Restless. He searched for what he knew not. Tired from his journey he lay down in a wood.

He dreamed. In his dream he saw things for which he had no words and the telling of it is difficult. He saw that . . .
There is a place hidden within the view of all.
It occupies neither space nor time.
It is a place between places.
It is everywhere and it is nowhere.
It lies on the periphery of vision, of consciousness.
Yet it beckons without ceasing.
Its voice never wavers.
Calling .. . .Calling . . . Waiting . . . Waiting on the boundary between the Shadowlands and the birthplace and nursery of dreams.

In a secret wood, hidden beneath the veil of the mundane, the ordinary, there lies an enchanted pool.
The pool is nestled at the base of a flawless alabaster pillar.
Its workmanship is an act of love and beauty.
Its form is haunting
It is as though the craftsman knew beauty for her own sake and fashioned a sister.
The pillars lines arouse and stir and encourage the eyes upward.
Upward toward a crown of spun gold.
Golden like the first rays of the sun filling the horizon.

The pool was hidden long ago, soon after the first dew of creation was returned to the air.
It was hidden for it was a place of enchantment.
It is a wondrous and terrible place.
One does not enter lightly into the pool.
For here one walks the razors edge between life and death.
The pool is at once a veil, a boundary, and a doorway.
It is a veil which conceals.
It is a boundary and barrier to protect the Shadowlands from being utterly destroyed by the Real.
It is a doorway through which one of the Shadow people may enter the Real for a time.

Most who find the place never find their way to the pool, but all who do are profoundly altered.
Lesser souls who see the alabaster pillar are drawn upward to the golden crown.
They never pause to consider that there could be something more hidden in view.
Their faltering passion only stirs the flesh and they are blinded to the eternal essence of the place.
They are too easily distracted, appetites unrefined.
Greedily, swiftly, and without pause they accept the glimmer as though it were gold.
They consume stale bread and brackish water as though feasting.

Beauty of form can distract or tempt one away from the pool.
The first impulse is to follow the fine lines of the column as it draws the eyes upward and away from the deepening.
At the top there is glorious light but no substance.
There hope is kindled, excitement sparked but not contained.
A dull ache fills the void.
One feels cheated by the other worldly light.
It glitters just out of reach and seems only to taunt and to tease and to diminish.

Base lusts or momentary distractions can sooth the hollow aching disappointment.
Business, morality, achievement, or indulgence can suffice for a season.
But in the end the hand is empty for all its grasping,
grasping for the Real in the wrong direction.
Aching for something solid to fill the hollow, arid emptiness, many seek new and grander distractions.
They reason that they must try harder or seek more exotic indulgences.
Surely the answer must lie in becoming better, busier, nobler, or despairing all and becoming enthralled to impulse.
So close to, yet and eternity away from anything of substance.

The separation and divorce of spirit, mind, and flesh screams and rages for reunification.
There is a point within the chaos somewhere between despair and an audacious rage which demands an answer to the question.
“What indeed is the nature of the universe?”
“Is life a cosmic tease or is there an ultimate answer to the longings of my heart?”
When life as has been known no longer matters and a desperate dangerous passion usurps the former, then one may enter the pool.
“Is there a pearl of great price?”
The question is moot in the face of “There must be a pearl and I will have it or die.”
There must be an answer to the wild hunger of the heart.
For if not existence is a sham and has no meaning.
Either the dream is true or nothing is true.
At this point the pool is not about choosing.
It is the only option.

In order to enter the pool one must turn away from the pillar and its glimmer of hope.
But, to turn away, to resist the first impulse creates a tear.
The effort is monumental and becomes more so as frustration rises.
The familiar disappointment threatens.
Memory of all the potential objects, goals, people, and passions, which did not fit the innocent expectations rises and looms like doom.
The scent, the taste, the shape, can be touched but not grasped.
One is caught between idolatry and bitter disappointment.
The fleeting comforts beckon and tempt like sirens, calling one to forgetfulness.
The gravity of the familiar increases with each step away from the pillar.

Perhaps it is a function of age and sometimes great loss that can clarify one’s longings.
Age in that at some point the familiar material or sensual no longer distracts one from the deeper longings.
Great loss tends to force an accounting and a sifting.
The heart is sometimes laid bare in the absence of the lost object.
Until then the faint hope of final satisfaction remains a specter at the edge of awareness, a distant memory, but the wanting remains.

Each soul is unique.
The shape, tone, theme, and direction are its own.
The universal is not the plot and character but rather the process.
It starts in the mundane of the Shadowlands and moves through fire, ashes, gold, into the Real.
All desire and yearn for the hunger to be satiated.
But, the answer to the question of existence lies outside the bandage of time which creates and upholds the vaporous structure of the Shadows.
It lies beneath the waters of the pool.
And until the pool is accomplished life will be lived as a wraith, a vapor, forever hollow, aching for the Real.

