Manhood

Manhood

I get that.

The whole world tells us we’re supposed to be strong,
but I’m not.

I’m just tired.
I’m hurting and fragile.

We’re supposed to be gruff and unfeeling.
Provide and protect, we’re told.

But I can’t.
And you don’t need or want that.
Not really.

I can’t help it. I feel deeply.
I think it all in my heart.

They, the others, say I should be,
but I’m not.

Sometimes it bothers me,
but sometimes it doesn’t.

I know I don’t need to fit a mold,
but I feel the world trying to squish me into it sometimes.

Or is that my loneliness doing the pushing?

They say I should but I can’t.
I sometimes try anyway,
because the cravings and yearnings are powerful.

I am me. I choose my am over their shoulds.
(Well, most of the time.)

I hope you get that.

Heaven

 

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Heaven. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Hope of the Earth
Earth’s Hope. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

East of the endless retail, and
the keeping it weird of Portland,
lies a land forgotten.

Far from the fir & fruit trees,
the nation imagines,
is another Oregon.

Beneath the infinite sky,
the sage grows wild, and
wheat, wind, & warmheartedness sustain.

In the arid landscape,
the rare rain & tree are treasures,
as beloved as family and history.

The tiny grocery, the pub,
& soda fountain are the venue
for a shadow vibrancy unseen by passersby.

Beyond that neighborliness,
using only my feet and legs to carry,
I step along a rocky path once walked by rancher.

Deep in the canyon,
beneath the hot spring sun,
my ears are baptized with silence.

Beside the deep blue river,
and beneath the azure dome,
my thoughts come easily.

Purifying sage reaches my nostrils,
the Spirit descends,
and divine love & clarity permeate palpably.

The rocks beneath & sky above are me.
My toes hug the rocky soil,
and my spirit soars among fluffy clouds.

I am one. We are One.

When I’m Ready

When I’m Ready
Oasis to Come
Oasis to Come. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License, BY-NC-ND 3.0

On the trail,
all alone,
I’m not.

On the trail,
a partner,
sometimes silent.

On the trail,
a sojourner,
always present.

On the trail,
a voice,
a companion.

***

My companion,
listens,
as I cry & yammer.

My companion,
encourages,
free thought.

My companion,
appreciates,
randomness.

My companion,
smiles,
and love and hope hug me.

My companion,
speaks,
in word, sign, & through vistas.

***

When I deny, avoid
and question,
the companion waits.

In my confusion,
along the other paths I find,
my companion marvels at slug & frond.

When I worry,
and the world wounds my soul,
my companion points to  the lilies.

When I avoid,
choosing the present,
my companion warms me in the now.

When I push  back,
shouting “I hate you!”
my companion sticks around.

When I yearn & crave decision.
my companion offers a word or sign,
wrapped in hope, love, patience, & a hug.

***

A decision,
an issue,
flutters inside.

A decision,
interacts with,
bud & puddle of mud.

A decision,
an issue, pros & cons,
take turns deep within.

A decision,
with each step,
floats to the surface.

A decision,
is apparent,
and I lack trust, & confidence.

A decision,
eludes & hides,
behind fear and angst.

A decision,
waits patiently,
until I choose to hear.

***

On the trail,
all alone,
I’m not.

My companion,
listens,
as I cry & yammer.

When I deny, avoid
and question,
the companion waits.

A decision,
an issue,
flutters inside.

***

When I’m ready for joy,
the word or sign,
wrapped in hope, love, patience, & a hug await.

 

Bridge of Breath & Dust

Bridge of Breath & Dust
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Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 

Beside the fir’s olfactory balm,
I step and step again.
Pausing I breathe in Mama Gaia.

Healed.

The silence and chittering creatures,
lose their dominance as I continue.
Trickles and gurgles become roars.

Curious.

Beneath the green canopy,
the end of tunnel light beckons.
Emerging solar warmth embraces my skin.

Energized.

Hopeful yellows, purples, & reds
dot the spring shoreline beyond the roaring.
The icy danger disrupts my forward journey.

Yearning.

In the mountain’s domain,
far from she and far from he,
I stand beneath the blue skies.

Flummoxed

Beside the rushing waters,
I gaze beyond the treacherous sea.
No steel or human-crafted expanse facilitates my journey.

Decoding.

Fear and desire compete.
“Maybe here. Maybe up that way.”
Turning around feels like giving up.

Trepidation.

“There!” I spy rudimentary clues.
Those who’ve come before point the way.
Challenge, skill, and hope lure me across the rushing risk.

Cautious.

A little muddy, damp, and chilled,
I look back to where I’ve been.
Ethereal kindred united self with me.

Bridged.

In the mountain’s domain,
the breath of divine wholeness reveals,
the dusty camaraderie of humanity.

Seeking Certainty

Seeking Certainty

I wish I knew.  I want certainty.
I need to know. Yes, I need to know.
How can I prepare if I don’t know?

“Show me the way!”
I shout at God.
“Tell me now! I must know. Now!”

If I just listen more closely.
Maybe, if I quiet myself.
This path? That path? Certainly, not the other path?

Certainly not.

Today, I know where my foot should fall.
Here. Yes, here. I’m sure it’s here. Positively.
Yes. Yes. Yes. This is it.

