02 November 2007

Dear Drummers,

I’ve mentioned before in my email missives that our drum groups provide me an incredible opportunity to put my theology into practice, because each time a drum approaches, the pressure builds on me to try come up with something brilliant to say and some kind of awesome ceremony to conduct. Of course, whenever I try to be brilliant, nothing happens. And the pressure builds, and I try harder to think of something profound and soon this dull hum begins to rumble just behind my mind’s eye, and before long, I am making those puffing, squeaking rodent sounds of a man who has lifted the veil of pretence and seen himself as he truly is: witless, ugly and worthless to the world. And so, in panic, I go to my library or the internet to find a poem or story, or I go to my behemoth of a book that I’ve been writing for two years, and I try to find something – anything that will look like a spark of spiritual radiance to offer you. And nothing happens. Because I am empty Tupperware, with that slight odor of old food.

So I am faced with three choices. 1) Stay home and sulk on Friday. 2) Do nothing and trust the Spirit—which all of you carry with you from various corners of the Twin Cities as you make your way to the drum—trust that the spirit will bring what it wants to happen, through all of you. 3) Go to nature, become open and ask for guidance.

Today I chose #3. I write this from upstate New York, and today was blessed to go on a long hike through Watkins Glen Gorge, a truly amazing staircase of waterfalls and foaming water cutting its way for 10,000 years down through 400 feet of shale and sandstone to create a primeval, wet, mossy gorge two miles long. I entered the gorge distracted and depressed but after only a few steps I began to feel that crushing presence of failure begin to crack and splinter, and after awhile those clay shards flaked off and fell into the water, where they dissolved and were carried away.

Here is what the earth taught me to see today. We are like this land: layer after layer of time pressed together – each day, each month and year overlaying one another, each love and anger and envy pressing down on one another, shaping our inner landscape. And we often feel trapped inside the crush of layers, and we spend our energy trying to scratch our way out, and we are immobilized. But is there not in us somewhere this very water of spirit cutting its way through all of the old wounds and all of the old pretences and failures, and prides and sins, and past loves and dashed hopes and shattered illusions? From down here, near the rushing waters of Spirit, those many-layered canyon walls gleam wet with dappled sunshine and new life sprouts from the fissures. It is here where that “now-moment” lives in us, that moment that mystics and sages have told us about for eons, the place of the Presence, the Shaper and Transformer, the Watery One who says you are new and new again each day, who says give me your old clay and I will carry it away.

The drum—the spirit in the drum—comes to extract us from between these layers, and take us to that place where the waters of spirit are continually at work on us, making us Gorgeous.

This Friday we will thank this Spirit. If you’d like to bring an offering to this Spirit—something biodegradable—please feel free. Compost, dirt, water, flowers, herbs, tobacco, flour, cornmeal, whiskey, milk, poetry, song, whatever. If you want to make this offering carry a prayer of something you’d like the Water of Sprit to carry away, please feel free.

See you soon.

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