19 April 2017

Excuse Me While I Unfold the Years

North and South Lake
The Sphinx on the Escarpment Trail - Southeastern Section

My earliest memory of holy—
a whole, sensual and spiritual
presence without boundaries—was upon
a rock—a boulder really—world-sized, high
and smooth enough that I had to lean on

arms braced behind to keep from sliding off
and in the vertigo of adjustment
in that instant of disorientation
my vision shifted and wonder replaced
my fear.  But I returned to earth.  And from
the descriptions of holiness given
to me then, I didn’t recognize it.

Holiness was located in buildings,
religion classes, objects, names, prayers
and language to memorize and repeat.
When did breath cling to those lessons?
I don’t remember when the word God first

lived for me, though I knew what I was s’posed
to feel.  I think I felt something shift once
in puppy love.  Poetry erupted.
But it wasn’t until protests against
the war that I integrated with night,
wasn’t until drumming with women ‘round
bonfires that I remembered my first boulder.

Holiness embraces physically—
oh yes—whether in dance or sitting still,
whether alone or in community,
whether on a proclaimed high holy day
or in moments of awareness.  It is.

Accessible. If busy-ness doesn’t
displace it and if I don’t misplace it.
Breath is holy.  Waking is holy and
touching is holy.  And—primed by pagan
ritual and desire for peace—I heard
God speak, finally, and met Jesus who
became a go-between for me.  A Way.

I call that way holy, delight to walk
in it intentionally, but accept
that much of the time I am not aware.
I also accept that God loves and holds
me even when I am inattentive.

Excuse me while I unfold sixty years.
I thought it would be easy to explain
holiness, but despite all that is said
and written about it in many faiths—
I know you have to experience it
yourself, oh yes, even in a mystic
inhale, catching your breath when it’s that real.

(April is International Poetry Month.)

My blog poems are rough drafts.   
Please respect my copyright. 
© 2017 Susan L. Chast


Sumana Roy said...

'Holiness embraces physically—' and I also believe that one has to experience it...Truth so poetically and most beautifully expressed..

Panchali said...

The phenomenology of 'holiness' is as diverse as human experience itself. For me, the sense of holiness arises from a consciousness of the spiritual aspect of human existence. Hence, ....'Holiness embraces physically—' Totally agree!! It has to be thought, felt, experienced and expressed in the nuances! Beautiful poem, Susan. Loved it, absolutely!

Therisa's World said...

Susan, for me, these days, which we observe, as holy, are ones branded with pain and grief. Whether, by my dad, or later, by my younger brother and his abusive behaviour towards, over the years.

Maude Lynn said...

This is such marvelous work, Susan. It was a pleasure to read.

indybev said...

Deep and thoughtful, beautifully written! It resonates with me.

Anonymous said...

I am a believer too. I believe we have different paths to the Lord. Thank you for sharing yours. The Arms are open.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is a glorious Read! I love your boulder moment. I had a similar moment, meditating on a mountain at dawn one Easter moment. I heard angelic singing and had a vision of the planet, blue and green......sigh. I especially love your fantastic last stanza.

Old Egg said...

How often we find God in the natural world rather than the proselytizing of priests. We should not be concerned we feel this way as we must search for God any way we can. What a great read this was Susan.

Mary said...

Susan, what a wonderful description of holiness. Yes, I do think we all learn what we are supposed to feel, but to really feel it physically, to really feel it with that 'mystic inhale' (no matter what the specifics of one's faith) is a glorious and miraculous thing! Sometimes it takes those 'sixty years' to figure it out! Blessings.

Frank Hubeny said...

I agree. Holiness is something you have to experience. I liked the line: "Holiness embraces physically".

Thotpurge said...

I think I totally relate to the boulder moment., feeling the wonderment, the truth, the infinite.... I couldn't find anything new to say, so didn't link up to the prompt but would love to share an earlier post on the topic.. https://phantomroad.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/08-oct-2016/
Almost impossible to describe what is spiritual ..a very individual experience, I agree wholly.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

A lovely unfolding that kept me enthralled through every word. Although I think we do have to experience the mystery for ourselves, you shared your experiences in a palpable way to give us a strong sense of it.

rallentanda said...

I agree that mysticism is an important part of belief. It is an individual experience and an intimate communication with the Divine.It all takes a very long time to process so there may have been some value in those excruciatingly boring religion lessons after all:)
I don't think we are meant to understand all the things we are taught initially. It takes experience and boulder moments to make sense of it all when the puzzle pieces begin to fit. I enjoyed this poem enormously and also the prompt. Thank you.

Gillena Cox said...

Luv this aspect of holiness in your poem
"I also accept that God loves and holds
me even when I am inattentive."

Much love...

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Yes, holiness is hard to explain. And, yes, you have to experience it. Sadly, many do not.

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

indeed holiness is the experience of it in solitude and silence and in various circumstances..though days are ordained as holy and observed as such...thanks for sharing