11. [En]countering Priesthood

From the neural level of potential for ecstatic valuing, where deep dreams and mystic awareness and the energy of selfhood all find their basis, must also come the potency for living out both the priesthood of baptism and the priesthood of ordination. Our parish priest, with his homespun but subtle homilies, full of stories exactly in touch with parishioners’ moments and needs, his kindly ways, his hearing of confession like a guardian angel always on our side–he must be one in a thousand. What his life costs him he never says. We see it always at the consecration when he lifts the chalice, in his eyes and his soft gestures. The cost is very high. He suffers anxiety attacks. How can we help? Somehow, outside of liturgy and sacrament, there’s a line for him between ‘parishioners & their affairs’ and ‘refuge & relaxation for me’–we’re on the wrong side of it to help much. He’s afflicted by a notion that many Catholics have. People think priests and religious are supposed to float always four feet off the ground and never take a pee.

Why is the priesthood of ordination so different from the priesthood of baptism? The second is improvisational, the first more fixedly coded. The second leaves us on a loose tether, free to play at different subject positions and talk their talk, able to gyrate at different angles of self-actualization in the love of Christ. The first imposes, on the one called, the full violence of the institution.

Cultural theorists say that institutions–whether a hospital, a church, university, post office, or whatever–they typically enact a kind of force or violence on their practitioners, especially the leaders. The institution calls someone into feeling a certain way, into a certain subjectivity–as professor, as nurse, priest, or whatever. The person comes to feel the way that is right and useful for someone in that position to feel. He or she is ‘subjected’ to that role, pressed into it at a high psychic cost, but also thereby becomes a ‘subject’ of a certain voice, gains new forms of power, energy, agency. Then the task is to invent counter-strategies, so that one can stand up to, as well as stand up for, the institution. So one can let its energy flow into life-enabling rather than destructive living of its patterns. For our church, a very old and violent institution–also one with the stored libidinal riches of countless practitioners of its sacraments–someone in ordained priesthood will need all possible helps to maintain such a balance. When none but the rarest can walk the tightrope, and that often with agony, it is time for reform.

Because of the priest shortage in many regions worldwide, priests are currently being loaned out from Africa and elsewhere (the Irish supply having dried up)—the Vatican orders a sort of global busing, to meet the arguments and the need. Recently at a Newman Center, the young priest Tongele from Nigeria, on loan for five years, was giving his homily on the lectern platform. Midway, he invited up the former co-director of the Newman center, a nun who was visiting for the day. He said earlier workers had planted what he was now only watering. He had her stand, first beside him, then on her own, to offer her reflections as the second half of the homily. She told of her time since being fired from her job here because the bishop had decided that only a priest should run Newman. Afterwards Tongele was saying the consecration in his rich voice, with the sun coming through the window behind him and the congregation’s small children gathered around the altar. As he held up the large white circular host. It reflected intense sunlight onto his purple vestment, and from there up onto his eager face, giving it a violet sheen over deep black. The kids were wide-eyed, and everyone concelebrated in silence.

In many parts of the world, in the midst of changing views of priesthood, small jokes of the Holy Spirit are happening. When the Anglican church began ordaining women, a contingent of male priests in protest converted to Roman Catholicism and, complete with wives and children, are continuing their calling as catholic (and Catholic) priests. This was always possible for converts, by canon law, but rare. “Huh,” say the other British priests, “why can they be married and we can’t?” Through just such local wrinkles, wrinkles in time, priesthood will slowly change, until one day a pope will realize it has happened, and say something to confirm it.

Sexual renunciation has different meanings according to time and place, being as culture-specific as anything else. In current wealthy societies it does not carry value, while in peasant and capital-accumulative societies it apparently still does–the priest there is revered, gets compensating perks and admiration, his renunciation being seen as, in itself, a spiritual power. Here, no matter how warm and vital his relationship with his parish, he must carry everyone’s trouble, be dumped on by foolishness, then go home to an empty apartment, a t.v. dinner, and a dirty toilet with only himself to clean it. The pope rides atop all popery, and sees that many Catholics in some cultures would not be ready for a diversified priesthood. Opening it out into various practices will happen slowly.

