Dear Sor Juana,
I have accepted a challenge of writing a thousand words a day for the month of June and invited people to send me topics they would like me to write about. Opening up the space for others to shape has revealed the topics people want to read about and ones they might like to hear my thoughts on. There are some themes emerging around economies of trust and hope and the transactional relationships of giving and taking in the personal and public dimensions. I have been reminded of a short essay wrote long ago (1993) on an alternative future for ethics and economics for Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace (the 90s were a time for such things and it was an extract from my Masters thesis). Inviting topics from others has me now on the cusp of many conversations and reflecting on how conversations begin.
How do you begin a conversation? With an introduction, a casual greeting, a question? How ever it starts, there is always an opening, the creation of a space or a gap to allow access or a passageway through to the next space. We may not always know what we will find on the other side and there are times we all prevaricate over the opening of conversations we may not want to have.
The threshold, the place we find ourselves just before the opening where we might catch our breath, is our launching pad. The qualities of that place provide the foundations for what is to come next and as we step off, if they are loose and fragile they may not serve us well as we begin a conversation. The solidity of the ground beneath the feet of the conversation is a very real factor in how we move forward. The higher the trust the more solid the threshold and in turn the deeper the conversation.
I have written before on the poetry of David Whyte and even included his poem The Opening of Eyes previously and on the eve of his visit to my country I am trusting his opening to Australia will illicit his muse and poems from this landscape will emerge. When I met him a couple of years ago, in Ireland, it was the landscape and the music that opened me up in a new way and despite the essays and poems of his I had loved for a couple of decades, nothing prepared me for the place and its capacity to teach me. The joy of stumbling on the Burren and the echo of The Beatitudes melting into fog, are fused onto my threshold for the continuous conversation with the Divine.
Staying open and stepping off from a stable threshold supports this pilgrim. So as I get ready for my writing challenge, I give thanks for those who have sent me topics on which to write and treat their suggestions as solid ground from which to open every door, and in doing so, accept all the topics that have offered up to me.
The Opening of Eyes
That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.
— David Whyte
from Songs for Coming Home
©1984 Many Rivers Press