MEDITATION ON SEEING #2 of 4 parts

0044-2013--Confluence Dry Creek and Russion River #2a

0044-2013–Confluence Dry Creek and Russion River #2a

© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

This is an extract from a manuscript I used
in a class on spirituality and photography
at the Pacific School of Religion,
and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

I wonder just how many things I have looked at and never seen. Staring at a deep hole in a brook and seeing nothing, a fish leaps, breaking water with a splash that is sudden, unexpected, and startling. How could a fish have been in that water? I am sure there was nothing in the brook where I was looking. Could the fish be a magic fish and just appear from nowhere? Walking along an empty path, when part of the path croaks at me and leaps into the same brook. Maybe it is the brook that is magic. Or maybe I am blind, and only think I can see. Or, maybe the whole world is magic once one begins to look for what magic might be seen.
In a blue sky, a red tail hawk soars. It is on the hunt, and it can really see. Eyes like a hawk and all that, it can see the smallest movement from hundreds of feet in the air. Would that I could see like that hawk. Going into a steep left banking maneuver, its red tailfeathers flash rust-red in the sun—dazzling. The great bird drifts down to the branches of a blue oak tree and disappears—no more hawk. I want to see. I am not blind by choice. I do work hard at seeing. Cherie points at the hawk in the blue oak. I peer and lust after the sight, but no hawk.
The trees sing to me. I can see the trees, and they sound like birds. I must assume that the trees have learned to sound like birds, or else admit to being blind to birds. The trees make so many different bird sounds. It could be their leaves that have learned bird song.
From well over one hundred feet in the air, a leaf swoops down from a cottonwood tree. I can see that leaf. Maybe I can see leaves because I spend my time searching the trees for a glimpse at the birds. I can see leaves. Another leaf just now flew past me. Both leaves lit softly in the brook. I wonder if I have it all wrong? I peer into the depths of the trees in search of birds and I see leaves. Should I look instead for leaves to see the birds? Yet, why is it that I can see the hawks? Are the raptors of stronger stuff than birds that hide in trees?
I think the birds hide for good purpose. I suspect human vision is much too sharp for their wild comfort and tender skins. Once, high on the side of a Sierra Nevada peak, I espied a chipmunk eating the seeds from a low grass. I made not a move, but as soon as I saw what it was my eyes were looking at, the chipmunk flinched. I wondered at the time if my human vision was like a needle to prick that which I viewed. Did I needle-prick that chipmunk? I do not blame the birds for hiding.
City birds seem too calloused to, or by, human vision. Other birds, black birds, especially the redwings in the tules, are bold. They have no patience with intruders. they let me see them, but their language is foul. Once, when I was drawing some tule cattails, the redwings gathered around me and hurled insults until I left. Cherie asked me how thick was my skin to endure aspersions like that.
I never knew how many grasses I was blind to until I started to draw them. I first thought that if I were to go out and draw three or four I would have a reasonably good representation for my area. So I thought. There are grasses the grass book does not even know about. Dogtoothgrass, Hairgress, Dogtail, Ryegrass, Italian ryegrass, Squirreltail, Sorghum, Secal, Wheat, Canarygrass, Cupgrass, Brome, Dallisgrass, Lovegrass: just to name a few.
Where were all of these grasses last year? Years ago, then Governor of California Ronald Reagan, when commenting on the beauty of California’s redwood forests ignorantly proclaimed, “If you have seen one redwood you have seen them all,” or something close to that. He could have been speaking out of my own ignorance of grasses, flowers, and native plants in general. Take the oak trees in and around Northern California, where I live. Parts of this area are considered an oak savanna. I knew generally what an oak tree looks like, but valley oak, blue oak, lindermann oak, interior live oak, black oak, and more I do not know.
I cannot begin to discuss what I do not know to see about the pine trees. I have learned that the difference between the jeffrey pine and the ponderosa pine is that the jeffrey grows above the 6000 foot elevation and the ponderosa does not. I know that the only other way to really distinguish them is by the pinecone prickles which I never seem to remember and always need to look up—the ponderosa pinecone has outward pointing prickles, and the pinecone on the jeffrey has inward pointing prickles. But the grasses, I just seem to draw them I do not appear able to name them. There are too many of them, and there are more I discover every time I go out to draw. Not only am I blind, but it seems I am becoming more blind.
It is an invisible world out there, but I do get to see some of it, though not all. Learning the grasses and the oaks, and finding out about the prickles on the ponderosas and jeffreies is a first step. My eyes want to see, but my mind seems not to perceive. That is not the fault of my eyes. They are good eyes, and I am learning to see what they see.
Eyes. I am also beginning to see other peoples’ eyes. I am learning to see there is as much hidden in eyes as there are birds hidden in leaves. Pain, joy, sadness, gladness: these are hidden from sharp, analytic, human vision. A smiling face and laughter, but the eyes show fear. The unctuous voice and accommodating body language, with eyes offering only rage and rebellion. A voice speaking loudly with surety as a point is being made, yet the dry eyes cry out from suppressed tears and the need of recognition. The offer of love, freely given to offer hope and help, but these eyes are hungry, starved for the very gift offered. I have learned to see eyes as the trail-markers to the human soul.
The open, bright, fresh, clear, new eyes of wonder we see in a healthy child are, I believe, the norm for the human race. These eyes clear, not jaded, are stars in a facial universe, not treacherous ravines hidden in the shadow-side of a canyon. I want my eyes to show my dreams, and to let my world in, not block it out. I would like the courage to risk being seen fully by sharp, critical human vision.
I think much of what I do not see is due to years of training my eyes to block out and to shield my feelings from others. At some period in my life it was advantageous to do so, but it will not do at all now. I cannot afford to not see well because there is so much I have not seen. How can I possibly see all I need to see when I only peer out around barricades I have constructed? Seeing well is to have an unobstructed field of vision. How can I photograph a field if there is a wall in front of my lens? If I deconstruct walls I have built up against sharp human vision, maybe I will be able to see more birds and grasses. Maybe, if my own vision will be not quite so sharp, it could be much clearer.

