Mindfulness

There is a doorway in the mind;

beware you who find it and step within.

It will lead you into dark labyrinths

of circles, dead ends and hidden turns.

In four dimensions it spirals

from giddy heights to unfathomed depths,

from before time to all eternity.

 

Pause a moment,

your hand upon the latch;

will you step within?

There will be no return, traveller,

to that shallow place which

seemed to be all there was.

Once through that door you will wander

a way unseen and unknown.

 

Others you will meet along the way,

those who have succumbed

and stepped through their own secret door.

They will walk a while in tandem

but do not cling to their company

for they will leave you

and you will mourn their passing.

 

For many miles you will walk alone

through storms, through nights as dark as hell,

with ghosts and horrors

as your midnight companions.

None can reach you on that path;

they can only stand and watch,

with arms you cannot see

stretched out in love.

 

Times you will drop to your knees

exhausted, unable to crawl another inch,

unable to raise your head;

unwilling to look ahead,

unable to turn back.

What will you then, traveller?

Will you question your sanity?

Will you regret your choice

as you stood on the threshhold?

 

Beware the secret paths of the mind, traveller,

there are waterless deserts within,

dense forests and raging torrents,

hidden wells of pain,

of tears and shame and guilt.

Knives will pierce your soul

and you will bleed.

 

Why would you lift the latch, traveller,

why step onto that path

that lasts through all eternity?

Have courage!

For those who dare, for those who  yearn,

who ask, who  seek, who knock,

there are rewards beyond belief.

Sunrise follows sunset

and day comes after night.

 

Comfort and blessings you will have, traveller,

oases of peace and calm,

days of warmth and sunlight,

nights of velvet moonshine;

a rare sharing of souls, arms quick to hold

and the strength of another to lean against.

And the path you will call your own

will ensnare you with promises of wonder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And so we come to Lent

Easter is the earliest it can be this year. And so, as soon as Candlemas was over, Ash Wednesday arrived….

And Lent is upon us, bringing the usual question: “what are you giving up for Lent this year?”

I have done my share of giving things up for Lent, some more successfully than others.

There was the year I gave up butter, eggs & milk. And my husband nobly said he would do the same. All there is to be said is never again!

And the year we gave up tea & coffee – and suffered migraine-like headaches & cramps for the first two weeks.

In recent years, I have stopped giving things up & have instead taken something on….

One year, I committed to reading the Bible – all of it. That didn’t quite work out.

More successfully, I agreed to do several hours gardening each week at a local retreat house. They benefitted from tidy borders & I found spending several hours in their lovely peaceful garden most conducive to quiet meditation.

Last year, to the great amusement of my non-church friends, I gave up church for Lent…

It started as a bit of a joke but the idea had a strange attraction. I did go to one or two services, when I was the altar server, and Palm Sunday & the Chrism Mass – but for the rest, I stayed home & spent time in prayer.

I found it a remarkably liberating experience. And, on pondering why that should be, I have decided that I do not care much for Lent.

I do not at all mind having seasons where reflection, quietness, amendment of life & waiting are prominent. Indeed one cannot celebrate all the time…

But I do not like the emphasis that the church seems to place on sin & guilt & shame. I do not like being told that I am “a miserable offender” & “not worthy to be called a child of God”.

I do not like the dirgy hymns or the sombre atmosphere; the bare church or that preoccupation with sin.

So much so that this year I am giving up….well, Lent actually…

At least, I am not keeping it in the church’s way.

It is right that we should remember our Lord’s journey to the cross. But we know the end and new beginning of the story…and so, we can follow in his footsteps knowing that we are indeed children of God, that we have been saved by his blood, that we are forgiven and loved – and we can celebrate that (but quietly, deeply & reflectively).

And that is what I will be doing over the next few weeks, spending time alone & silently, but not miserably….