Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

Loading...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the penitent


“For I have learned that every heart will get
What it prays for
Most.”

Hafiz



it is the simplest
and also the most difficult
the most reverential thing you will ever do:
admit you were wrong
fall on your knees and cry out: 'i have sinned'
not for the deeds you have done but
for the imperfect way in which
you have done them.

if you were a better person
say, the buddha--or mahatma--
if you were christ himself, a peaceful warrior
whose life was a candle flame of love
well then maybe you wouldn't have fucked it up
to quite the monumental proportions that you did
but you're not the christ, you're not siddhartha
hollowing his cheeks beneath the bodhi tree awaiting
the vision that was soon to come.

no, in the end you are just you
making an admission: i fucked it up
and i'm sorry about that, i'm sorry i didn't do better
that i wasn't a bigger person back then;
i didn't even know there was a bodhi tree and if i had
i'd have chopped the damn thing down: that's
the kind of person i've been.
but now
i know better; i know something about love
and love is not what i was doing
though i thought it was--i was sincere,
if sincerely, absolutely, fantastically wrong.

and it's not like it gets better after you admit
you're an asshole--not if you've confessed
to the catholics or the fundamentalists, devil
might as well have you if that's what you've done--
because sure as hell
you find yourself alone before almighty god
the one you'd been hoping didn't exist.
you know the one, the old-style god whose face
must be covered by the wings of seraphim
so that you will not be roasted to bacon bits
just for daring to stand before him and plead your case:
o god, o most terrible and sacred and ancient of days
please dear god, give me one more chance
before you throw me in that lake of fire, just once
to do something that resembles goodness
that resembles the kind of love
i came to this life to learn.

you might even throw in a prayer to god's mom:
mother of god, you think to yourself--
you're his ma, maybe you can plead my case--
maybe you can make him less of a bully.
jesus, mary and joseph
cut us a break, will you, won't you, please
show us a little mercy?
good for you if you can get some--
that sweet milk of understanding, those honey-lipped
words of forgiveness--without the slap of the caveat:
forgave you this once, next time
it's the lake of eternal fire for you, buddy
so mind your p's and q's and study the Word,
that's right--the capital Word.

in the end it seems better to go back to square one
which in this case looks a lot like
a bodhi tree with a very skinny man sitting
quietly in meditation, waiting on a vision
waiting on the next thing
maybe waiting for christ to stroll up the path
and join him for a pot of rice.
waiting with the patience of a god who knows
all is not always lost;
mercy is always and ever available to those
who have nothing else to fall back on
who are here to learn about love
no matter that they've fucked it up
over and over, so many samsaras and second chances
so much karma wrung from the eyes of their hearts
that it seems a river must flow deep enough
to water this bodhi tree for centuries
which is never too long to wait
once you have been forgiven.


KB © 5/13/2013


8 comments:

  1. the thought you provoked in me is that it's really all about the process. you fuck it up, but you can choose either to reflect about it or not - seek forgiveness or not. the small portion of folks who choose to learn from their mistakes, battle their demons, try to get better after fucking up (because we all do/will) are the ones doing god's (however you see him) work, or if you prefer, just doing the right thing. not only do we need to grow, but you never know when your growth (okay, a bit arrogant maybe) might help someone else to grow or help them on their path. now the f-up is turning from a bad into a good thing. don't focus on the f-up. what will you do next? great post, kb. thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. "...hollowing his cheeks beneath the bodhi tree awaiting
    the vision that was soon to come."
    such a beautiful, simple phrase

    "...must be covered by the wings of seraphim
    so that you will not be roasted to bacon bits
    just for daring to stand before him and plead your case:"
    a sense of humor while dancing the sacred, obscene line of sacrilege-delicious

    "...so many samskaras and second chances
    so much karma wrung from the eyes of their hearts
    that it seems a river must flow deep enough
    to water this bodhi tree for centuries
    which is never too long to wait
    once you have been forgiven."
    and this phrase just quenches a deep thirst with the mentioned river

    love the way you write

    and it sounds like you are owning and working your own lessons more in this one, talking about something we as a race of people have a deep problem with

    ownership of one's own responsibility

    bravo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for allowing me along on this philosophical journey of religion(s) and relationship(s) and my own nature. You took me into timelessness, or the fulfillment of time - I can't decipher, as you wove this tapestry from the title to the last word. This was heart-frustratingly humanly raw and aberrant, and yet, 'lovely altogether.' I'm stuck on the three words - 'mercy is always' Thank you for your openness.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a masterpiece. Have you sent it out into the world for publication? Well done! Thanks for posting it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "...once you have been forgiven." everything is new and fresh and the world again presents joy and endless possibilities - until you ignore the old lady waiting to cross at the street corner until you make snide comments until you laugh at something that is not funny until you sin. Then you must be forgiven again and then everything is new and fresh and the world presents joy and endless possibilities. There is comfort in familiar cycles.

    I love your writing, KB. It is deserving of a wider audience - so - LET IT BE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Tom, for reading. I would love to get it out there into the wider world. (Strangely, the song "Let it Be" has been stuck in my head all day. Coincidence? The Beatles trying to tell me something? Mother Mary singing to me?) I am a bit daunted by the publishing process. But maybe I need to put it out there and let it be.

      Delete