Of course, some people have a calling to celibacy. It’s a particular psychic economy of making one’s very body an ideal, as if the carburetor of the metabolism is set so that all energy goes straight into engaged activity, quiet or intense, depending on the person’s temperament. A film of Mother Theresa shows her training novices, her eyes alight, shaking a young woman by the shoulders, repeating, “You must only love Jesus and do his work. Only love Jesus.” Shake. “Only love Jesus. ” Shake, shake. All that intensity, all that drive. Night and day only her calling, her libido dispensed entirely into it. But such “eunuchs made eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom” are few–that call is for those who have ears to hear, Jesus said. Many people have a call to priesthood and pastoring, but no call to celibacy.

St. Paul was not that kind of eunuch but a man who suffered a “thorn” in the flesh, he said. Perhaps in his case, through his suffering, he was led to close the gap between Jew and Greek and between slave and master. He discovered a theology of Christ on the cross as cross-cultural. This was shocking for his time. Paul combined ‘Zeus the savior’ and God the lawgiver in the ultimate love-sacrifice. (Paul’s Letter to Philemon is a telling cultural document, saying that the runaway slave Onesimus, whom he now dearly loves, has been converted, and asking that Onesimus be received by his master as a brother in Christ, that he be forgiven and not whipped, as he returns to his slave duties.) Besides slave – master and Jew – Greek, Paul declared that he had also achieved a third fusion–of male and female–though he only partly did so. How did it come about? In the economy of his own psyche and libido, he became the staging place for these high-energy cultural inventions. It was done at an agonizing cost of reinstating, in even more deadly form, another dichotomy—homosexual – heterosexual. He called homosexuality not so much a sin as a punishment of God for human sin. To enforce his new order of things, Paul thundered that all and only God was decreeing the new dispensation he taught, that He was calling only certain elect, predestined people into it.

We need not continue Paul’s particular negotiation between the Hebrew denunciation of homosexuality and the Greek idealizing of it. That has seen its day. Rather, our call is to carry on his vision of the all-encompassing love of God, from which “neither things present nor things to come nor anything else in all creation” can separate us–his view of the cross as cross-cultural, as the power of God’s love for everyone, making peace between “those who are near and those far off”–between all who are estranged by difference and fear. And we must carry that peace into priesthood just as into the whole of the church.

If we use our resources to work and talk, slowly and patiently, to start new conversations about different ways of being church, to allay old fears, to forge new recognitions, we can begin to leave behind twelve hundred years of classification violence, that has crushed so many people’s spirits, driving them to misery and hypocrisy. And then homophobia and forced celibacy can go the way of slavery and stoning. And the call to lift the chalice can begin to be for everyone who sees the throne high and lifted up, and the cherubim of Isaiah singing “Holy, holy,” and finds the tongs with hot coals being brought, to burn and cleanse one’s unclean lips–Jew or Greek, ‘slave’ or ‘free’ (translate, white or of color), male or female, gay or straight.

We may not live to see this day. But by faith Abraham believed the offspring from his post-menopausal wife would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, though he did not get to see them. By faith Moses believed his people would reach the promised land, though he died short of it himself. By faith (says the author of Hebrews, doing his amazing hero catalogue) Rahab the ‘harlot’ concealed the scouts who were preparing the chosen people’s entry to the ‘promised land,’ though she could not know what their presence would bring. And by faith Jesus died asking why he had been abandoned–but is with us now, most present of presences. Let’s say we’ll cheer among the cloud of witnesses whenever the day comes at last.


Where a south-flowing river
Leaves mountain rapids
And issues into spreading valleys
Of grains and grapevines, row by row,
Field by field, waving, curling,
What if one gray-green morning
With side-long sunlight coursing down from canyons,
The towns awoke to something strange?
What if the restless first man up
Looked out and saw on street corners
A plethora of servers,
Cassocked and chanting,
Lovers of us all,
Lifting up fresh baked loaves
And deep red juice,
In offering?

And what if people shuffled out surprised,
Rubbing their eyes,
Wearing jeans or nightshirts
Or mini-skirts,
And listened as to street guitarists.
And some would reach and take the offered boon
While others take it in with eyes
Wide yet unalarmed?
And what if the cassocked ones
Would sing in tones that flowed
From each one’s deep well spring
And their colors and voices were myriad,
Hair long and short, black, yellow, gray or ringleted,
Bodies male or female, plump or bony,
Hands with rings or unadorned,
Their vestments floral, embroidered, checkered, or yellow polka-dotted?
And what if in this whole earth valley
The roadsides were filled with honeysuckle
And wild lupines seeding down from the hills
As waters flow to the sea?

