We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The Heart. Until It Stills.

Written By: Charles - Nov• 15•19

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Discovering that my journey has always been more about the heart than the head. 72 seems like soon enough to know that. Not too soon though. Grateful.

I’ve seen myself as an activist intellectual, a thinker and a doer, since around junior high. Those were outer manifestations of an inner passion, not not me, but not all of me either.

Why act? Why learn? Why write? Because something about my soul is drawn toward the souls inhabiting this miracle, this wonder, this earth, this universe. Because Mom taught me and I learned.

Here’s a moment. When I was eight or nine, our kitchen table sat next to a window overlooking the backyard. That spring, late, towards summer when the air was heating up, a spider began to weave a web over the lower part of the window. Out there was our backyard, not too big, but green with grass as the growing season took hold, and our garage.

Mom always gathered up insects in a tissue and released them outside rather than kill them. So it was not unusual that she wanted to leave the web. This was a garden spider, a beautiful member of that family. Mom and I watched her weave her web, an architectural marvel. We watched her catch insects, spin a web around them, eat them.

I don’t recall how long the spiderweb and its maker lasted. I do know that watching her and her reality with Mom was a pivotal moment for my soul. We watched and loved that spider. While we did, I became, for life, a friend of the other world, the one that is not human, the one that cares nothing at all for ideas and elections. A dog world. A tree world. A tomato world. A bee world. A spider world.

More. I became part of that world in some forever way, not different from it because I am animal, breather of oxygen, eater of meat and plants. Mortal. Joseph used to call me nature boy. If only I’d heard that in its fullness, then.

During spiritual direction, the Reverend John Ackerman listened to me over a period of years. Near the end of our sessions together he said, “Charlie, you’re a Druid.” This was while I was still enmeshed in the ministry. Oh.

There was, too, that time on the quad at Ball State when I walked outside the Humanities building and found myself in golden connection with all, with everything. Strings of brilliant light streaming into me, going back out, I was a caught insect in the web of the universe.

Now I see it was the flowers, the vegetables, the fruit trees, the bees that were my real work. The dogs. All those dogs. And my lover, my wife, whose heart shares this journey. Why we are in fact soulmates.

The writing of the novels. No. The political activism. No. The ministry. Certainly not. Maybe the docent years since art lives in our inner world. Maybe ancientrails. (thanks again, Bill.) Raising Joseph and Jon. Yes. CBE. Yes. The Woollies. Yes. Living on Shadow Mountain. Yes. Congregation Beth Evergreen. Yes. Those three spirit animals, mule deer bucks, who greeted me on Samain, 2014. Welcoming me home.

The heart. Until it stills. Maybe after that, too.

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  1. Bill says:

    In preparation for the upcoming Woolly retreat, I have been living in a similar awareness of the centrality of love. Here’s the quote from O’Donohue: “the passionate heart never ages.” John O’Donohue
    And the book “Healing With Love.” Further, Ignatius created “Spiritual Exercises.” And Teilhard deChardin: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

  2. Charles says:

    You seem to have to been onto this for a while. Your oft-stated “showing up” defines how you embody your love in relationships of all kinds. I admire that about you. A good exemplar.

    I like being in my head. I love intellectual pursuits of all kinds. Still do. I know how important political activism is though over the last year plus I’ve pulled back from it. The climate issues continue to dog me. The Great Work, as I’ve come to call after Thomas Berry. Yet.

    The heart guides the head. The head without the heart can become dry, too reliant on what Wallace Stevens calls the “click-clack” of reason. The head and the heart together. Yes.

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