MEDITATION ON SEEING #1 of 4 parts

001-78, Maple Roots and Leaf --- Seeing into the Mystery

001-78, Maple Roots and Leaf — Seeing into the Mystery

© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

This is an extract from a manuscript I used
in a class on spirituality and photography
at the Pacific School of Religion,
and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

I have learned what is probably one of the greatest lessons of my career. I need to see. I mean I really need to see. The lesson itself is ironic, but nonetheless it is a discovery that may be the significant discovery of my thirty plus years as a photographer. It was neither a technical discovery, nor was it one of monumental import to the field of photography. It was personal. I discovered why I am still a photographer, but also that I need more than photography to be a good photographer.

When I was fourteen I became a photographer because the way images came up in a developing-out tray seemed like real magic. I found joy in causing an image to appear on the blank sheet of paper. I remember once proclaiming, “Taking photographs is not as wonderful as developing out the paper.” I only took pictures so I could work at making prints. My discovery that I need to see took me many steps beyond that adolescent decree.
My next realization was that the tonal values in a black and white print made me feel a way no other medium could come close to making me feel. The grays and shades of light and dark, when they fall as I have intended, make chills run up my spine. Viewing my prints, or anybody’s good black and white prints hung in a well lighted gallery is a moving experience for me.
Music almost does it. Once when I was in a band, there were times when the music pushed me into a certain inexplicable process of sensations that was almost addictive. The band seemed in a channel and I could not escape the incredible rhythm had I wanted. I felt I was infused with the pulse of the cosmos. It did not, however, make my belly wrench.
I write, read, and listen to poetry. Many times I am moved profoundly by the ideas and again by the rhythms. There is a dimension to that medium which inspires me. I receive ideas on which to turn my lens and my heart. Poetry sings like the music. It is my second love to photography. It moves my heart, but it does not leave my stomach with the weightlessness of a dip in the road at high speed.
Painting excites me, especially abstract expressionism. Pollock, Gottleib, Still, and Rothko bring me close to a sense of the ineffable. LeCompt and Palmer push me mystically into another realm of being in much the same way that Segal and DeStaebler force me into reality. I spent the last year working with acrylics and the colors made my mouth water. Concept and paint transferred from spirit to brush to canvas intrigued and captivated my senses. Like the music, it did not bring on a slow roll in my belly. This is analogous to anticipating sex: looking at the tones in a well stated gelatin silver print.
How I feel about a black and white photograph is inexpressible, yet it is that precise feeling which makes me a photographer, and which draws me beyond. I believe it is that same feeling that makes a dancer a dancer, a painter a painter, a musician a musician, or a writer a writer. It is that compelling desire to do a thing that generates in us a sensation in a way that nothing else can possibly induce.
This is a sweet feeling, a feeling of excitement, a rush of passion making my whole body twitch. When I look at the tonal values in a good black and white image, I feel both a deep satisfaction and an incompleteness. I feel wonder and, if it is one of my own images, I rejoice it was I who created it.
Once, on a reckless summer night, my youth got the better of my driver’s training. I took a car up to and beyond its limits for the road. One hundred thirty-five MPH on a narrow country highway made me feel like I owned my life. My blood and nervous system surged with a high-speed rush. I felt it was my own youth that governed the universe. This is close to how I feel when I look at one of my own prints, and no other medium has offered anything that comes close. Yet I have come to understand that it is no longer just the photography, or seeing the black and white photographic print. I have come to understand that it is seeing—really seeing—that moves me. I want to see more and more. Photography lets me into a world that for the most part is hidden—I want to see more of that world.
