Into Darkness We Must Go

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

I sit

The sea swirling around me

Awash and adrift in the torment of my soul.

Waves lash at this body

This ship

This aching thing on which I rely

And in which I dwell.

Clouds may cover the sun

But beyond the tempest of my pain

I know the sky is still blue.

Unrelenting

This storm and my sorrow

Cannot help but rise

And fall

But rise once more

Into a maleficent column

Like a beanstalk offering some sick promise

Of salvation

Of hope

Of dread

At the inhospitable unknown.

Twilight brings terror

Darkness brings a certain death.

Nevertheless into the dark I go,

Less of willingness

And more of choicelessness

And perhaps surrender.

But when I uncover my eyes

And dare to stare into the face

Of the demons before me

I see it.

In daylight it eluded me.

In tempest it remained hidden.

But now that I have plunged into darkness

It becomes quite clear.

The lighthouse.

For the Wild Ones who Are Never Happy

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

There are those among us who take life at face value.

But, there are also those of us who never seem to be satisfied with what is given; our thirst for understanding never slaked by the simplicity of what lies on the surface.

For we are the inappeasable ones who never cease digging for greater clarity, understanding, and depth. Life, we say, is but one great puzzle to be chipped away at, year after year, day after day, until once and for all we are surrendered into the great beyond.

Will we ever find our satisfaction, our nirvana, our bliss in having solved the great mystery? 

Probably not, because beyond this mystery lies another, and then another, and still another after. But it is our searching which quenches us just enough to keep looking for more. It is the teasing of achievement which tantalizes our hunger and precludes our complacency.

Sure, there is a simplicity and comfort to be found in acceptance and surrender. To float along the currents without seeking out their source is as honorable a way to live as any other. But it is not for us—not at all.

When we find ourselves confronted with a challenge, we solve it and keep right on walking, not onward to the next task, but deeper into the depths of the forest which stands before us, seeking out the answers to why and how.

Read the rest on Elephant Journal: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/11/to-those-who-are-never-happy/

The Winters of My Heart

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

I abhor the winter when it’s coming, begging every leaf of autumn to break its promise to God and remain on the tree forever.

But then the snows blanket my mountain town in newness, grace and quiet beauty, and I remember the true gifts that winter brings. 

Once we realize the reality of that which we fear, we often find it not quite so frightful after all.  Winter comes, and though I resist with every bone in my body, it settles gentle in my soul and lovingly urges me to look within and seek the acceptance of whatever is in the moment.

So I wonder, as I gaze out upon fields of virgin snow, how might I come to love the winters of my heart just as I so readily accept the winters of my land. 

How might I come to understand and appreciate the cold and distance which invariably creep into my relationships?  When my lover pulls away to tend to her own, or when a friend takes his leave, how might I settle my restless summer’s heart and lay peacefully in the warmth of my solitude?

When winter comes, I know summer will return, and nature handles her affairs with infinite grace.  So much cannot be said for my relationships, or at least I don’t believe so.  We are human, after all, and prone to bumbling.  But nonetheless, the sun will rise anew in the sky each morning, whether icy or warm, and the day will begin without my saying so.

So tonight I send this prayer to the river in hopes of learning something of the heart.

May I learn to trust the love I’ve known as thoroughly as I trust the seasons.  May I surrender into stillness when it arises, whether blown in on a winter’s gale or whispered from the lips of my beloved.  May my heart rest quietly in the knowing that spring always follows winter, and that love always follows solitude. 

May I come to love the winters of my heart just as I love the winters of my lands. 

When Chaos Reigns

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Let us melt into sleep and sweetness, your skin against mine.  The world around us rages on and tears at our ragged clothes like a gaunt, ravenous demon.  Perhaps this is the end times, or at least the trial of all were made of, come to determine who among us is strong of heart.

Through the night our souls venture far and wide, willing our wildness to return home amongst the pines and streams and mountains and beasts.  Your hand crawls through dusky covers and sheets and finds its place atop my chest.  You anchor me, and we travel together.  I may rouse, or you may roll over, but I rest easy knowing your heart is still wrapped around mine.

Sometimes our dreams are fitful, terrible things which pry us from comfort and deliver us unto fear.  Jolting between realms your gasp draws me near again and we find respite in legs that will not be satisfied unless tangled together.  Then there is the matter of our breath, which drops into rhythm as though conducted by some cosmic maestro pulling strings that make our bodies and hearts collide.   

Still, in the ashy dawn of another day without rest, you curl up next to me and we welcome our struggle together.  You climb on top of me, your legs and arms wrapping me up as tightly as mine wrap you.  Intimacy becomes our salvation and our safe passage unto tomorrow. 