And what if the stones had no need To cry out,
For in all the land
No one forbade any chanters to chant
And lift up their bounty aloft.

12. He Has Gone Out Ahead of Us

We no longer think of “heaven” as “out there” among the high stars. In a sermon for Ascension Day, a German pastor said that nowadays, instead of thinking of Christ as having risen from the earth “up” into the sky (a sign from an outmoded worldview), we may say that he has gone out before us into the future. From there he shines and draws. “And I if I am lifted up will draw all people to myself.” This is not a power move, but a reaching out toward a corresponding gesture of reaching, one that was already in place to be the converse of this one, or its complement. As early Christians may in a sense have been reaching forward to us, we may reach back and reawaken their spirituality.

The divine may be spread along time rather than some “where” in space–or rather, we need to think of space-time plus value: four dimensions plus a fifth. That is, the realm of matter-energy constantly generates value, when meaning is called out of it, and sent back into it. It’s hard to think in five or even four dimensions: up, down, back, time-line, and value-line. Computers do it. Pulsing hypercubes and rhombozoids twist, collapse into themselves, and reunfold. Only so do they exist. Likewise we need to think of meaning–the kind of meaning that is valuing, yes-saying, energizing of what deeply matters, the level where a person plugs into community—we need to think of that as the fifth dimension. Then the ancient neoplatonic universe of St. Augustine and earlier people can still have meaning.

If we let ourselves imagine such expanded perception, we can still feel the universe as emanation-rapture-and-return. Plato and neoplatonism wrote a joy world, and the Ptolemaic world view was the shape of it. Love was said to emanate down from the highest stars, through more stars and planets in rapturous turning, down to human bodies in rapture for the love of beauty, then back up through the force lines of their desire for higher beauty, finally back to that highest God-level of ultimate intelligibility. Now instead, we can see the webs of metaphor and other forms of meaning–vastly spun out ramifications–as a joy world within space-time, rather than only within space. So the systole and diastole of divine love surges, not down and up, but out and backward, then in and forward. Inward from the value potential in matter into the energized consciousness of sentient beings, which generates meaning, then back outward again into matter and potentiality.

Paul Tillich defined God as ultimate valuing. Faith stretches for that. Believers don’t content themselves with being touched by the flow of divine life only now and then–a moment when we soar with music, a rare sense of awe at some oceanic power, a moment of amazement at someone’s goodness. Instead of sensing the divine only in rare moments, we can open ourselves to liturgy and faith community, and ask for it. Then the joy universe appears in the sequencing of our personal time as communal time, time in a flow of many flows of other people, rippling through and off of each other. And our words can throw their emotions and metaphors around them as shapes–the way children play ‘throw the statue.’ One child who is “it” whirls each other child around by the arms until, released, the one thrown falls down into some odd position on the ground, which he or she must hold, unmoving, until that round of the game is done. Thus we make a world of saved and saving time in community, playing out each other’s worlds of desired beauty. When we think of the neoplatonic joy world this way, its shape corresponds to something about our own minds: the mind’s internally seen world of valuing, of making things count or matter. It’s the look of the universe when seen as a place of desire fulfilled.

Once I dreamed of being held in divine community. The mythographer Carl Jung saw images of the self in certain patterns he called archetypes, two of these being the house, and the child. I’m not much of a Jungian. I recognize my inner life better in more recent analytic theory. But this seems to have been a Jungian dream. I’d been reading him when I had it.

I was in a room with several people in various groupings around me. I was holding a baby and telling him that he was wonderful, feeling the love one does with babies. Then he wiggled and pushed to get down and play. I put him on the floor and began attending to a group of people. After a bit I realized I couldn’t see the baby. I looked in the next room and he wasn’t there. Feeling anxious I went on to a third room. Each room was semi-crowded with people talking and doing things. In the next one were some men speaking Spanish. I was uneasy about trying to talk to them but interrupted one group and asked in English if they’d seen a baby crawling here. One turned to me. He was handsome, with a black moustache, and wearing jeans. He said they hadn’t seen him but not to worry, if they did, they’d watch him till I came back (or words to that effect, I’m not sure in what language). He returned to his conversation.

