Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Friday, December 19, 2008

Revelation Must be Terrible


I was riding the backseat of a car with some women that I had just met. We were going to a Lavender Festival. I thought I should go to local things and meet people instead of cultivating a social life on-line so much. I press myself into socializing this way from time to time - usually when I can't stand another moment of my own company. The woman who was driving asked if we minded if she listened to a self help lecture. A man with some sort of Celtic accent droned through and I thought, "Christ, who is THIS blow-hard?" He sounded to me like some old dusty professor who was getting paid by the word. I look out the window at the endless sea of lavender and wished she would put on some music. Then he starts reading a poem and I realize his voice is different when he is reading the poem. It sounds right when he is saying the poem yet when he is speaking prose it sounds strange to me. Then he says "...Revelation MUST be terrible!" I wince and rolled my eyes because I know I'm supposed to listen to this and I don't want to - I really don't want to know why revelation must be terrible. Do I want to hear that it is even worse than being stuck in an SUV with lovely women who I sense would recoil and have a ruined day if they knew what was really going on my head? Not this way. No. I try and think of a song...

Later after all the lavender sniffing was done, I had to retrace my steps and climb all over the internet to get the guy's name because I know I have to read that poem again or hear it because I DID say and I gave my WORD, after all, that I would examine Revelation. Sadly, I was so busy being a snob in the backseat that I never did remember to listen to WHY revelation is so terrible. Nor did I ask anyone who the guy was. Once again, I have been rescued by the kindness of strangers who are driving my cold, antisocial ass around the Olympic peninsula helping me find my way. It appears that may be the last time...

Revelation Must Be Terrible

Revelation must be
terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.

Imagine that moment
staring at the still waters
with only the brief tremor

of your body to say
you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.

Being far from home is hard, but you know,
at least we are exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world

you are on your own for
the first time. No one is
even interested in saving you now

and the world steps in
to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment

as if it believed you could join
its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.

As if you were meant to be exactly
where you are, as if
like the dark branch of a desert river

you could flow on without a speck
of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.

As if your place in the world mattered
and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of

its own bitter and beautiful cry
without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.

Knowing that it takes only
that one, terrible
word to make the circle complete,

revelation must be terrible
knowing you can
never hide your voice again.

-- David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth
©1992 Many Rivers Press

I have since spent considerable time listening to David Whyte and what he has to say about poetry and the language of living. I owe him a great debt, actually, as there is not a lot to hold on to in terms of advice that is helpful when you are uneducated in classic thought, 55 years old and wandering around outside the paradigms of the dreams of others. I got past what struck me as odd about his delivery and I'm better for it. This is usually what happens when I can get over myself though I rarely remember to do so in a timely manner. I have perused his books - few of which I have managed to read from cover to cover yet. I flip them open at random to poke about my reactions in a synchronous manner. I don't feel I need rush. This is the awareness I received from David Whyte: clarity about the gifts I hold to share with others by virtue of my age. Revelation.

Apologies to David Whyte for calling him a blow-hard.


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