Beyond

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(Setting Out To Sea, Valencia, Joaquín Sorolla, 1863 – 1923)

Beyond

You died

Was it a punch in the gut,

Or a tear at my heart?

The lost time between us was adrift

Somewhere out there…

In the universe my thoughts would come to you

Asking for you to reach out, hoping you would know

My words were strong, but my feelings deep

Both hurt you – I hurt you

You misconstrued, misrepresented me; my purpose for you

Souls in wanting do that

I was always supposed to ground you

Remind you of the heart you let get cold

Denying the purpose for your existence

You were meant for greatness, only in a way that was not so great

You were great to me…to many others you leave behind

The wisdom you obtained, the searching from the ends of the earth,

if not the ends of your mind, were not lost on me

I wasn’t ready then

I’m ready now…searching for you

And you are gone

Without a word

You knew that, the cancer eating away the physical body that confined you

You died…leaving me to wander the road you have paved

Alone in my solitude

Ahhh…you teach one last lesson

 

Whispers of a Soul

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(Young Woman On The Shore, Edvard Munch, 1896)

Whispers of a Soul

Sacred prayers

Longings of the heart screeching across the cosmos

Hidden beyond the darkness

Lost in realms of conscious reality

No one is listening; no one can hear

Only the shadows know the truth

Does his soul hear the calls of my sorrow?

Why must one bear the burden of knowing

While others live life blissfully ignorant?

There is no God of mercy, of love

For He would not want one to suffer such torment

Or leave one to such inevitable longing

Is destiny so destined?

Or are there interceptions–a chance of one’s fate

Where whispers are heard

 

 

A Highland Warrior

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(Wandering Shadows, Peter Graham, 1878)

A Highland Warrior

I dream of Scotland…

Glens and hills, peat and moss

A man belonging to the land as the soil beneath his feet

Rugged and rocky, nothing weak survives

The whipping wind thrashing his hair

Warning him of old man winter arriving at the hems of his skirt

Survival is not an option, for he does not know the luxury but to live and die

Warrior against warrior, clan against clan

Tides of the righteous binding the two in no man’s land

God’s will the destiny of his fate; barely a purpose of existence

I wonder as I dream, the black hills haunting my memory of what once was

A fur-clad figure standing firm atop the granite ledge, the green glen below taunting:

“Come hither. Lay within my arms and look upon the glories of the heavens.

Breathe in and feel the stir of life. Know of something more you cannot taste.”

Looking down upon the land that does not embrace him, nor anyone

The purpose of humanity lost as it passes from him to the next with bludgeoned blows

Withering ashes for the heather that blooms spring after spring, year after year

His life haunts me to remember…reminding me of a soul unfinished

 

 

Journey’s End

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(Urquhart Castle, Inverness, Scotland)

Journey’s End

I sat in bed, as my mind awoke without alarm, my body warm in the cocoon of my quilt. It is the first day in ten days that I didn’t have to jump up and get out with a full day of tours ahead of me. Instead, I lingered in my pajamas, made myself a cup of tea, and indulged in my “sitting room” to watch the sun hinting at morning.

Peace was mine.

I made my through the hallowed walls of the Castle where I chose to end my journey in Scotland. Everyone needs to stay in a castle! It was all one would expect, with dark paneled walls, hand carved staircases, and a dungeon where men came in, and souls went out. It is almost 9am and the sun still has not completely risen to greet the morning. Sitting in the Orangery, I sip my coffee and and watch the tired sun awaken, slowly pouring over the tips of the trees, the golden rays filtering through the 18th Century windows of a 13th century clan home that has seen many reparations, as well as, lives that have been in and out of the halls. Lives of the wealthy, the cruel, the ordinary. My view is of a glen, scotch pines standing tall among the yellowing of the birch that struggle to hold onto their leaves. A river runs through it, under a stone bridge that many a warrior have crossed to take siege of this beautiful place.

Today, I took siege.

I have traveled up and down Scotland for the last twelve days…seen this country and all its glory. As one Scot said to me, “You have probably seen more than I have and I have lived here my whole life.” I probably have. Thanks to my tour guide, Paul, from King Tours of Scotland. I couldn’t have been blessed with a more nerdy man. (I mean that as a compliment.) He talked my ear off, and filled my head with the craziest knowledge. Did you know that cowboys were Scottish? Neither did I! But Scotland had men called drovers, that would drive the cattle down from the Highlands, along rough and tumble terrain. (And it was rough!) When they came to America, cleared from their lands, they brought this skill. The Americans would hire these men to run cattle…and protect them from Indians. Even some of our famous cowboy songs are Scottish derived. Wow! And there is so much more. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

My tours took me to Edinburgh, (or, as they say, Edinburra,) through Perthshire on a train, up to a farmhouse in the Highlands, and the capitol, Inverness, touring onward to the Hebrides Isle of Skye, down to Fort William, and just below the city of Edinburgh once again. I have seen castles, national land, private ruins, city streets, and famous spots. (Yes, I even stood on “Castle Leoch” of Outlander.) Each one bringing me a sense of the people and the country that now stands. Each enriching my world view of foreign lands and their people. Each filling me up in a way that I never expected.