Or is it?

Doubt. Fear.
I don’t want to be hurt.
I don’t want to make a mistake.
I really do want to do what God wants.

But.

But what if this path is too rocky?
What if that one disappears among the muck?
What if I’ve got it wrong. It’s not like the signs are in neon.

Why turn either way? Why not stay right here?
I love it here.
Really, mother. I love it here.

I wish I knew.
Is there a path for me at all? Do I matter?
What if this path –the one I already know — is ordained for me?

Sigh.

Is the sandy path down near the beach my path?
Maybe the rocky one that leads to the clouds is mine?
Perhaps this linoleum trail I’ve been on is mine?

Mine.

Mine. Mine. Mine.

I need to know my path.
How can I prepare if I don’t know?
I have to pack after all.
Do I fill the Samsonite with shorts & tanks or jeans & hoods?

I mentally torture myself trying to determine the path.
This one? That one? Another one?

“Show me the way!”
I shout at God.
“Tell me now! I must know. Now!”

But what if the divine doesn’t work that way?
What if I have choices?
What if I can  feel the calf-burn of moving up sandy dunes if I want?
What if  the pinch of tiny rocks in my mountain hikers is my choice?
What if the drizzly fog freezing on the smooth rocks is my preference?

What if?

What if any one of these paths is mine?
What if any combination of many paths are mine?

Perhaps, just perhaps the spirit is revealed upon any trail,
any trail upon which I come alive!

Maybe any one of these paths and more are ordained for me if I choose.

I think maybe, just maybe.

Maybe that is what it means to be created in the image of God: to have choices before me and to make whatever path I traverse a place where I bring myself, wholeheartedly, and brimming with love to share.

White Edges

LInes. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
White Edges. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

White edges,
keeping us on the straight & narrow,
showing us the proper way.

Navigating the painted lines,
we puff up in pride & righteousness
when we stay within their rigidity.

“I follow the rules!

“I’m the right kind of person!”

“You gotta stay inside the lines
if you wanna avoid hell!”

White edges,
permeable in reality,
impenetrable in thinking.

White edges,
keeping us from the grassy meadow,
forested enclave, and expansive view.

White edges,
separating us from new ideas,
our creative essence, & the divinity within.

White edges,
keeping us away from fellow sojourners,
from warm hearts & cozy hearths.

Navigating the painted lines,
staying within their safety,
we lose our way.

“I’ll be safe if I stay within the rules!”

“The right kind of person stays away from the boundaries!”

“God only loves me if I stay within, avoiding mistakes!”

White edges,
impenetrable only in our minds,
only in our hearts.

Focused on rigidly staying within,
we lose sight of what matters:
the expansive divinity of love.

God is a Nursing Mother

God is a Nursing Mother

Artist: Mary Cassatt Start Date: c.1907 Completion Date:1908 Public Domain Source: wikiart
Artist: Mary Cassatt
Start Date: c.1907
Completion Date:1908
Public Domain
Source: wikiart
God is a creating mother,
nurturing me from egg & sperm,
giving of her whole self to bring me into being.

God is a proud mother,
beaming at my possibilities and naturally good looks,
she tells all her friends how amazing I am.

God is a nursing mother,
feeding me her divinity until I am satiated,
and then kissing my puffy cheek as she lays me down.

God is a weaning mother,
leading me to find her nourishment,
in the divinity of people and trees.

God is a guiding mother,
mentoring my kindness to pets and friends,
in my love for strangers and care for things.

God is a mother with expectations,
demanding and encouraging me to treat others well,
giving me the look only she can give when I stop trying.

God is a lurking mother,
calling to me when I get a little rough,
but always ready to kiss my boo-boos when I fall,

God is a teaching mother,
sharing her thoughts, pointing to peers who can help,
all while allowing me to figure it out myself.

God is a stern mother,
kind but clear in expectations,
disappointed when I fail to live into who she knows I can be.

God is a forgiving mother.
Empathetic to my struggle,
she’s the queen of do-overs and second chances.

God is an empty-nest mother,
remembering and missing my cuddles,
but proud of who I am becoming.

God is Mommy to whom I always return.
Giggling in joy when I live into my divinity,
she enfolds me in her extravagant embrace just because I am.

Until

Until
Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Stripping off the heat of the day,
I lower my body to the mat upon the floor.
Cooling night breeze brushes against skin,
body hair tingles with each gust of dark air.

But the jaw refuses,
holding tight to the day’s tension.

Not yet cool but no longer hot,
I partially drape my body with the sheet,
and banish canine to the foot.

But the jaw denies release,
holding word and worry tight.

Systematically moving from toes and heel to ankle and calf,
my mind pauses in awareness of each muscle.
Deep within, my ever-present right hip threatens,
to push ahead in line as each part of my physicality,
has its turn at notice by my meditative mind.

Reaching my belly, my mind circles in compassion around,
tingling epidermis and twinges of nerves beneath,
that remember the knife that opened my belly not so long ago.
My body remembers even when my mind represses.

Jaw, belly, and hip conspire,
to deny the cooling breeze its healing powers.

Until.

Until my lungs let out their quivering sigh and my mind lets go of body, consciousness, and finally the day.