I went on to further rooms, getting more and more anxious. The people’s clothes and languages got stranger. I felt sure I couldn’t talk to them. I began to feel disoriented, and too tired and discouraged to look anymore. Then it occurred to me that wherever the baby crawled, he couldn’t get out of this house. I retraced my steps and got back to the room where I’d started. My feeling was that some way he would turn up again. I went back, it seemed, to the group of people I’d been talking with.

Does such dream work get in touch with whatever is ‘out there’ in the larger networks of personing, beyond the self? This seems to be what the mystics perceive. If I look for a track, along and beyond this dream’s motion of impetus, I see a vision, a picture of rest and joy, one that I hope can be fully entered into.

Then I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe, and language; they were . . . dressed in white robes and holding palms. They shouted in a loud voice, ‘Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four living creatures, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads . . . . These are the people who have been through the great trial; they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb. The One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; sun and scorching wind will never plague them, because the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne will be their shepherd and will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Book of Revelation)

Rain and Song

Rain and Song
Blue finches fling song
At the late blue light
That stretches under rain, now drifting southward.
Their chirrup pulses
Opening off water droplets,
Shape up early night
Around a courtyard made
Of fieldstones and half-timbered houses–
Chirrup surges
Breaking in ripples with my thought
Against the walls.

My wish to utter tones but quietly uptuned
Brought only dead
No ridings of vibrato into last light,
No ‘you’ or ‘me’ but only ‘They’ or ‘it’ muffled,

Birds, you do not shrink if I whistle out to
Nor fly
But answer when I imitate
Your full high all outpourings,
Nor grieve but weave me in
To your song.

Carry me off somewhere on overtones.

13. Sun and Gold

The book of Wisdom presents the Spirit of God in a female form as wisdom, Sophia the “daughter of God,” and gives a wonderful list of her powers. Later, Paul also teaches about the Spirit of God or “paraclete”–he says the Spirit aids memory, empowers living of non-violent justice, groans with people in their weakness and need, shows them what to hope for, and bears “fruits” in their lives. Whether Paul himself thought of this Spirit as male or female is not known. But when his teachings were later formalized into the doctrine of the trinity, the paraclete was seen as simply male–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A sentient being that ‘bears fruit’ sounds female, and in fact the traits Paul lists in Galatians as fruits of the Spirit are qualities coded in most cultures as feminine rather than masculine. But it seems that many in the list for Sophia, the “daughter of God,” are usually coded masculine. Shall we play with this irony?

“The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustingness, gentleness, and self-control–no law can touch such things as these” (Gal. 5:22-23). Something that bears this fruit not only sounds female, it could even sound a little like Virginia Woolf’s ‘angel in the house,’ that Victorian mother stereotype that she throttled because it would mess with her pen every time she started to write about sex. Of course, Paul needed an ideal of inspiration that wouldn’t offend against Roman law, as some aspects of his movement did, so he wanted something for a sensibility trained in stoicism. He portrayed the Spirit as the power of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and the opposite of something very bodily: “If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another.” Instead, he says, grow these spirit fruits. It’s another wonderful list, and I want to live it without thwarting jouissance—the body’s joy. Too tall an order?

As Sophia, the Spirit evokes a different list. She is “intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd, irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all spirits” (Wisdom 7:22-23). A good list for an administrative job description? Does it add up to interpersonal skills? Being mobile, incisive, lucid, invulnerable, shrewd, penetrating, dependable, and almighty could sound like an agenda for a male candidate. Yet this is the “daughter” of God. The other, the Pauline view is God as the supposedly male paraclete, the force of love, emotion, and affect within believers–but sounding rather like a squabble-settling mother. If the scriptures invert their own cultural gender codes like this, can we achieve much clear patterning with the ones available now?