The beauty is boundless. Green could be my new favorite color. But Scotland isn’t just green. In the Fall it is filled with oranges and yellows. Greys and blues. Blacks and browns. Light and dark. Each with an intensity that catches the eye, stimulating something more primal inside of me – my senses heightened. The water is clear and cold, tasting of nothing it’s not supposed to. Butter and eggs are rich and creamy. (I mean really, really, creamy!!) The sounds of the night are empty except for the trickling of a stream hidden in the mounds of mossy grass and dried heather. The twinkling of the stars mock me, knowing I am too far away to reach up and grab a dream.

I grabbed my dream. I came to Scotland!

My camera will never do it justice. How do you capture King James entering the grand hall that now lay in ruins at Linlithgow? Catholics praying to statues of Rosslyn Chapel that were destroyed during the Reformation? Or the crumpled church, along a lonely road on Skye where gothic gravestones sag to the left or right from hundreds of years of neglect, religions claiming the building for their sacred beliefs. Each site was a magical portal to a world I have read about in history books. I walked on hollow ground of the royal, the religious, the renegade, all colliding into piles of rocks and remnants of walls, where I stood and snapped photos of their once turbulent, and often, bloody lives.

It is my last day in Scotland. And I leave here longing for more; knowing I must return to reality. A reality with all its glory and hardships of my ordinary life that one day may be mere rumble under someone’s feet, taking snapshots of the brick wall that remains of lives past.

It is a cycle. Nothing magical. Nothing extraordinary…except for me in the moment. Moments in the present. That is where the magic really happens. Not the past. Not the future. For those are fleeting realities that will be stacks of stone in the end. I came. I conquered. I go. Enjoying the mere beauty and pleasure it brought me as I looked upon what was in front of me, my hands gripping the coldness of the sandstone, my face feeling the frigid air, my ears listening the rain. I wish I could show you the dense dark forest with its mossy pathway that led to where I don’t know. The sunrise that slowly made its way above the black rock of the Cuillan Hills. The hairy “coos” that stared at me with disdain. But I will never capture what it meant, or even how beautiful it truly was.

I have come to Scotland to see the people that are now ghosts, their legacy hidden in snippets of a painting, a found button, an educated guess of a curator, and a whisper of tales passed on. I am touched by something that lingers. An energy? Who knows. But there is something that remains that I connect to and leave with. It is, that that we are all specs of sand in the scheme of life. Our wars are not worth fighting, or loves are not worth losing. We must take life for what it is, and embrace the moments.

Playing Chess With Lucifer

Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly, Mary Cassatt (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1844–1926 Le Mesnil-Théribus, Oise), Oil on canvas

(Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marley, Mary Cassatt, 1880)

Playing Chess With Lucifer

I wonder what you see

The face that once you looked

Lines of time, pallor of age

A young woman that no longer exists

I see it, saddened by my own loss

Cringing at what will never come again

Pained by God’s cruelty

Or is it Lucifer…who knows?

How wasted it was, never reaching out, never acting upon what could have been

Do you judge me the way I judge myself?

Do you regret what I regret?

I remember the man you once were

The man you still are

More than you could imagine to be

I see that…I see you, hidden in the depths of your making

An image of what you were supposed to become

Living up to everyone’s expectations

But where are you now, lost in the walls of your own making?

Wanting desperately to flee, if only for a moment, to escape the weight of yourself

Are we all doomed to the solitude of despair?

I hear you, your call for reprieve

Your hidden desires flare in the compounds of your words

Letting me know you are still there, reaching towards me

Unable to take hold, but wanting all the same

If only for those few moments where our lives are unbound by time

My spirit rises, a joy that finds me in my darkness

And I wonder…I wonder what you see

 

Harvest Blessing

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Harvest Blessing

Fields sway with the breath of life

Branches carry the burden of fruitfulness

From the sweat of our brows

And the will our hands

The soil brings forth the bounty of life

There upon us, in the midst of dark

The golden moon tinged in burnt

Blessing us in our till

So that we may gather our harvest

And give back with our hearts

That which God has delivered to us

Under the Harvest Moon