Between the Wall and the Flame

Between the Wall and the Flame March 31, 2015



One of the noble covenants of love is how we take turns lifting each other from the limited vision that arises when we are in pain, how we take turns reminding each other that there is more than our pain, more than our despair, while bearing witness to our pain and despair. This poems comes from such a time.


You ask, “How can you believe in

anything when there’s pain everywhere?”

And I see the pain in your face. I have no

answer, anymore than day can make its case

in the middle of the night. Yes, things are

breaking constantly and people, bent from

their nature, are cruel and our desperation

leads us to an excess that is even too heavy

for the planet to bear. Yet, I am in a wine

bar in Hell’s Kitchen, against a brick wall,

and the small flame from the oil lamp is

letting the wall whisper its long history.

And somehow in the lighted inch of

brick, what matters flickers and I feel

everything. Something between the wall

and the flame flutters like a butterfly

carrying the secret of peace, unseen,

unnoticed. And even seeing it, and

feeling it briefly, I don’t know how to

speak of it. It’s as if under the earthquake

of existence, an infinite hand holds the

ball of fire that is our world. Now some-

one nearby pokes me and asks, “So, are

you talking about God?” This is beyond

anything I have a concept for. We’re like

small urchins churned over in the surf of

time. There’s so much more than we can

know. But you are still hurting. So I’ll

stop talking. Come, put your head

on my shoulder.

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, tell the story of a time when you put your head on another’s shoulder and how that helped you through.

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