Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Digging Through the Ashes of My Past Lives

I've spent the better part of the evening digging through the ashes of my past lives. That may seem odd, but it is true.

Oh, I am the same man I have always been...

... but not.

There is a such a thing as "repentance" and repentance directs you to change course.

I have shifted course many times, but never lost a certain common thread - an enchantment with beauty and mystery, with secret glimpses of my God of Light in strange and dark places.

I was about to completely close down an entire web site I've got - nail boards across the windows and such - because I haven't sold a book as that author in more than 2 years, and the things that I wrote about way back when were as scandalous as they were beautiful. But it turned out that several things stayed my hand: One was a story my wife told me about a box of letters she had and how she was about to throw it away until a certain priest stopped her. His perspective was: that's your cross to bear, it is a part of you, and don't ever throw yourself away.

The second was the fact that I actually got fan mail. It happens so seldom, and I was quite surprised, but pleasantly. Once or twice a year I get an email from some junior high, or high school kid asking if they can have permission to use, quote, whatever, my poetry. I've had paintings made, and recitations performed, and even a play and a ballet done based on my poetry. This was one more reminder that perhaps there is some beauty I've left there for others to cherish.

The final thing that did it was I started reading my own poetry. I'm not saying I'm brilliant or a great poet or anything like that, but as I read some of the things I had once written I realized I could still FEEL them. To me that's what poetry is all about. I don't know if anybody else feels anything when they read it, but if anybody does at all, then I'm doing a good thing by giving it to them, so why take it away?

So, instead I decided to shore up the collapsing house a little, remove a few broken links, take away things that were completely obsolete. I found two whole branches of the building that I think I need to completely gut, they are in such decay.

But I am still tormented that I should remove it, because I am still tormented that I will offend someone, cause someone shame, or hurt someone by what they may find there. Is that my cross? That I should live out my days knowing that in order to do good, I constantly take the risk that I may cause offense to someone?

One of the final, final things, that may nudge me and set my mind at ease, was one of the old reviews I read on - it was from someone I know and he told me he was going to write it. He is a priest's son, and currently a novice in a monastery, and I could tell by what he wrote that I touched him in a very positive way. But somehow I still struggle with it all. I still sometimes wonder if the cross is too great to bear.

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