Cold Fire

frozen-trees-around-the-road

Northbound US 81 zig-zagged east
through Sisseton, South Dakota
past a Lutheran church, a graveyard,
and the Mobil Supper Club
before straightening north again and
heading toward Fargo.

I think an Interstate, odd-numbered,
has either obliterated 81 by now
or turned its two lanes into six,
interrupted only by occasional exits
where Supper Clubs have become Applebees
and the tables are filled with travelers
rather than Lutherans (or Methodists, or Indians).

But there is a place
about two miles north of Sisseton’s
city limits where, in the winter of ’72,
there where miles of barbed wire and oak posts
separated the highway from the prairie,
that one morning, about 7 or 8
when the eastern sunlight was bouncing from
hill to rise
in the reflected white light of last night’s snow and ice,
that box elder trees, ten of them or twenty of them,
caught the sunlight in ice-covered branches and
glassine canopies became as
frozen fire burning against the cold, so clear blue sky.

Cold fire, forty years ago. But
burning still..

David B. Weber, March 2013

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Tao Te Ching #37, no Desire

Sitting beside an early-springtime lake,

the wind in my face is still a bit chilly

and the shore plants- reeds and grasses-

are now barely beginning green.

 

I try to imagine  what it would be like

to watch this lakeside world

knowing

I was the only one doing so.

To watch with

no anticipation nor anxiety but my own,

no memory nor regret

no lies

and no truths.

I would

(I also imagine)

hear only the unending echo of

“I Am.”

without Desire.

only Attraction.

and in some green-leafy,

insect-clicking, cloud-rolling

ways,

a very real Love.

Tao Te Ching #33, Mirrors

Qoheleth declared all to be

Vanity:

emptiness encased in

shiny superficiality,

marketed as meaningful,

but quickly forgotten in the glare

of that which is shinier,

newer,

and just beyond our reach.

Vanity, my name is Vanity..

until I learn my true name.

And that name can be learned

only

by leaning into the image of myself

in the mirror of a pine tree’s

sticky, sap-stained bark;

or in the mirror of a mountain range

where snow-covered peaks are hidden

behind winter’s-grey/golden clouds;

or in the mirror of a thousand soldiers’

graves at the edges of a

Pennsylvanian battlefield;

or in the mirror of flashing fish scales

or a red/yellow/blue/white supernovas

or in a drop of sidewalk rainwater.

There

I am, too:

in Meaning without words

in Reflection without plot

in Holiness without divinity.

And my true name?

My true name is that

I have

no name.

Tao Te Ching, 5

The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

(Stephen Mitchell’s translation)

My response:

I asked the snake, gold/green and sleek,
“Which is better, rain or sunshine?”
The snake struck at my boot and bit,
because I had gotten too close.
My words of enlightened wondering
were felt by the snake
as the warmth of a too-near threat,
and he slipped away,
down the hill like a tiny stream.

There was no good, nor bad in the snake’s bite.

The next time, I will simply stand further away,
and ask again, in a whisper.

 

Other chapters and responses here; feel to discuss, or add your own: http://taochow.wikispaces.com/Chapter+05

Tao Te Ching, Chapter One (a seedling)

Knowing is the beginning of not-knowing.

Curiosity is the doorknob on infinity,

The acorn’s germ is there, still- unseen and present- in the oak tree,

as the oak tree is there, still- unable to be seen, but present-

from the vantage point of the Sun.

As I am there, still- unseen, unheard, but present and breathing-

in the ocean of humanity.

I know very little; therefore, I am.

If you know the acorn, the oak tree, or me..you’ll understand.

But what you understand will disappear quickly into greater knowledge,

as will the acorn and the tree, and as will I ..

 

Things without names preclude titles for them, too

There is no name that I am aware of for this:

When an adult has a baby- a little baby, a 2 month, 3 month, maybe 6 month old baby..

When an adult- and it doesn’t matter, woman or man- when an adult

has a little baby in their lap and the baby is a little bit awake or not at all,

the adult will softly wiggle, almost without thinking, the first knuckle of their little finger into the baby’s fist.

There is no name for that wiggling of the little finger into the smaller much smaller hand,

nor has there been, nor will there be..

there shouldn’t be, mustn’t ever be

because to name that moment or minute or whole naptime (it doesn’t matter)

to name that time would be to shrink, subdue, even subjugate that time into meanings

understood only (maybe) by the adult so squeezed when, in fact,

the baby- no matter how small, even a day, even an hour- has begun with the adult

to change

history;

to make all things

new.

Because that’s how important such an encounter is, even one like this that is nameless.

The adult and the baby..

(stop here and remember, not with your mind but with the skin of your little fingertip, the last time that wiggle-then-squeeze happened. If your fingertip doesn’t remember then bring the memory up from the ancestral imagination that you were born with and that was unlocked the first time forever when you squeezed that impossibly warm handful of someone’s little finger however many years ago that was. Either way, remember without words, without meaning, just feel).

The adult separates the softclenched baby’s fist with a softmaneuvering fingertip. Why?

Because the wave spills onto the beach and reaches into the sands there as deeply as it can;

Because flower petals spread in the heat of the sun to gather as much sunlight as possible;

Because the crow lifts its head then it its wings to the updraft blowing to nowhere but lifting joy.

That’s why: it is the only reason why it has to be the only way it is that humans can be.

A stillpoint in the history of the universe. Touch, squeeze………

now..and pause.

Pause, don’t breathe for a moment. Pause.

The dance ends and the dance begins, the dance of everything that was, becomes the dance of everything that will be and both halves of eternity rest now in this moment where stories end and stories begin and where spirit wiggles and spirit squeezes and it is a single action that reverberates in all that is

including God.

Or maybe that single action-wiggle/squeeze, squeeze/wiggle- is God,

or maybe not.

There is no word that I am aware of for this.1

1 The difference in the ages of the participants in this..dance, shall we call it?..means this: not much. The adult, thus squeezed, will never separate from the baby squeezing and will, if asked, if the need is known, if privileged to, die even violently rather than know the baby is to be harmed in almost any way if such sacrificial action does not occur. Adults so touched, part of the eternal stillpoint, will lose part of themselves- their indefinable wordless selves- forever, willingly, in the baby’s fist and the baby, even without the cognitive ability to recall anything specific about the adult, or even know that the warmth squeezed was an adult will, nonetheless, hold that adult within the deepest part of their historic memory, that part of memory which belongs to the ages and always will.

@David Weber, December,2010