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mysticism for one

in the quiet
daylight or not
never with strangers
not on command, but when subsumed
in the presence of something intimate, and crushingly larger than myself
I’ll say again: in silence

These are the ways that I set the stage to be swallowed by Creation.
These are the ways that I find to get lost, to find again what I thought was lost, but which was never farther away than my breath. Like closing the eyes to truly see, letting myself be swept into a sense of communion with  . . .  whatever it is that suffuses all of the earth and the night sky. That thing  {and it is a thing, not some anthropomorphic personal force} like some long lost umbilical cord, chordΘ, that is never detached from the living.

It is an experience that I return to over and over again, thirsting for more, farther, and wanting to bring something of the experience back… and yet as I describe it here I realize that I am the given, the offering, like a bottle-mouth through which the Cosmos runs when uncorked. It feels like it is always there, and only our willful insistence about what(ever) we are about keeps that fluid from flowing through us as powerfully as it can.

I wonder if I have actually said what this is – this thing that I write of now; even while I know how futile it is to try to point it out in articulate speech, like trying to bottle the breeze. Maybe mysticism is always for one. Just one, just me, or just you, or you … as when it is you, you are not entirely you for just a moment. You become more than you, and less than you, and yet all of the you that ever mattered, the you that matters to the Universe.

I began this evening’s thoughts wondering about my practice of photographing my wife, now my wife and daughter, and wondering what about that work keeps me coming back. Surely I’ve taken enough pictures, of my wife certainly – if the measure were mere some kind of volumetric economya, or a portfolio of flattering sexy images, or a broad spectrum of portraits that frame and transcribe my experience of her characterb. But, I realize lucidly, maybe for the first time, or maybe just again after a long time, that the reason I keep returning to that setting – Roxanne + me + some natural grandeur – is that these are the ends to the means this writing is about: communion with something larger, commingling with each other and the raw stuff of Life from which we all spring.

There are a lot more “kinds” of pictures that Roxanne and I make together as well: photographs of lustful moments, of our hum-drum quotidian, of pictures taken in the heat of arguments, romantic moments, photographs made in sadness. All together these are the granular textures of our Love Story, and still… when I stand back and allow myself to be quiet, vulnerable, reflexive, what floats to the surface of my mind is that the underlying experience of our Love is very much the underlying experience of being tossed under by a wave, or of standing on a mountain top and seeing to the ends of the earth. In Love you are not just you, but more than you, and less than you, and yet all of the you that ever mattered, the you that matters to the Universe.

It seems to me that mysticism is never for one; when the experience swallows you whole, you aren’t there to be alone.

Roxanne and Rumi, amid the slowly settling discharge from the moving truck - weeks after moving into our home. Loveland, CO 2016.
Roxanne and Rumi, amid the slowly settling discharge from the moving truck – weeks after moving into our home. Loveland, CO 2016.

a What is considered “sufficient” among those families who keep, and value, family pictures.
b A la Stieglitz and his thoughts on portraying Georgia O’Keeffe. More good stuff on O’Keeffe and Stieglitz here!
Θ I had originally just misspelled cord, but decided to keep chord as the metaphor feels very strong and true. We can be touched by chords, resonate with chords, vibrate like chords. This is true of all human experience to some greater or lesser degree: strings are attached!

Published in Family Posts