So, I have begun to draw. I still am a photographer, but I felt I needed my discipline of seeing enhanced by learning how to see in new ways. I have chosen to draw plants and grasses. My reasoning is that for a long time now I have photographed them, but when I photograph, I tend to see only in terms of composition, which is good for my images, but has begun to not be enough for my understanding of the world around me. I want to see in greater detail. I want to see what makes up the scene that becomes my photographic image. I want to know how much I miss by only seeing one way—the photographic way. I have taken on the task of finding and identifying flowers and grasses so as to study their details. I have discovered that I have really never seen, and I suspect that learning to see another way will enhance how I see photographically. So Cherie and I go on long seek-and-find missions to the wild areas of the California Foothills and Sierra Nevada Mountains in search if what we have not seen. We have become vision-gluttons and compulsive seers. We have learned that a flower we have never seen before and for all we knew never existed, once seen, is everywhere. I am not sure how this works. Maybe it is a miracle, but it is a miracle to which I have become addicted—I want more of them. I do not want to miss anything. I want to see it all.

MEDITATION ON PATHS — #3

The Nature of the Path

The Nature of the Path

This is part three of an extract from a manuscript I used
in a class on spirituality and photography
at the Pacific School of Religion,
and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

Sometimes our paths lead to our centers, sometimes out away from our centers, and sometimes our paths connect our centers with that which is outside us. I spied a trail in the grass of a dewy morning. The trail was less than an inch across. It wound through the lowest level of the canopy of grasses under the taller grasses, zigging and zagging around the thicker stalks of grass, pushing down and matting the shorter, thinner grass stalks, at times forking and disappearing into holes or thickets, at times going straight. A hawk soared. At one end of the trail was a burrow in a thick patch of blackberries. At the other end the trail disappeared into a thicket. The trail told me a lot about a life that lived in fear of hawks. There were many protections: built in escape routes, dead-ends, holes in the ground where the animal could dive for cover. I knew that whatever the animal was, it could never forget its hawk, the predator who hunted, and would make a meal of it. Many times our trails reveal our hawks, those who would devour us. Sometimes our trails reveal who it is we devour. We can gain clues about ourselves by observing our own paths.

Sometimes our paths cross with others’ paths. I recall watching a small cut-glass vase tumble end over end to the concrete and smash into thousands of minute fragments. As I watched the vase tumble, I watched also the clumsy, fearful hands that tried to catch it before it hit the cement and shattered. I remember, too, the look of anguish on the face of the young woman as the vase shattered. The splintering glass and her visage were of a kind. She was a street person, homeless, and the vase had fallen out of a shopping cart as she looked for something else. It was early morning, and she had just awakened. I had watched her climb out of her night-wrappings and off a concrete building-porch in down-town San Francisco. The glass must have been the last remaining vestige and a symbol of another way of life, all she had saved from another and better, happier time. The time she remembered was gone, as was the vase, but where the whole vase symbolized her prior life, the shattered glass was now a symbol of her present way of life. That she knew this was written in the horror on her face. Our paths crossed by way of the symbol represented in that shattered vase. The glass splinters also symbolized the dreams in my own life that have shattered. I felt her anguish because it was my own anguish as well.