At a meeting I attended of English Department administrators, a group talked about how we might transform the university if we had a cry room for women administrators, with padded walls, for the impossible moments. One of the three men at the table said, in all earnestness, “Wait, why only for women? We need it too!” Of course, aren’t there moments when someone, by staying calm, saves the day? Someone in a low, calm voice talks bureaucratese a while, recalls precedents, spins hypothetical options, and meanwhile people calm down and some way forward occurs to someone. Aren’t order and self-control highly valuable much of the time? Should we claim them for femaleness rather than, possibly, seeing them as masculinist repression of body and spirit? Maybe the effort to gender-code such traits is useless, but for many men, when they ‘get real,’ they want women to have the gentleness, kindness, patience and self-control, while they claim the incisiveness, invulnerability, irresistibility, beneficence, and almightiness.

Here’s a possible habit that, whether it’s feminine or what, is self-controlled. In talking about people not present whom you and your listeners know, try always talking about them as if they were present. That is, try to speak about them in terms they themselves would find tolerable or at least accessible–try to avoid saying things about them that one wouldn’t say to them if given the right occasion, even if one might then speak more slowly and carefully. (For me, this doesn’t mean never saying anything ‘not nice’ since I’m rather blunt at times.) It is a kind of second-personing of one’s whole community. Of course waging a direct campaign with someone is second-personing too–’hey you, come here and duke it out, till we can figure out what’s wrong between us!’–though if the person hides you’re out of luck. These practices can be taxing and not always possible. They seem to carry an emotional cost similar to that of sexual self-denial, though lesser in degree. That is, ridiculing and dismissing someone not present can be very satisfying, even at times richly deserved by the party. But refraining from it also spares one, to the extent it is achieved, some other costs: petty feuds, bickering, scorn, vulnerability, the pettiness of gossip. There seems to be an economy of “bodily” urges in relation to each other. Satisfy some, you may have to suppress–or be robbed of–the satisfaction of others

What is the good of our passion and aggression, so much maligned in most of the world religions? Rosemary Haughton’s idea in The Passionate God is that passionate love fuels “breakthroughs” at points of human weakness, from the sphere of the divine to that of affect and consciousness. She calls these “exchanges of life,” and fully entering them is her definition of goodness–human and divine. By the same token, “refusal of exchange” is evil. This is intriguing, but how can one base any accounting on it? Since there are various passionate exchanges of life possible in anyone’s immediate scene but one can’t fully enter all (or even many) of them, how can such refusal be evil? Her concept becomes more accessible when she talks about tenderness as opposed to fear (p. 115), and talks, instead of ‘refusal,’ about false exchanges, ones that block the divine. She says the irony of how we live out the divine goodness through exchanges of life is that the very ability we have for entering them in a freedom of love, or conscious and cultivated mutuality–that power is the same one that, if turned to grasping and domination, becomes evil. This would mean that good love will be something one stands ready to lose, whatever the cost. And good power as well. Those two potent equivalents, like matter and energy, are explosive when being transformed into each other, much to be scanned and questioned when being thus traded, as yet they will commonly be. One can give up love or power, or both, sometimes. But not creativity. There most incisively we meet the Spirit. For that one should seek and persist, with the steadfastness of Sophia.

A friend, afraid before surgery, said that religion seems to be about learning to love and learning to die–two sides of the same coin. For her, the gold of the God-experience came sometimes in the light spread over sun-covered hills of soft-white wheat. Religion is about the goodness of God, which stays as open-ended as love and as sure as death—a “flame of Yahweh,” as the Song of Solomon says. How can one wrap thoughts around so vastly diverse a concept as the divine goodness? The Holy Spirit is the divine goodness come into our emotive life as fire and breath, not to be suppressed. The Spirit is also like the wind, moving where it will.

Among the Spirit’s affects and effects, we need to suppose some quality of a blank term, even though we can name some of the wonders that we “taste and see” in “the goodness of the Lord.” We can name the blessed gifts of mothering, the generative song of sex and creativity, and the messianic signs of power, whereby “The hungry are fed, the sick healed, prisoners released, and the good news preached to the poor”–just some of the bounties. But the blank cipher quality would be a participator function in the Spirit, in Sophia–as in a hypertext where the user enters responses that become part of the text. It would be so because value needs to touch the divine goodness through participation–and also because each value system will have its own concreteness. There’s a range of variation in culturally differing senses of ‘the good.’ And “God is not without witness in any nation.” The Spirit always enters ‘exchanges of life’ with us.