Have I known you forever?  Certainly for as long as I’ve known you, you’ve felt familiar. 

Sometimes I try to imagine a life without you, and it’s not that the pain of such an image prevents me, but more that the universe simply isn’t written that way and so it cannot be seen.

Lifetimes pass as I trace the contours of your body, cresting each ridge and swallowing each valley with the vigor and vitality of a man who lives for adventure.  No mountain, no desert, no river nor sea could ever outshine the radiance of you.

When you rise from our bed to put the coffee on, your naked silhouette dancing through the gloom of an autumn morning, I watch you.  You joke that I can’t see you without my glasses, but I’m not looking with my eyes.

In the gaze of my heart you are beheld, and I savor every drop of the incredible energetic gravity you hold in my life.

Sometimes I like to watch you from a distance, as a hunter watching a fawn which draws from his hungry heart the slivers and shards of tenderness for all life which each man carries with him always.  I want to ravage you, but more than that I stand baffled because I cannot find adequate vessels through which to pump the blood of my love for you.  I came for the hunt, but found only the tears of rebirth, and still return home nourished. 

How many stories have been woven of this thread?  How many songs and how many poems have been birthed by those who have sipped of this holy water?  How many monuments have been erected for the sole purpose of channeling the power of love into something tangible so that the power of love itself does not consume its holder?

Empires fall for love.  Men and women die for it.  Life is created from it.  The world spins because of it.

And I live and breathe and walk and laugh and sing for it.

So even as the world sees chaos reign and our wilderness burns, know that our house will not fall.  As the chains of this life bind us to suffering, I will still ravage you and savor your ravaging of me.  As the trials we face test even our last reserves of strength, I will always hold the strength to carry you in my heart, and to hold you in my arms.

We will not be undone, for we are bound by life itself. Against these bonds I will never fight.

If I Don’t Make You Angry

Photo by Allan Filipe Santos Dias on Unsplash

If I do not make you angry

then you do not love me.

Never

not in the entire history of the sea

has there been a sailor

who has not spewed vitriol

at the very waves he loves so.

Never

has there been a rider

who did not swear in anger

at his horse

to which he owes his life.

And so it is,

Beloved,

that love deepens our hearts

indiscriminately. 

There are no feelings

more or less holy

in the eyes of Love.

It is our duty to feel

and should we attempt to shirk

this sacred responsibility

Love will certainly draw forth

from the depths of our being

all of the requisite emotions

in order to craft a life well-lived.

So I say, if I do not make you angry

at least once in a while

then you do not love me.

A Love That Won’t Stand Down

Here we are at last, Beloved,

vulnerable and naked atop this mountain

as from all directions at once

the wind whips faceless thunderhead clouds

into frightful, fearsome foes.

We’ve been climbing for lifetimes,

flying on wings of solar rays and starshine

bobbing ever-upward

buoyant amidst the affectionate collision

we can’t seem to avoid.

So here we are at last, my dear,

and I can’t help but chuckle

that our heights atop this mountain

hard-won and harrowing

are the very same which have delivered us

to such perilous exposure.

Standing tall, but surrounded

attuned to our weakness, but also grounded,

we are left with nowhere to climb

no shelter to be found

and seemingly nowhere to go

but down.

But this is not how our story ends.

An uncommon greatness awaits us.

The wind herself whispered me this truth.

So climb into the shelter of my chest.

Find these ribcage rafters strong and spacious.

The drum of my heart your reminder

that I am still fighting.

Reach into my arms and become my embrace.

Feel the ecstasy my hands know so well as they

wander every peak and valley of your body’s mountains.

Take refuge in this throat from which

my songs for you find their voice.

Drift to sleep awash in the melodies

that breathe wind beneath my wings.

As this tempest rages and our footing begins to crumble

dive into my body where we will both be safe.

Slip into my skin as you do every night

as we lay down to sleep

and find my fortitude

purpose-built for loving you.

Here we are at last, Beloved,

I feel us taking flight.

If ever God was on our side

tonight would be that night.

These storms have come to measure us

against the greatness we are owed.

On only those who measure up

will greatness be bestowed.

And as we fly ever upwards

and out across the vast landscapes

of all we’ve overcome,

we find the wild winds themselves

have decided:

We are worth their wailing.

So they scream towards the sky

and tousle our feathers

making easy work of soaring.

As we, the wind and the wilderness

grin devilishly at the glorious providence

of a love that won’t stand down.

Photo by Leonardo Yip on Unsplash

Beneath Bashful Bloodied Skies

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

These mountains,

the Sangres,

standing tall and unabashed,

the remnants of a page ripped from God’s novel.

We sit in its wake

wondering of which of these unknowable secrets

we’ve been robbed.

