There is a quiet place, a secret place, that is yours for restoration. There is a realness in the stillness. Go there, when you can; when you need to. It's safe. For me, it is the Other Side of the Trees.
A couple of nights ago, my wife and the kids were down in the city. We stopped off at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers. I’ve been to that place countless times, sitting up in the cafe sipping on a cup of mud, reading this or that. At Barnes & Noble, there are murals (for lack of a better word) up on the wall above the cafe. They are images of writers … writers from the past. I always, always, always, take time to stare at those faces. I am inspired by these folks. I find myself considering this thought: “I wonder what it would be like … to be able to write like these guys.”
That woman, there … with the long white dress, the cross sewn into the train … she has my heart, and it will always be that way. Those on both sides of the aisle show a glow, reflecting the beauty of this bride, an elegant one. Her countenance has a fragrance that reminds me of the Don Juan Rose.
She and I both remember, and reflect on from time to time, the trip to the airport, a few days before Christmas of 1994. I had met her in October. We went out a few times in November. And in December, we both needed to fly out of Denver … and somehow our flights went out on the same day (different planes, different destinations). So I had a good friend drive us both to DIA. We followed the creed of Christmas travelers: arrive early; thus, the pre-flight java before one of us flew south, and the other flew north. Less than six months later, we had a wedding.
A safe place. A commitment to live well with each other, and to love well with each other, and to look ahead, for the big things, with each other. Life is harsh, and we fight for each other. And we when we don’t see eye to eye, we fight with honor, with respect. We parent together. We rest from the storms, and we heal from the wounds, our stories have redemption. For my amazing wife, Happy Valentines Day, my love. I have had a place in my heart for folks who are in marriages that aren’t working. So difficult, as they don’t always know whether to stay or to go. A million dollar question for some is “Can this marriage be healed?” And in some cases, the only right answer is get out of the marriage. All of this is so difficult. I hope the best for all. We all need peace; we all need hope; we all need to be safe; and we all need to be loved well.
First day off in the last 8 days. I’ve been in the back-country doing fire mitigation, with the exception of four days in the Park (Rocky Mountain National Park) where our team was hired to plant 20,000 plants. This “planting” job is an adventure I don’t think I ever want to repeat, but if I was asked to go back again, who knows? Currently we are working up in the Arapaho / Roosevelt National Forest just above an old mining town – – – Silver Plume, Colorado, current population 169.
We get to where we are working by railroad, usually a 5′ by 5′ square yellow rail car, pulling an equipment car (about 6′ long, 4′ wide), with 12″ rail bordering the cart, to keep equipment from sliding off. Here is one picture that is definitely more of an experience to see if this will come through.
The fire mitigation can be described far better than me, because this is not what I do … as a career. I am a writer, and a psychotherapist, and I enjoy picking up different jobs from time to time. You may have to hit the link to see it. I’m showing this, because when my daughter saw it, she laughed, and so did my wife. I was trying to speak, an the train-horn plasted both times interrupting me. Then I started thinking out loud about the train horn-blasts when the video stopped. Its been good to have a little time to catch-up on some excellent blogs / posts.
‘Wrote a post a while back about movies that can make a man weep. Here is a safety-tip: try to analyze the title of the movie, maintaining a high level of awareness, to avoid the possibility of tears. For me, my preference is to ALWAYS avoid movies that have the potential to make a man weep. Hey: a movie can get past you. Sometimes the Mrs. picks out the movie right? I have an excuse for “Bambi” and “Old Yeller”. I was a kid.
So, my dilemma with this DVD, is that it made me weep. I almost pulled it off. I reached the end, and then … it happened. So, gentlemen, I will go ahead and give you the name of the movie so that you can keep yourself from getting drawn into a movie that might cause you to weep in front of your wife or your girlfriend: AWKWARD ! & BUMMER! So here is the movie: “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
I usually don’t recommend movies that bring about some degree of weeping. Another dilemma: I normally stay away from movies that come ANYWHERE close to the 9/11 tragedy (2001). However, the movie really is not about the 9/11 tragedy. It is about profound relational dynamics that come up with loss, grief, confusion, and re-connecting. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a great movie. I cautiously recommend the movie, with the understanding that even though this movie IS NOT ABOUT 9/11 … one could be triggered; thus, my caution. The acting is top-notch / Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks. I don’t know anything about the kiddo. But he portrays an Aspergers kiddo. And I guess that hits home, right in the breadbasket. My son is an Aspergers kiddo. Thomas Horn portrays the 9-year-old boy Oscar Schell, who is (in the movie) somewhere on the Autism spectrum, trying to make sense of everything.
One book that gave me much-needed insight on the dark night of the soul was Gerald May’s work,Dark Night Of the Soul.
