Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Napkin of Enlightenment

It all began this morning, when I looked for a photo to blog about. Instead I was given a photo for my new poetry blog, and a chance to articulate thoughts that had circled, unspoken, in my head during yesterday's workshop.

We'd been shown a circle with a line through it, that one which is drawn on the lower left quadrant of the napkin. And the question was raised: if the line is life, from birth on the left to death on the right, and if all that white space above the line is the overworld, then is the space below the underworld? And does that mean, in fact, that life is hell?

Much debate and discussion ensued, and I found myself thinking "but what is outside the circle?" and "what if you rotated the circle clockwise a quarter turn: wouldn't the dark and light then lose the perceived power of their division, and become just passing shadows playing across a surface?"

So then this morning my image appeared, of a beautiful wall in Verona, partially enshadowed, dramatically colored, dominated by a diagonal shadow and an elaborate (and very closed) door. For some reason this image needed a poem, not one of these meditations, so I worked on that til it was time to go to church.

After church I went to coffee with a friend, and found myself explaining and drawing it all out -- the circle in the lower left, the underworld; the wall on the lower right, the facade -- and then, for good measure, I drew out another image from Lynn's workshop. It's the circle in the upper left quadrant of the napkin, meant to trace the movement of the solar calendar as light plays over the surface of our spiritual lives; a movement from the Summer Solstice of naive belief at the top to the dark night of despair in the winter solstice at the bottom.

When I then explained that when you hit rock bottom, the light finally shines through the darkness, like a single ray, we realized it was time for the circle to break open, to unfold into spring like a flower into bloom, like an orange cut open for all to eat; that it was time for all separation between in and out, us and them, dark and light, God and not-God to cease, and for openness to be the order of the day.

The sweetness of that discovery was as pure and delicious as the cinnamon twist we shared (to offset the extra cups of coffee that led to our conclusions); as full of delight as this poem by Rumi:

I know there is a gold mine in you.
When you find it,
the wonderment of the earth's gifts
you will lay aside
as naturally as does a child a doll.


Jan said...

This is very, very nice.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I see, I reread your post and now I see the flower blossom opening...yeah! Foggy brains shouldn't try to comment (that is, if my last try at commenting went through, I received an error message).