susan smith nash

Five times into the prayer

I begin to understand the form;

words echoing, smooth domed ceiling

a voice reverberating

echo chamber of reality

this tight, closed space;

I roll out the carpet,

I bow my head --

will today be the day I finally forgive myself?

Tears dripping softly onto the surface

I'm tired of too many failed attempts,

too many dark nights of the soul. 

I understand nothing yet; I must persevere;

there is no short-cut

the moon is a sharp sliver tonight

I look upward, think of Julian of Norwich

and other mystics --

A lifetime from here, someone

locks herself away to silence, seclusion, prayer.

I am not shocked.

I understand her thought:

"The mind must be quiet to communicate with you."

The outside world seems peculiar, sad, pointless --

can we ever transcend the space of our own consciousness?

Manipulation is a threadbare cruelty.

Commitment is a kindness one gives to oneself. 

The prayer mat glides me

softly toward a place I've never been;

five times into the prayer

a face appears to me,

bathed in joy. I do not recognize it.

I lean forward.

My face touches the wool.

My body aches for forgiveness.

Five times into the prayer

I begin to understand

words take shape

the name is something I am starting to see

converted into lines

intricate patterns like iron

wrought into gates and entries

calligraphy is a barrier and a gateway

iron wrought by fire, but cooled by pure

sweet water; patterns forming

locks and labyrinths

words requiring breath

the breath in me guides me;

the words forming lines across lines

maps of time not place

I breathe.  I pray. 

I hear the soft words

and then echoes that repeat

endlessly, limited only

by my ability to hear.

Five times into the prayer,

but five thousand time into the echo

the carpet thick and soft against my knees

I am curled up alone here, but

a higher power is at my side, whispering

guidance & guiding me in it,

a place of eternal echoes,

the architecture of transcendence

a window, or at least,

a hope.

(29 January, 2000)