“Peace is not something you can force on anything or anyone… . much less upon one’s own mind. It’s like trying to quiet the ocean by pressing upon the waves. Sanity lies in somehow opening to the chaos, allowing anxiety, moving deeply into the tumult, diving into the waves, where underneath, within, peace simply is.” FromTHE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL by Gerald May
St. John of the Cross (originally known as San Juan de la Cruz) wrote the “Dark Night of the Soul”, a long poem, during the 16th century.
Here are my thoughts, on the dark night of the soul: an ambiguous, desert-time that some sense they are going through; others don’t know about the dark night of the soul. There are different descriptions, different names. Community is crucial; and yet, the paradox of community is profound. Blogging plays a part in community, and I don’t know what I think of that. Maybe that is why I consider it a paradox.
You may be going through a dark night of the soul. Or, you may know someone who is going through . . . something … that has the characteristics of melancholy, or depression, or despair, or hopelessness. What you see may seem to be self-pity. But unless you pursue them, you will not find out. Thus, community. The dark night of the soul is part of my own journey, and community is more difficult in my older years. Mornings are elusive. But I know that there is peace, here, and it will never be absent.
“… the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon …” (Acts 27:13)
The rest of the story in 27 (Acts) is very interesting. Among many things that stands out is the idea that Paul is a prisoner on this ship (276 souls) … and he gives the centurion (he’s in charge, by the way) advice … advice that will end up saving everyone’s life. So, to some degree, it’s not the people who are in authority who have the wisdom; it’s the prisoner, Paul. And, in fact, he does save their lives. But, Paul is still a prisoner, who paradoxically has freedom at the same time. It is not until death that Paul experiences the maximum freedom. And it is not suicide, where Paul decides that it is time to go to the Other Side. No, it is the authorities who decide it is time for him to go. Humility. Wisdom. Courage. There it is: hope in the storms; glory in the story.
Thankful, yes; the joy intense, like heat, like sun … and the joy, so intense / hot / bright actually drives me away from glory, into a hiding place … driving me away from where He wants me to be.
How can joy drive me away? There is a desire to sabotage, to bring it down, when we are supposed to be up, and connected, and present. Yeah, the desire to sabotage strangely stirs. Maybe it is the message from somewhere, someone, that this is all too good for me. Yes, that one lie that goes something like this:
YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS, LOSER
So, I hide, I howl, I hurt, I hoof it out of town, and hole-up somewhere.
But He watches on (ever watching); He continues (Alpha, Omega) to battle, to provide (“No Fear, Bro”) …
He loves (Great Lover) … And He will be. He will be here. He will be there, on the Other Side of the Trees.
Years ago late one night, Harold – – – my upstairs neighbor – – – was getting robbed. Before I knew what was happening, I drove into the driveway, seeing a Ford pickup backed up to the front door.
Something is wrong here.
As I got out of my Subaru, like nothing was wrong, a white guy with a ball-cap and wild-looking eyes walked out the front door carrying a TV, “Hey, dude! What’s happening?” My response: “Not much. Just getting home from work.” Two women stood to the side, staring at me.
Inside my apartment, I locked the door, walked to the inside door to the laundry room, opened the door a crack, listened, and heard the two women at the top of the stairs, whispering. My imagination went south: Harold was hurt (?), unconscious (?), or dead, (?). I was going to call the police; but my phone was gone.
I then stepped out to get to my car and go for help. But at the top of the hill, those same two women were standing at the driveway staring at me. I returned to my apartment, locked the door, and prayed like a wild man.
Ten minutes later, the truck started, left the property. Five minutes after that, Harold came down the stairs, through the laundry room, knocked on my door.
I opened the door, Harold's face as white as a sheet.
He asked ... "You okay?"
"Yeah, I guess." I was calm. Then I snapped: Harold! I thought
you were either dead,! Or knocked out! What was that all about?"
"He's crazy, hopped up on drugs, waving a pistol. And he started
hauling stuff out."
I will never forget the imagery of Harold’s home being robbed. “A thief in the night.” ‘So sudden, so unexpected. Life is like that, at times. Thieves come, and do not always look the same. They steal our sleep; our time; our valuables. Thieves temporarily steal our sanity, our safety. Thieves attempt to steal our courage, our hope, our vision, our dreams … our hearts. Thieves sometimes come with fear.
Bad things happen. Yeah, they do.
Good things happen. Yes. They do.
Good news is that we have FREEDOM, and fortitude, and the RIGHT to CHOOSE to transcend injustice. Andy, from Shawshank Redemption, said ” … time to get busy living, or get busy dying …” We areresilient. We arebrave hearts. We can do as Churchill did: