that when I am standing up, as well as I can when I lie down, again and again and each and every moment, which of course is where it all begins.