What are the paths around us? What kind of clues do we find? Bateson saw an index in the spiderwebs that referenced the paths of very tiny insects. What paths are there to see? What ways do we go in our hearts and with our bodies? When I think of spiderwebs, I always think of the spiderwebs out at Bannon Island. These were some tough webs. I ran into one with my face, and I thought I had got caught up in fishing line. I stopped and looked around and discovered that I was in the middle of a spiderweb forest. These webs were ten feet across, and had the biggest and yellowest spiders in the center of them. I just backed on out of the area. I do not like spiders very much. Some of those webs also had large holes poked in them. Some of the holes were patched and had spiders living in them, but some were not patched and had no spiders living in them. The whole area had a surreal quality to it. Birds, I discovered later would swoop through the openings in the trees across which the spiders had spun their webs. In the empty webs the birds had eaten the spiders. I was seeing in the holes in the spiderwebs, the pathways of the birds.

Sometimes I just want to take off, to get away and not be on any path at all–not to hide or escape, but to test myself. Every time I have done so it has been a harder way but in many ways extremely satisfying. Two times when I was hiking and decided to leave the trail and go cross country I ended up literally dropping off cliffs because there was no other way down. I came out roughed-up, scratched, and jarred, but relatively unhurt. One time I had slithered up a steep grade of loose shale only to find there was a sheer drop of over one thousand feet over the other side, and I had to back down the shale. It was fifteen hundred feet to the bottom, and I could not see my steps as I could when I went up. One slip and finely tuned body would have taken on the consistency of raspberry jam. Each physically dangerous place has enabled me to find a rock-solid place within me on which I can depend.

This deep, solid center offers me a steadying presence in the midst of a shaky existence. Because I have found that solid, steadying presence at moments of extreme physical danger, I can find it in the midst of other kinds of danger too. Our exterior paths lead us to the paths to our centers.

Yet, paths do not necessarily go inward, and they are not necessarily rock-steady. Paths can be fragmented and go outward as well. These are paths we use when we try to deny or escape our lives. What do the paths look like which we use to escape? There are those who embrace life, and there are those who are the runners from life. What are the paths of the latter? Good words, fancy phrases, but with quick eyes and faster feet, runners who do their best to escape what they fear. What they fear is considerable, yet it is much the same as those who embrace life must face. Mostly those who would escape fear death, whether physical or psychological or imagined, and because they fear it they deny it. Their denial is the path they use to run on. These runners pretend these are smooth paths, but the paths are truly rough and deadly. There is no rock-solid center, but fragmentary and fractured areas of diffusion and confusion which, too, are denied.

We can tell these paths because they seem to have no beginning or ending, they just have parts of paths. Like lizard tracks in a windstorm, the paths of denial disappear in the upper ridges where the going is hard, but reappear in the lower, easier regions. These paths are blown-out by drugs, alcohol, consumerism, unattached love affairs, easy answers, and a general inability to, commit to any one thing except pain—which itself is denied. It is in the pain that these paths cross our own. Recognition of the pain, as Fox suggests, is the via negativa a path that does not seek out pain or deny pain, but a path that recognizes and accepts pain along with creation and the New Creation of the via transformativa. The via negativa is the cross-country way. It follows the harder trails, but it has hope in the blessing, not escape.

As you go out to meditate on paths, keep in mind that the paths we see and photograph must lead us to some place. Paths have a destination. I suggest that where we want to go with our path meditation is into our center within. This is the Rome to which all roads lead us. If you are keeping a journal, you might make notes of how you feel as you discover certain kinds of paths. What do the paths make you remember? If the path seems like some other path you have been on, jot that down. It might be that after a meditation on paths during the day, you will dream about paths during the night, or at least something related to paths–going on a journey, being lost, finding something. Too, it could be that thoughts will come to you at the busiest and most inappropriate portion of your day that relate to this meditation. Keep a pad and writing tool close so you can jot down what insights you may have. All of this will help you on your visual meditation. For as you meditate, make images and contemplate the notion of paths, deeper and deeper levels of meaning will come to you.

Also, as you make your images, jot down what thoughts you have. The act of creation often brings creative insights. Making the image is an out-sight which in turn brings insights.

MEDITATION ON PATHS — #2

The Path We Choose

The Path We Choose

This is part two of an extract from a manuscript I used
in a class on spirituality and photography
at the Pacific School of Religion,
and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

Henry David Thoreau, of Waldon Pond fame, claimed he could not keep up his health or his good spirit if he did not walk at least four hours a day, “sauntering through the woods and over hills and fields.” Thoreau maintained his walks in the open, and he followed the natural pathways of meadow, woodland, river, brook. He wanted his walks unobstructed by fence. Thoreau used his walks as metaphorical opposites to what could occur in a town. He enjoyed the freedom of walking off the public road, and he found the paths we chose to walk “symbolical of the path which we love to travel in the interior and ideal world.” In other words, the path we choose for our feet many times is symbolic of the path we choose for our hearts.

Theologian Matthew Fox finds four paths to walk: The via positiva, the via negativa, the via creativa, and the via transformativa. Each of these paths offer us an insight for movement toward the divine. In the via positiva we are blessed by the abundant and creative energy of God, and filled with what Fox terms the dabar, the energetic, creative, playful, and imaginative word of God which is in relationship between blessing-giver and blessing-receiver. The via negativa is a path existing in dark space. Via Negative is not asceticism which looks for pain, but the path of the via negativa refuses to deny pain and suffering and therefore is a path of strength. The via creativa is a path that celebrates the power of birth itself. The universe is overwhelmingly fecund. The motion of the cosmos follows a celebratory path of creation. The via transformativa is a path that renews creation. This path is a path of return to the original path of blessing, the via positiva. This is a path to the New Creation, the fulfillment of the promises of God.

The Buddha offers us one eight-fold path which finds a middle way between two extremes: one extreme is the sadistic forms of hedonism, the other extreme is the masochistic forms of asceticism. The eight categories or divisions of this Middle Path are: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. The Middle Path, the Magga utilizes these eight factors for the development of the individual’s life to be ethical, mentally disciplined, and wise. The Buddhist Middle Path seeks no less that inner and outer perfection, and perfection–knowledge and understanding of the Ultimate Reality—can only occur on the Path.

Exterior paths are usually thought of as leading to exterior destinations, but many times they can lead to interior destinations as well. Mary Catherine Bateson writes of growing up and being taught by her father, Gregory Bateson, to find clues to what is going on by looking for and finding clues to the mysteries of life. She writes of a natural history lesson wher her father showed her the complexities of the world, and how to find paths by what that which is not a path. Spiderwebs showed the pathways of very small feeding insects. We look for paths to finds clues to what there is to be seen and known. We also look for clues that lead to the paths we seek.

In one sense, our history is a clue to the paths we have taken. This was certainly the case for the Hebrews. Bernard Anderson writes that the Hebrews looked back at all their myths and legends from the Exodus experience, and re-wrote their history to express how they encountered God’s presence in their present experience, and in that present experience was an inchoate pattern for all experiences of their past and present. We, like Gregory Bateson and the early Hebrews, look to the patterns of our present experience to find the patterns of our experience.

A camera records patterns. As we meditate on the patterns of our lives and the paths which form those patterns, what do we see as the analogues around us which bespeak those paths and patterns? I look at the patterns of cow-trails made as cattle graze around a hillside. It is an interesting pattern which is formed. On a spring morning, as the early light bends over the hill’s top, and the greens of early growth are enhanced by the contrast provided by the harsh cross-light, I see an interesting pattern. I know cows have grazed here. I know too that there is a farmer who’s life is caught up in the intricacies of those crossed and circular grazing patterns. I make an image.

FINAL INSTALLMENT NEXT WEEK…

 

MEDITATION ON PATHS — # 1

The Paths WeTravelMeditation on Paths
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

This is part one of an extract from a manuscript I used
in a class on spirituality and photography
at the Pacific School of Religion,
and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

How do we get to where we are going, and why is it that we cannot see forward except by guessing and speculation, while it seems we can see backwards just fine? If the axiom “all roads [the paths we have taken] lead to Rome [the home we claim for ourselves]” is true for us, it is only in retrospect we can know the roads which were traveled which led to this our present.

How could I have known that, back in 1966, as Cherie and I were awaiting our first child, Shannon, to be born and I took my father’s old Argus Color Camera out to the Auburn Ravine to test the shutter so I would be sure to get good images of our first child, that I would end up a professional photographer? How could I have known when I, eight years later, filed for bankruptcy and proclaimed that I would ever touch a camera again, or that I would go back into photography less than four years later? Not I, that is certain. I could never have guessed that one day my failures would become paths to my successes.

