Every day the body works in the fields of the world
mending a stone wall
or swinging a sickle through the tall grass—
the grass of civics, the grass of money—
and every night the body curls around itself
and listens for the soft bells of sleep.
But the heart is restless and rises
from the body in the middle of the night,
and leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
with its thick, pictureless walls
to sit by herself at the kitchen table
and heat some milk in a pan.
And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
and goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
and opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
and roams from room to room in the dark,
darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.
And the soul is up on the roof
in her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
singing a song about the wildness of the sea
until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
the way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,
resuming their daily colloquy,
talking to each other or themselves
even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body—that house of voices—
sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
to stare into the distance,
to listen to all its names being called
before bending again to its labor.
~ The Night House, by Billy Collins
“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit.” ~Words of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.
How often do you put down what you’re doing to stare into the distance, listening for all your names being called before bending again to your labor? Not idealistically, but really.
Perhaps the poor in spirit, like the poor in body, know what they are hungry for and how to find food. These poor in spirit are sensitive to what they do not have and can smell a good meal a long way off.
Those of us who still offer food to our souls made of crumbling physical things — we are glutted and our senses dimmed. Our wasted souls must escape the body as it sleeps to straddle roofs in the middle of the night, meeting dawn with song and storms with glee — To look, and see. To know, and believe. To be in some way a part of what the body will not countenance in the daytime.
What if we were integrated? What would we have to give up to be able to free ourselves to live as one person, rather than as that ubiquitous, dutiful husk retaining the many imprisoned, longing expressions of a soul within? If those expressions could be joined, unified, and act as one with the body… what a glorious being!
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the earth.’
It is not our toil that is called for — in any just or good cause. Not achievement. Not good plans or talent.
It is wholeness of be-ing, poised integrity existing in perfect union.
What must I relinquish within myself to more fully realize what I need most?
c. Mary Kathryn Gough, apr 27 2012 6.31 pm
Some thinking/meditating music if you’d like.
It felt helpful to me…