The shaman sits by the fire (A love letter to clergy)

The shaman sits by the fire (A love letter to clergy)

Stuart Higginbotham

The shaman’s tent sits outside the wall

or at least at the edge, planted,

a vision to be gained by one,

a place to be reached by others

who seek the real in all things,

beneath and within all.

There I sit.

Is it not a space of lonely union?

To be set aside is to be

placed within, a mystery,

not just another–

as if there is an other to see.

Nothing less than a soul, I yearn to be,

driven to become one, aware,

drawn into and through my own life,

being swallowed in the 

center of my own being

and finding You resting there.

How can we dare speak of it?

I hold a ancient bronze bowl,

beaten smooth to the finger’s touch.

I stretch out my hand

and gather the prayers like blown glass,

softly placing them inside,

for that is the only place that

the burning truth of them

will not singe and char.

As I slowly peer over the rim

my eyes rest on what lies inside,

catching but glimpse of

the clearness of things, the more

that is there, here, but not seen–

a chosen blindness,

a wound of ignorance.

In quiet moments when the wind brushes by,

the prayers spoken long ago

reach out their hands through time.

How could I have known

that which is my soul, and yours, most sublime?

And while the world shouts around me

Orpheus whispers in my ear

with a fierce truth, a vision, drawn near

of that space where love and grief join hands.

The hope of imagined things.

Do not look back.

Do not look back.

Yes, my soul knows well the one who 

crosses the veil on winged feet, 

silent and swift and

full of focus, the one with many names we meet,

known by all who step through

and move into the unknown there, and back.

The one who takes the hand and guides

those whose time has come.

Yes, the shaman fans the embers

with life in them still

no matter what robe they wear.

All would do well to remember

deep down and hold close to

the burning flame that lies at

the heart of who they are,

the holy burden of what they can be,

and must.


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