I am seeing the light of a new day. Deep down the iceberg is still there, but I am now floating on one little piece of it. While it is still under me, I have things to do. Not things of my own will, not at all. Things of the spirit that will not be denied.
I am a medicine woman of sorts. It has taken me so long to see that. This body of work I have accumulated is worthless, for it is given in the moment for the moment. It doesn’t matter if it is remembered. I used to think it did.
The words arise from such a deep place in me that I could never call it mine. I came into the world to give this gift, not to be acknowledged for it. Mea culpa, as Leonard Cohen urges us to say. Mea culpa.
I am here to serve, not to save the world. I am here to take full responsibility for my part in the evils of this world. It has ever been thus.
This is a crisp new dollar bill of a day. Let me use it to serve my maker. Nothing else matters. Let my writing offer solace not brilliance. Let my words bring healing not admiration. Only then can I be said to love.
After my child died there was no role for a bereaved parent. Not in 1978. Not sure there is now. So I did what any self-respecting human would do. I hid my pain in order to make others comfortable. In order to make myself comfortable in the new normal which I had no proper place in.
We got a dog. Rob was in school learning his new role. Bob was becoming a workaholic right in front of my eyes. His work became all-consuming for him. Well, until he was forced to take early retirement before he turned 52. I think that may have caused the cancer. The ten or eleven years he spent in our unfinished basement trying to come up with a consulting career. Instead he was diagnosed with the same cancer that killed his father.
During Bob’s cancer years I became an essayist. I have written thousands of them, all pretty good and to the point. Now I am entering a new phase in my life. Not knowing. Two words I am not good at. Not knowing. For knowledge is something we apply to our broken lives in hopes of a quick fix. There is none.
I have absorbed my life rapidly into my bloodstream. I sit with nothing to do but be. And in this being I am a becoming. An endless love. An eternal flame. The flame consumes the guilt and the sorrow if I am still enough. If I am empty enough.
The new is transcendent only for a moment. But in that moment God is alive. Now we have to keep choosing transcendence as much as possible. And then it begins to choose us. The dance is dharmic, graceful and healing. You may dance alone but God is your silent partner.
There is a huge discovery to be made by everyone, but it does not offer itself but to the few. What is it? Why is it such a rarity?
The “I am” lives outside of time, outside of the Game of Life. And the game of life is false from the get-go because it lives by the clock. You have a job? It is always located in space and time. The “I am” knows this but is not this.
So you are one of the few that make this discovery. How does it change you? It doesn’t change the time-self. It does lift the “I am” out of the picture so it can become the witness. It is a sort of witness relocation program.
You can unfasten your space-time belt and move about the cabin freely. But there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. That is the nature of “I am” as witness.
“I am” is your insurance policy and not your insurance “police.” it frees you of restrictions and guarantees you of your rights. But not the rights of the time-self but of the eternal Self.
Got it? I thought so.
My dear friend John Fox is a medicine man of sorts. He created The Institute for Poetic Medicine to share his calling. His gift is poetry and he gives it to all sorts of people. People with cancer, people in prison, children, on and on. I met him when my husband was getting treatment for his cancer. He gave a program at The Wellness Community in Atlanta. He drew us around him in a circle and led us in reading and writing poetry. The group came alive as one by one, we stood and read what we had written. Everyone was listening to us, to our innermost words!
Since then I have been honored to attend quite a few of his Poetic Medicine sessions. Each one is different, but John is always the same. Hard to say what makes him so special. He is gifted with humility and the ability to deeply listen to those who come to him. I see him as a shaman, for sure. My late friend Agata facilitated his work when she was alive, as she did the work of Theo Paredes. Shamans are able to travel between the worlds and bring gifts of healing. Agata herself was a shaman and she is working from the other side now, I imagine.
On Sunday, Rob helped John with the projector part of his presentation and did a beautiful job. Afterwards, we went out for cocoa with Susan of Decatur Healing Arts and another friend. It was a very special day. Rob got to pick John up at the airport and drop him off where he was staying. A few years back, Rob joined John on a trip to the Canyon de Chelly for a Poetic Medicine trip there. It was life-changing for him.
I am grateful to know John Fox. Men like him are rare. I will put a link to his website so you can explore it.
The Institute For Poetic Medicine
Rob and I were privileged to spend an afternoon of Poetic Medicine with John Fox. The event took place at Decatur Healing Arts. But before that, we had a lovely meal at Cafe Lily, which is where the photo was taken.
John has a unique way of working. He gives a presentation (Rob helped him with the slides) and then offers space for the participants to write their own poetry. John says that is his favorite part of the workshop. He loves to watch everyone at work, plus he writes one as well. Most of us dared to stand and read our poems. John’s quiet attentive presence creates a safe place for us to do this.
Afterwards, several of us went to a chocolate shop for coffee or hot chocolate. As I sat there sipping a fancy concoction and eating a peanut butter cookie, I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” I didn’t even turn on the Super Bowl.
On the ride to the chocolate shop, John asked me some questions about my teacher, Vernon Howard I told him little was known about Vernon. He didn’t talk about himself. And he followed the principles of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky and Maurice Nicoll. They taught the Fourth Way. I was drawn to this, I told John, because coming from a southern family, everyone was nice on the surface, but underneath was a different story. I was ready for a tough teacher.
Now I’m back at the keyboard, grateful that there are people in the world like John Fox. He works with cancer patients, prisoners, children, the list goes on and on. He gives people a chance to be heard in a safe creative environment. I cherish the time spent with him over the years.