FIRE

The pool is a place of clarity.
What for years has been muffled by distraction and counterfeit hope –
What has lain dormant, neglected, shamed by disappointment and assumed rejection – What has been observed if at all, as ill defined shadows haunting the edge of Being –
That core, that true self rises with urgency.
Passivity is quickened.
The slumbering soul awakens, hungry to be filled.
Joy of living springs forth as Being leaves the edge of shadows and claims the center.

The clarity is startling.
Senses are overwhelmed.
Words are inadequate to describe the experience of the pool.
Symbol and metaphor provide but poor representations of the thing.
When speaking of the Real from the Shadowlands the language must not be taken seriously.
The images must be loosely held, for to mistake the images of the thing for the thing itself is to profane the sacred.

When the distractions of the Shadowlands wear thin and the heart grows sick one may enter the pool.
The mumblings of the heart, the groanings yet unuttered, the unthought known comes into focus.
Here eternity fills one with the answer to all appetites.
It is the place of yearning and passion and possibility.
Those who find their way into the pool are taken out of time and place.
They enter into a wild place of wonder and possibility where words are living things and reality is spoken into existence.
It is a place of poetry, emotion, image, and spirit.
It is the awakening of one’s innate, deep soul’s yearning, its passion, and potency.
It is the nursery of dreams and those dreams are the mate to the hunger of the heart.
The experience is one of homecoming, completion, questions answered, appetites fulfilled.
There is satisfaction to the point of ecstasy.
All of this exists within the context and energized by joy.
Tears are sweet, kisses deep, and embraces complete.

The dream or hunger may take the form of intimacy, power, adventure, or base objects.
But in the end the attachment of the hunger to the Real is that of a Lover and their beloved.
That is the nature of all desire.
To be intimate
To be thrilled by the adventure
To have power
To hold and possess and object
All of these are diluted metaphors of love.
To be, to have, to hold are states of being and action which are seeds of reality.
To be is to love, to desire, to take action.
All else is not life.
It is not Real.
Being is risky and the attempt may bring life or death or both.

Experience of the Real is exquisite for the Shadow people.
It is exquisite in its intense pleasure.
Like a drowning man in a frenzied struggle for air breaking the surface and filling himself with sweet life giving breath.
It is also exquisite in its intense pain.
For the shadow people can not bear the Real.
They must have it if at all in miniscule doses.
The Real is too large to fit into time.
The Real is eternal and time is too fragile a thing to contain it.
What time offers is limits and at these limits corrections can be made.
The pleasure is soon overcome by the pain.
The more one wants a thing the more terribly it hurts when it is denied.
Thus, exquisitely wonderful and exquisitely terrible is the place.
The wonderful and terrible process, if followed through, will gradually refine the potentiality of the Shadow people into something which can contain and exist in the Real.

Inside the Real the Romance is experienced.
The Lover, possesses such strength that his thought is only for his Beloved.
His confidence frees him to focus on her.
Her beauty drives him.
She is his alone and his only desire is to serve her, completely satisfying her every want.
She, confident in the heart of her lover is transparent to him.
No detail escapes his notice.
She has captured his attention.
She is desired.
He is consumed by her.
His complete devotion to her leaves him exposed and vulnerable.
She, confident in her lover is fixed on him.
She is free from the need to be on guard.
She opens herself completely and takes him inside herself to nurture and protect.
She knows that his strength depends on her response.

See him in the finest linen.
His hair and body is anointed with scented oils.
See her in a silken yellow gown.
Black pearls adorn her graceful neck.
An obsidian belt hugs her waist like a lover.
His gaze studies her to the last intimate detail.
She watches him and knows his longing.
His desire quickens her.
She wants to feel his touch.
She wants to guide him to secret unseen places.
He is intoxicated by her scent, her taste, the way she fits him.
She is fine and delicate in every detail.
He is strength and kindness and mirrors her beauty to herself.
She knows herself as herself and the glory of her shakes the foundations of the universe.

From this place she responds to him.
He now is everything.
She is response to his growing need.
And the growing ardor does not embarrass.
Rather it ennobles with grace in every movement and mannerism.
He tells her of the loveliness of her curve.
She exposes another and guides him to it.
His energy arouses a response of anxious longing in her.
She must be near him, to smell his hair, to touch his face, to experience his strength, to hold him closely as to pull him into her being.
She is now the only one.
She is exalted above all others.
She saw herself in his eyes and was lifted up.
She felt a goddess.
He a god.
The dance transforms them.
They are lifted out of the material, the baser elements.
Their true selves are glimpsed.
They are exquisite creatures of energy and light.
Their dance is sublime, eternal, the summit of intimacy.
Hunger satiated – now restful joy.

ASHES

He awoke from his dream. And he wept. He wept the tears of an abandoned child, lost and motherless. As exquisite was the pleasure so to was the pain. He had been unaware until this point that he could desire so greatly. And to have now a focused vision, an unshakeable knowledge that the dream had substance was almost more than he could bear. The mere hint, touch, taste, and possibility of what he had seen seemed more real than anything he had experienced in his waking life. He desired. Raw and searing was the pain. He no longer had a place in the Shadowlands but neither could he dwell in the Real. He was cast adrift, unable to return to the former life. He was changed. He no longer fit into the Shadowlands yet he could not cross the divide which kept him from his dream. He found himself in a place between and it seemed no life at all. He now existed between despair and rage and ashes. He lay down, and dreamed . . .