Above, the clouds are the blood of our sins

drop-dropped into the ocean of heaven

drawing us in, such that we can’t look away.

Golden embers dust these peaks and

sparrows feast on sparks

as darkness sounds its final warning.

And then, like the color draining

from a fast-dying day,

we are left amidst the pallor

of a world that just keeps turning.

Features fade into obscurity

and our marvel melds with meaningless majesty.

An offering of our love

swept downstream

and consumed with thankless irreverence.

This world is larger than we.

Our odes console our restless souls far more

than they honor the subjects of our fascination.

So quietly we weep,

enshrined and imprisoned by our hopeless humanity

while the wolves run free

and the elk die gracefully

beneath bashful, bloodied skies.

Finding Joy in the Little Things

It’s 89 degrees on the sixteenth day of June.

The chair I’m sitting in is turquoise but it’s as warm as if it were flat black. The sun paints long, summer shadows against the pavers of the coffee shop patio at which I’ve stationed myself and the air is still enough that breeze seems but a myth. Still, the long grass and leafy growth known so well by the Heart of Summer find it within themselves to dance a quiet celebration.

I’m sweating just sitting here, but maybe it’s just the necessary perspiration of cleansing the day from my tired body. The heat is welcomed after what felt like an endless winter.

The chocolate I bought at the counter, along with my kombucha, has already melted into a puddle on the open, silver wrapper. It’s okay. Manners be damned, I lick the whole damn thing with all the abandon of childhood with my shame sitting silenced in the corner where it belongs. I feel the sweetness wash over me and the instant kick of caffeine and it’s good. So good.

Summer has always been the sticky, sweet puddles of joy mixed with the insufferable heat of a sun dancing too close to its partner. 

[…]

Read the whole piece on Medium.

Different Languages

Let’s talk about sex for a moment. No. That’s not holy enough. The word “sex” doesn’t do it justice. Let’s talk about fucking. Let’s talk about making love. Let’s talk about the transcendent union of bodies hell-bent on collision amidst a tempest of sweat and passion.

I hear so many people complain about their lackluster sex lives. The number of women who have expressed their disbelief that sex could be anything other than the utilitarian expression of selfish lust outnumbers the fingers on the hands of my entire extended family.

And the number of men I’ve heard speak with equal parts exasperation, defeat and genuine perplexity of the ways in which his woman expects him to read her mind is equally staggering.

In my years of loving, which have been interlaced with reading, writing and generally living a sickeningly romantic life, no single work has been more transformative in my view of the world – and in this case carnal love – than the work of Paulo Coelho.

Dusted throughout his volumes are love stories from his hand to the Soul of the World – that eternal soul from whence everything comes and to which everything will return. From it we are delivered the messages sent in hopes of showing us the way to our heart’s truest desires.

But it’s not this hopefulness, nor the romantic personification of a force greater than ourselves, that has taught me about the deep, satisfying love I’ve come to know.

No, it’s a simple line nestled in the middle of what I believe to be his greatest work, The Alchemist, which reads, “The world speaks in many languages.”

But here he’s not merely praising the vast linguistic diversity of the world’s people, communicating their deepest and most shallow truths through the employment of countless languages and dialects.

No, in this statement, a thought from within the observant host of the story’s protagonist, Santiago, Coelho is speaking of the non-human communications which fly around us all the time, which few of us ever notice.

He’s talking about how the groan of a camel can suddenly come to signal a raid from warring tribes. How the desert can transform the experience of a man from one of taking water and life for granted to holding those very same things in deep and utter reverence.

But how does that intersect with love-making? It’s everything. To me this opened my eyes to the incredible variability present amongst our own modes of communication.

In essence, it allowed me to release my desperate hold on verbal language to tell me what I needed to know. And in this surrender of beginning to learn other languages – in this acceptance – I began to notice my teachers everywhere.

The plants in my bedroom communicate their needs through the appearance of their soil and leaves. So why should my lovers not also tell me what they need through the appearance of their skin, or the posturing of their bodies.

The smell in the wind and the force with which it passes by my face can tell me a great deal about the weather blowing in across the mountains I’ve come to call home. So why, then, should my lover not also tell me about her internal, emotional weather, through the scent of her womanhood and the force with which she presses back against me.

And if the food I eat can tell me whether it is safe to ingest just by the way it tastes, then should I not be able to also determine my woman’s state of trust by the taste of her lips?

But we’re never taught these things. Even the most progressive sex education tells us nothing about making love. No, instead, our ‘sex education’ is reduced to a mechanical explanation of a wholly spiritual endeavor, and we are told – at least now – to honor consent. But that’s where it ends.