Neither could I have known that when I had my first exhibition in 1969 dealing with the re-development of what is now Old Sacramento, that it was setting an agenda for the rest of my professional photographic career. Land and space issues, what we give up for the mirage of progress: this is what I have spent my career photographing. But I still do not know where it is I am going. I am not even sure enough of where I am to know where there is. I have learned though that the path I take will eventually lead to where I will be, and wherever that is, will be somewhere in the process of obtaining my heart’s desire: this is to move on a path that is closer to the divine through using the gifts which I have been given by the divine which I love. I know it will be good. Photography, drawing, prayer, theology, preaching, counseling: these are my gifts for a life in the Spirit which lures me along a path to the divine.

I have learned about paths from hiking. I started to hike at an older age, I was twenty-five years old when I did my first one. I knew nothing about hiking. I knew that I was going into the mountains. The Donner Party had frozen to death in the Sierra Nevada range, and as that was where I would be hiking, I purchased hiking supplies accordingly. I bought boots insulated to twenty below zero, a light-weight pack on a frame, food that tasted like dungeon-fare (dried dietary eggs and Bacos for breakfast, pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and store-bought beef jerky for dinner, and because I smoked two packs a day, lots of cigarettes). I learned my lessons the heard way. My feet roasted hiking in the ninety-degree August weather, I was nauseated most of the day from the food, my pack-frame snapped and I had to drag it back to the car, and after I realized that my lungs could not absorb enough oxygen at the high elevations I hiked, I gave up smoking.

Mine was not even close to a Donner Party experience, it was my own, but at times I did think it would be my last experience. I have had blisters so bad that my feet absorbed my socks, and it took an hour of hiking each morning before my feet got numb enough so I could hike without pain—and I had to start the feet-numbing process all over again after each break. I have spent hours lost deep in a red-fir forest, circling and crisscrossing until I found the trail. In the sun’s glare I have almost walked into an ice crevasse. I have slipped on black ice while crossing a stream with a forty-pound pack and landed square on my knees. With all that said, I go back, and I went back until my body hardened and became trail-wise. Eventually, I learned what food and clothes to buy, how to gauge my energy, and how to walk, even how high to lift my feet. I have even developed a sense of direction that helps me when I cannot find blazes.

I now have over thirty years experience hiking on the mountain’s paths, and with the physical and functional knowledge attained, I have been able to learn something of myself, and something of the divine. Poetry comes to me when I hike so I will share one at this point.

Rain Shadow
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

We hiked the long north slope
To Tell’s Peak,
Trailing day-old horseshoe prints
Of ranger and horse.
One quarter mile from summit,
We forked east and down
Between Tell’s and McConnel Peaks,
To a cirque and Highland Lake.
I’ve been colder.
Storm-dropped clouds fell
Tent-top high.
Cloud-frozen wind slid between peaks
And clouds, blew hopes
For fish on empty lures to our teeth.
Fire rose above stone fire-circle,
Then flattened.
Burned food/frozen food
Uneaten of tin dishes.
Too cold to stay up,
We went discouraged,
Disappointed into sleeping bags.
Too cold to sleep,
But morning’s weather looked better.
We started back to the ridges,
To the fork, No-Name Lake, and
A yellow-belly marmot on the granite.
Then, the final climb,
Clouds breaking up,
The summit,
And the real treat.
Looking back into the Great Valley,
As far as sight,
Then back to this range we sat,
Came first lines of storm front.
Row on row,
Phalanx on phalanx,
Cloud on cloud.
The violence.
Each cloud
Separate, yet together as an army.
Each
White against deep sky.
Each
Roaring, growling, barking violence.
As though armored,
Armed,
And in mighty struggle–siege of fortress.
The violence.
As each reached some invisible marker
It would,
In spite of its fearsome noise,
Disintegrate,
Slowly fade, never be.
The force of their might,
Created their oblivion.
The violence.
Is it that way with me?
My power sterilized
By my violence.
My
Pouting-shouting-posturing-fist-shaking rage,
Is it simply the evaporation of a cloud,
The stealing of living water
From a parched earth?
What then, is the power of not being violent?

Because this meditation is about paths, it might be helpful to get yourself on a path as a beginning for this meditation. Go for a walk. Walk briskly. Walk slowly. Let the notions of paths mull through your thoughts. Think of how many songs you have heard that are about paths or roads or about going somewhere. Think imaginatively about the beginning of a path, and about finishing a path. How do you feel? Is it a different feeling in you when you ended from when you began? What good are paths, to our world? What good is walking?

MORE NEXT WEEK: