Go Slow Now: A Letter
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Article ID: 14934
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Paladin of the Waxing Moon
Posted: May 6th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,733
Merry Meet, Friend,
I’m surprised that a single thing, like a standard television commercial, can throw me into a magickal decision that changed me. Well, I’m uncertain if it’s a change, exactly, or more likely, it was just a realignment of notions I once held about the world and how I’ve lost touch with my spirit.
One morning last summer, I tried to wake up before the long creep to work. I sipped black coffee and watched the talking heads of the news repeat stories of war, famine, unemployment, and civil violence every ten minutes. What could anyone do about those events, anyway? Then, I saw a commercial for the Ringling Brothers circus.
I half thought, chiding myself, “If I could go, could afford to go, maybe I would.”
But the circus was in an arena across the bay from here. It would be a journey to go there. Where would I find the time? I had to prepare for ritual with my coven. I had so much work waiting at my job, and I knew the traffic was growing and slowing. I had to hurry; I turned my thoughts from the misery of humankind toward the job and earth-path that sustains my life.
I’ve thought about it since then. I saw the Ringling Brothers circus when I was a child of nine or so. But I haven’t seen a real one since. In the late autumn, a small, shabby carnival of sideshow rides and cotton candy arrived for a weekend and set up camp across from the local bowling alley. We must’ve been just another stop on the road before they, too, folded up the rides and retired for the winter.
Some believe the child that we were still exists somewhere within us. As a kid, I climbed tall trees and swung around, and I did somersaults, too. So, sometimes, I could have been in a circus of my imagination. In a real circus, the lion tamers were always neat to watch. I loved the acrobats, of course. The clowns were always great. But what could I be?
It’s like a question in a job interview. The interviewer sits across the desk, watching the computer screen, while you sit in the chair that is set a little low, fielding the questions with the window light in your eyes. Perhaps you’ve had the tricky ones like this: if you were in the circus, what job would you like to have? (The wrong answer is “clown, ” of course.) In my childhood, reaching out limb-to-limb, like Tarzan, or hanging by my knees from a high tree limb, risking my little life if I fell, I could think of myself as a flyer on the trapeze. But what about the catcher, who also hangs by the knees and swings out to meet the perilous flyer suspended in space.
The flyer gets all the attention, but the suspense that stops our breath is what happens if the catcher misses the catch and the flyer falls. It’s thrilling in a circus. But it’s different in real life where the human condition has inspired spiritual philosophers for ages. I recall the old metaphor that we’re all on a circus trapeze. We climb a high ladder and leap alone into space carrying all our hopes, dreams, and happiness; and when wounded, we fall in pain, disappointment, or sorrow. Of course, I, too, have been such a flyer that fell, and I struggled to ascend the ladder and leap again.
One evening, thinking about the circus and my childhood’s play, I recalled reading a theologian’s observation how important it is for the wounded among us that there is someone to take their hands. When we reach out to grasp other hands in ours, like the catcher hanging by the knees from a trapeze, and pull them in to safety, I believe it to be a magickal act of humanness.
Voices from many traditions call us. For example, Shantiveda, a Buddhist teacher of the eighth century, wrote “Whoever wishes to quickly rescue himself and another should practice the supreme mystery: exchanging of himself and the other.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian executed by the Nazis, interpreted the Christian Sermon on the Mount as a call to discipleship of service. Ram Dass, the psychologist and spiritual teacher, discourses about Karma Yoga, action to help others. From such voices as these, calling us to action, where could I find such a voice in Wicca? I found only a version of the Charge of the God that was scribbled in my Book of Shadows: “An’ it harm any, do what ye must.” That, too, is a call to act, to aid, to do what we must for others. Many spiritual paths think alike.
Perhaps I’m still a flyer, a proto-mystic spiritually, I guess, a pilgrim on a journey, leaping out into space in a somersault with my spirit. It’s the places my spirit takes me that define the parameters of my being. I meet with friends in secret and shielded by the night; but this world, in which all life is inter-connected, is the sacred gift of the Goddess. We must live in community with this world, my friend.
That’s not always obvious to us. The wounds I carry are from the injuries I have caused others and such injuries I have received from others. It’s easy in our digital age, and as I suppose it must have been in ages past, to look away with thoughtless complacency from daily human suffering. But when we pause to think about what we see in the world, or rather, we haven’t seen, then maybe we can open up to what we must do. It’s not an easy path. When we know people who struggle alone in the quicksand of dark feelings, anger, resentment, or depression, and then when we accept such wounds that are within us, then we can feel empathy blossom. It’s a magickal moment. But this isn’t self-pity; it’s not just boosting your self-esteem or confidence. It’s grounding, awareness, mindfulness. Compassion for yourself is the beginning of compassion for others.
A gentleman whom I know, a retired engineer who sells insurance now, has been teaching himself Chinese. One of the phrases I saw him practice with an engineer’s precision and patience is “Go slow now.” It takes forty-seven strokes, he said, and means: “Take care of yourself.” That is, first, we’re in our own healing hands. I think it should be a first step in healing before we can take other hands in ours.
The voice of action I sought before was always within me but lost on the earth-path I tread for a while. Perhaps my job in the circus of life may be to open myself to the possibility I could catch other flyers before they fall. It may mean a late-course change of occupation into one of the helping professions, probably counseling. I know it won’t be easy.
One warm Saturday, I held the hand of that child within me and let him out to play. It’s abuse to neglect your inner child. In the shadow of more impending lay-offs at work, I’ll be taking better care of both of us, slow down some. I’m not sure I’ll claim we climbed trees; but please don’t be too surprised that we meandered our way to a carnival.
Blessed Be To All That Is,
Paladin of the Waxing Moon
Location: Colma, California
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