And while consent is of pivotal importance and I in no way mean to undermine the critical necessity of consent between adults of sound mind and body (like, don’t fuck drunk people, right?) there are layers of consent which aught to be taught more expressly.

You wouldn’t be hard pressed to find a woman who’s consented to sex with a man only to have him completely fail to honor the subtle consent of her body to proceed at a mutually-enjoyable pace.

So what I teach to people who ask me about such things is this: Passionate love-making is born in trust, it grows in safety and compassionate attentiveness, and it blooms when both lovers abandon the need for verbal language in favor of the limitless potential of carnal communion.

But here’s the other part. This isn’t something you can read once and do immediately. It takes courage to translate the non-verbal into real-life, high-stakes conversations about love and lust and fear and insecurity and weakness and trauma. Trauma.

This doesn’t require you to heal your trauma overnight, but it demands that you be brave enough to step up and say “This trauma is going to impact our love together. But maybe if you see it and love me anyway, and if you tread carefully through my garden, I can begin to release some of its hold on me.”

Because we are not whole in spite of our trauma, we are whole because of it. And though it has no place in our most intimate moments, least of all when we are surrendered to the crashing waves of passionate fucking, it is always there anyway. So what that means is that to really reach into the depths of orgasmic bliss and that glorious afterglow – to realize the full capability of your body to leverage passion to deliver you unto your truest self – both lovers have to be safe enough to see that demon in the corner and continue to make unencumbered, wild love anyway.

So I believe it’s up to all of us to change the face of sex for the better. Because better is out there, and we’re doing ourselves a tragic disservice by ignoring it.

And I believe the way we can all do that is to tune into the innumerable languages spoken in the bedroom, and in the rest of our lives. We need to commit to learning ourselves, first and foremost, but we also need to commit to really learning our lovers.

Men, soften yourself (not that part) and shut off your analytical brain for long enough to recognize the cues she’s giving you with her body. Touch her everywhere with your fingers before you ever undress. But even before that, talk with her about what moves you, and learn what moves her. Because passion knows not the difference between the chills she gets when she’s listening to music and the arch in her back in the throws of pleasure. In learning her you will learn how to love her, so don’t skip that step. And for god’s sake, when she’s ready, when she has invited you, ravage her, not in a blind rage, but rather in a transcendent passion that consumes you both completely.

And Women, before you sleep with a man, establish that he’s worthy of your trust, because if he’s not, you’ll never have fulfilling sex. He might fuck you well and satisfy for a moment the part of you that believes you’re only worthy when you’re in bed, but you will find the emptiness returns with a vengeance when he inevitably leaves. No, if you’re going to open to him in your most vulnerable places, bestowing upon him the opportunity to love a woman well – something no man should take lightly – then you should first be damn sure he’s deserving of such things. And I know… discernment takes courage. But you are stronger than you know and wiser than you allow yourself to believe in matters of intuition. So learn to trust the language of your body so you can speak it loudly enough for his entry-level understanding of women to take notice.

This is what I’ve learned of love, and it has served me well. May you find your forests of physicality ripe with the fruit of well-earned pleasure.

Mirror

When you look in the mirror, I’m almost certain you’re seeing through old eyes. I hear you talking about the person who stares back, but she doesn’t sound anything like the woman I love.

You say she’s soft, she’s emotional, she’s too much.

You bite your tongue when you catch a glimpse of something worth loving.

You speak of her in a voice that belongs more to your wounds than your heart.

That false voice bestowed upon you against your will by decades of wounded soldiers, all marching blindly towards the light which will kill them without glory and without honor.

But when I look at you, I see someone much different than the person you’ve profiled.

When I see you, I think to myself, here’s a real human, with real life experiences, real wounds, real trauma, real pain, real struggle, real disappointment. And somehow, in spite of all that, she’s still so capable of love, so clear and clever and fluent in the language of the world, and so deeply in touch with God.

She’s messy – she’s a mess. But damn if she isn’t incredible.

You are a lot, my dear, but you will never be too much.

And let’s talk about your body. Your body is perfect, because it’s yours, and you’re still alive, and that’s it’s purpose. Your body is not here for the visual pleasure of a million and one people you’ll never know.

Your body is not here for the bliss unto which it delivers us in our love-making.

Your body is here to give life to the incredible event that is you, so that you can be love, give love and be loved.

Think about that – you are an unfathomable combination of systems and cells and electrical impulses, all conspiring for the sole purpose of creating space for your experience in a busy world.

What’s not to love. What about the miracle of you deserves even a shred of doubt?

Do not reproach yourself for the intensity of your fire.

Instead, be sure to stoke your coals such that not even the most torrential downpour can lay waste to your passion.