Time to Pause

June 5, 2008


For the past two months—or ever since the last piece of wood was put onto the Peace Fire on April 6, thereby allowing it to come to an end after six continuous years of burning— a sense of “empty anticipation” has been a constant companion. Empty in the sense that what I most desire right now is to simply empty myself out, sit still and listen. Anticipation, in the sense that the next important phase of my life is arriving and I want to be ready for this encounter; uncluttered and free of excessive constraints whether physical, emotional or even spiritual.

There Is a Place Beyond Ambition

When the flute players
couldn’t think of what to say next

they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river

and just listened.
Some of them, after a while,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest —
so quiet, not even thoughtful —
are still there,

still listening.

Mary Oliver

Alice Walker dedicated the following poem, “Light Baggage”, to Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larson, and Jean Toomer; all writers who, at some point in their careers, left the “career” of writing and went off seeking writing’s very heart: life itself. Zora went back to her native Florida where she lived in a one-room cabin and raised her own food; Jean Toomer became a Quaker and country philosopher in Bucks Counth, Pennsylvania; and Nella Larson became a nurse.

Light Baggage
(for Zora, Nella, Jean)*

there is a magic
lingering after people
to whom success is merely personal.
who, when the public prepares a feast
for their belated acceptance parties,
pack it up like light baggage
and disappear into the swamps of Florida
or go looking for newer Gods
in the Oak tree country
of Pennsylvania.
or decide, quite suddenly, to try nursing,
midwifery, anonymous among the sick and the poor.
stories about such people
tell us little;
and if a hundred photographs survive
each one will show a different face.
someone out of step. alone out there, absorbed;
fishing in the waters of experience
a slouched back against the shoulders
of the world.

Alice Walker

I, like Zora, Nella and Jean, feel the need to leave the public’s gaze, close the gates of Windgrove and turn the energy of my emerging elder years towards a new, as yet unknown, direction. These next months are to be a period of emptying myself of ritualized duties, writing weeky blogs and laying down the banners, so to speak, to find more time in the day to just listen. To be like the empty Tibetan temple bowl that resonants clearly and beautifully when hit, this is my present goal.

As patterns emerge, I’ll blog them. If nothing else, there will be the occasional post on whatever artistic endeavors I am undertaking.

So, for now, after five and a half years of weekly blogs, goodbye.


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