It seems telling that faithfulness is not among Paul’s traits inspired in believers by the Paraclete, though mentioned in a sense as “steadfastness” for the Sophia of Wisdom. The Spirit is God-present, God filling some utterly present moment for some person or group, a moment of unhindered flow of self-giving—plenitude, the theorists call it, and “surplus of signified.” Promises and laws are, by contrast, a constraint on present moments, at once from their past and their future. Yet the promises of God are a certain kind of logion–the kind that helps us claim, or enter into, the divine goodness–a participator function: “I will not forget you”; “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted”; “Though the mountains may fall, the love of the Lord will stand.” So promise-keeping is part of imitatio Christi.

Promise-keeping, though, can sometimes mean being caught in a dead version of oneself, a version no longer sustaining, for oneself or others. It might mean a “refusal of exchange.” Since we are such brief pulses of growth and light, like the grass that withers in a day, or harvested wheat, our promise-keeping is brief at best, in great contrast to the long faithfulness of God. Is the main thing, then, to be broken and received like grains of wheat falling to the ground? Certainly, a major variant in different cultures is how much weight is given to continuity vs. to change and renewal. At any rate, wherever faithfulness may come into righteousness, it has meaning only as a relational term. Some ‘present’ time is conditioned by its past and future: upholding bargains, maintaining growth–everything the messianic signs do for sustaining community–requires some measure of continuity. Change has its costs; so does continuity. Divine life balances them.

Cultivating faithfulness in relationships to the extent that one is allowed opportunity for it–this would be Haughton’s good exchanging and source of spiritual breakthroughs. What is mutuality? It would mean generosity and support from both parties in relationships. We see part of it in Haughton’s idea of a tenderness fed by knowledge of death, for oneself and those encountered. It would be found in admiring the loved persons in our lives, revering, encouraging, celebrating them, cheering their efforts–acting out the relation within community. In community means with the help and to the benefit of those who commune together, who share in the bounty of each other’s particular loves. In that sense as well as others, communal practices of faith, along with individual ones, are sustaining–through nourishing words, creativity, and ritual. The experience of loving and being loved, in all forms of love, must be the place to keep seeking the Spirit throughout our lives. An image of this shared life, in the Catholic vision, might be artists’ versions of the Pieta, where we see Mary holding up the body of Christ for us on her lap, fully drawn in his manhood. The two of them, as gendered pair imaging self and other-self, express our offerings of self to each other. We her children, gazing on its perennial image, see fullness of life.

Feather Word: The Lotus Place Of Centering– For Elaine Pagels

There are no demons,
Only sky-deep cries for love
And life abundance,
And touch transparency of gaze to gaze,
Each one a chrysalis unfolding to mild air–
Cries that take their mazy paths
In the shimmering of corporal mind.
They find secreted nooks,
Bounce echoes off concavities and rises,
Twisting back
To the mind’s palette of paints
And breathing scents,
Pass over neural quadrants of parted waters,
Then may plunge
Into lovers’ words or poets’ antic turns,
Or prophets’ pungent bird calls
That alert, revive, or smite.
Or they may fall to searing red and half-lit words
That make us think a demon
But there are no demons.

Some cries go awry,
Shatter on static,
Fall afoul of other cries into cacophonies,
Or ropes of rattling compulsions.
Gone awry colossally
Or pestilentially,
Gathered up to tribal scale
In plangent paranoiac ideologies,
The cries may sweep a people’s fear
Into imploding overtones
And turn it back in killing-fields on victims.
Then our evil
Is Evil.
And yet there are no demons.
Somewhere at a moonlit water’s edge
Quiet will overtake them–the cries.
A sacred lotus word of contemplation, [no stanza]
Feather light,
Will catch their tones,
As a feathered, basket-woven dream catcher
Color Sways above a sleeping Miwok child,
Catching the good dreams’ colored scenes.
For moments short as breaths
And long as sleep
A feather word
Will soothe and sift the cries,
All of them,
From baby squalls of rage
To wails of warrior elegies
Reverberant on canyon walls
For boon companions lost.

And then we’ll know there are no demons,
Only the inmost circle of silence,
Face behind our pulsing cries.