Saturday, March 05, 2005

Five Times Into the Prayer

Play the podcast.

This poem was inspired by medieval mystics, religious architecture, and the life and times of Mary Marshall Dyer.


Five times into the prayer
I begin to understand the form;
words echoing, smooth domed ceiling
a voice reverberating
echo chamber of reality
this tight, closed space;
I roll out the carpet,
I bow my head --
will today be the day I finally forgive myself?
Tears dripping softly onto the surface
I'm tired of too many failed attempts,
too many dark nights of the soul.
I understand nothing yet; I must persevere;
there is no short-cut
the moon is a sharp sliver tonight
I look upward, think of Julian of Norwich
and other mystics --
A lifetime from here, someone
locks herself away to silence, seclusion, prayer.
I am not shocked.
I understand her thought:
"The mind must be quiet to communicate with you."
The outside world seems peculiar, sad, pointless --
can we ever transcend the space of our own consciousness?
Manipulation is a threadbare cruelty.
Commitment is a kindness one gives to oneself.
The prayer mat glides me
softly toward a place I've never been;
five times into the prayer
a face appears to me,
bathed in joy. I do not recognize it.
I lean forward.
My face touches the wool.
My body aches for forgiveness.
Five times into the prayer
I begin to understand
words take shape
the name is something I am starting to see
converted into lines
intricate patterns like iron
wrought into gates and entries
calligraphy is a barrier and a gateway
iron wrought by fire, but cooled by pure
sweet water; patterns forming
locks and labyrinths
words requiring breath
the breath in me guides me;
the words forming lines across lines
maps of time not place
I breathe. I pray.
I hear the soft words
and then echoes that repeat
endlessly, limited only
by my ability to hear.
Five times into the prayer,
but five thousand time into the echo
the carpet thick and soft against my knees
I am curled up alone here, but
a higher power is at my side, whispering
guidance & guiding me in it,
a place of eternal echoes,
the architecture of transcendence
a window, or at least,
a hope.

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