Between Two Worlds Day 13 (of 40)
GOOD NEWS! The proof from Amazon’s publishing house came yesterday for my book Alone: A 4,000 Mile Search for Belonging. Wild Ginger Press will be reviewing it to make sure the layout is what we wanted, set up the ebook option, put a link on my site, and then we’ll be going to press. Keep your eyes peeled. Any day now!
Since we are on the theme of the emerging language of religious mysticism here is an excerpt from Part Three, Facing the Enemy Within on pages 98-99. I was riding through Yellowstone National Park this day:
The riding was difficult—and blissful. One moment I’d be sailing through lush, green meadows, then sweep around a corner only to find myself upon another moon-like landscape, with steam and bubbling pots of witches’ brew escaping from the earth’s belly. Then I would test my legs again as the earth turned skyward and I climbed another steep pass, towering peaks flanking me, while a rushing fresh-water stream carved its way through narrow canyons next to the road.
The highlight of the afternoon was standing on the overlook for Lower Yellowstone Falls. I nearly wept at the stark beauty and raw power of the water as gravity forced it over the rocks and sent it crashing down hundreds of feet. I had the strange experience of wanting to lean into the energy of the falls, to feel its power and soulful, violent movement, as if it wasn’t enough to observe it from a distance. Of course, I knew I couldn’t, as a few feet more toward the edge would have sent me torpedoing toward the bottom, like the water. I would have gotten the experience, but not lived to tell the tale.
I remembered the first time I had that experience, in Racine, Wisconsin. (Racine was one place I was not visiting on my pilgrimage to places lived. It was just too far and would have made my circle more of a triangle. Theologically I like the circle better, even though some would point out that the triangle represents the Holy Trinity. I believe God is found in the circle of life rather than a side of a triangle these days!) My wife and I lived in a house one mile west of Lake Michigan. I often took walks over to the lake and along its rocky beaches. When it wasn’t too cold (and it often was!), I would head over to the edge of the lake in the winter. The waves were often three, four, even five feet high, and would come crashing in against the rocks and blocks of ice that had formed. I had that same strange yearning to jump in and allow my body to be carried by the crashing waves. I wanted to experience what the waves were experiencing. At the time, my thoughts unnerved me a little. Did I have a death wish? Was my longing about wanting to die?
Years later I discovered the language of the mystics that described this longing to be one with all of life—the ocean, mountains, lovers, family, food, dance, and work. I’ve had that same feeling many times since and know now that it is not a death wish, but simply a desire for union and communion in its deepest form. Now I meditated on the falls before me, felt gratitude for its sublime beauty and power—and greedily yearned for more, much more.
Now…will you share with me one of your mystical experiences?!