Tuesday, February 19, 2008


After a movements class last night designed specifically to humble anyone who thought they knew anything about how to "do" Gurdjieff's movements, I came home lathered in sweat, the echoes of dervish foot-stomping still reverberating through my being.

I awoke three or four times during the night -- every time, it was as though I was instantly, unnaturally wide awake -- and this morning, when the final moment of "awakening truth" arrived, it was to a condition in which I had to suffer every breath and sensation in all of its exquisite but agonizing demand.

Why do I think, in my imagination, that I live with such ease, when it is so clearly untrue? The amount of grueling physical labor that takes place in this body on the level of organs and cells is staggering, yet in general I have little respect for it. I should be thankful that parts of me have taken it upon themselves to illustrate to me just how hard this work of life is. Maybe--just maybe--I'll appreciate it all a bit more for that.

I find myself increasingly drawn into questions about inner relationships that have little or nothing to do with what is taking place outside. There was a time, when I was younger, that inner work was a perpetual footnote to my external life. Now it begins to seem, at times, as though my external life is a footnote to my inner work.

Both ideas are wrong, of course. In my own eyes, there can be little doubt that the art, as well as the science, of this work we call life is the balancing of these two elements. But I need help with that.

In inviting the Lord to rule within--"thy kingdom come, thy will be done"-- it seems as though I have to be willing to take the roof off this magnificent church I have constructed and let the sun in. My personality, my essence, my understanding, my Being-- all of these elements within need to become open to the elements. They must become willing to stand in a place where there is no shelter: where wind, rain, and sun can fall equally on them.

A willingness to be exposed in this manner is no easy thing. I'm used to keeping a solid roof over me and cowering in the darkness, cursing it. Yes, it's true: I light a few candles, but something in me senses that the reason I can't stand outside in the light is because I'd be blinded by it.

Sometimes (as in the recent picture from Antigua, above) it takes an earthquake to knock the roof off the church. Maybe it always takes an earthquake--I don't know.

I just know that once the roof is gone, it is good to stand there and look up at the blue sky.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

1 comment:

  1. Your post about the roof and the picture of the open sky reminded me of a parable by-- as I recall-- Paul Roche, published in New American Writing back in the late 50s or early 60s.

    It tells of a missionary who teaches the monkeys to tell time with a sundial that he helps them build.

    When he dies, so that his memory will not be forgotten, they build an enclosure with a roof to protect it from the weather....


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