Loss and the threat of it terrorizes, it freezes the blood.
Rivers of fear burst forth out of the belly.
At once alert and confused.
Cold bile rises.
Panic, anxious nausea saturates thought, feeling, and motion.

Then –

Silence . . . . Seething . . . . Stillness.
Ashes, grey and black fill the throat, choking off life.
Now only barren sterile ache fills the chest.
The dream denied.
The tributary of life blocked off, rerouted.
Wasteland is all.

To want is to hurt.
To need, to ache, to long for is to set fire between spirit, mind, and flesh.
It consumes.
But to not desire is a walking death.
It is the cold barren monotony of habit and ritual which numbs and masquerades as living.
Thus, the choice.
But god it is a terrible choice, terrible like trying to draw breath in the vacuum of space.
It is a searing fire and an ache which threatens to break the heart.
As exquisite is the pleasure so too is the pain.
As all desire is answered so too is dread.
Hurts long forgotten arise with vengeance.
Fears thought overcome walk again like the undead.

The Shadowlands are a vapor and cannot contain the Real.
The Shadow people can not bring the Real there.
They must grow enough to contain the Real within themselves.
Until then the Real tends to split into opposites and fragment into caricatures of Itself.
No longer whole but at war.
The splitting births the archetypes which haunt our dreams and fuel our fables.
The touch of the exquisite, keen as a blade will slice open the soul initiating a wondrous and terrible pain.
And even the pain seems more alive and real than the mundane walking death of the ritual distractions used to fill the emptiness.
It becomes difficult to let go of even the excruciating loveliness when it carries the scent of life.
Depression then is not always hopelessness.
Combined with an anger which refuses to yield, it can become heroic.
Heroic in that it refuses to surrender to the mundane.
It will not let go until it is blessed.
It will have life or it will have death.
There can be only one.

It as been said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is among you. Can you not perceive it?” But where is this space? How does one go there? It has also been said that the Kingdom is a “seed growing secretly”. This seed grows, if at all, in the soul. And it only happens in fits and starts, clumsy, and in ignorance, and with much pain.
Desire uncontained within the Shadowlands will tear apart and become control, possession, jealously, or one of many other of its partial manifestations.
From the Shadowlands the Real is apprehended as polarities and opposites.
In reality what is experienced is a glimpse of the thing from one side only.
Perspective is impossible for the small fleeting Shadow people.
They see and act out of one side or the other.
Holding both together is beyond their strength until they grow.
The paradox is too great a thing for the children of the Shadows.
They must learn to live in it.
The place between strength and weakness, confidence and insecurity, being full of grace and neediness, possessing and letting go, this place is the doorway into the Real.

These things were too much for him. He felt small and without hope. Despair claimed him. He turned, laid down his head and slept. He saw . . . .

See the sad hollow man, unkempt, greedy, full of lust.
See the terrible granite hard rage of a woman untouched, unseen, and unloved.
Their dance is flesh not spirit.
Their focus is their own need not the other.
The energy between them does not lift them beyond their grasping, beyond themselves.
They are ground down, trapped beneath the baser elements.
Grasping, clawing, desperate for a taste of the sublime.

He awoke and thought about all that he had seen. He knew that he could not return to the Shadowlands but neither could he make his dream alive. He railed against the injustice. He was shamed by his powerlessness. He began to grieve what was lost. He sobbed, he raged, he felt the ugly tear, that rip that separates what is from what ought to be. It seemed immoral to have been given a dream, a vision, and not be able to live it. The last thought he thought before falling exhausted to the ground was “There must be a way . . . .”

He awoke disoriented and unsure. The terrible pain did not consume him but neither was it diminished. The glorious desire did not enthrall him but remained just under the surface of his heart. He found himself suspended between total despair and blind hope, white hot rage and playful laughter. He saw that he was buoyant in the pool, suspended between the Real and the Shadowlands.

GOLD

The purpose of the Real is to manifest itself.
The Dream is true.
The dance of the lovers is the nature of the universe.
What is experienced by the Shadow people as injustice is only doubt fed by the illusion of time.
The manifestation of the Dream is already an established fact.
Truth, love, honor, and beauty are not meant to tease but rather are meant to function as heralds.
They call the Shadow people into Being.
They suggest ways of living in which the Real may become manifest.
They suggest a morality that is not about right and wrong in a sterile sense.
Morality, if that is the word, is to function as a path and protector of the small bastions of beauty that can manifest within the Shadowlands.
But, they are as fragile as a soap bubble floating on the wind.
All dreams come true and are manifest in the Real.
Within time the Real manifests as swiftly as the Shadow people progress.
The attempt to force, clinging to what is not yet will force a premature birth.
It may kill the very thing the heart loves.
Grasping, clinging, attempting to make reality fit into some place too small will burst the bubble.
It will break open the cocoon, spoiling the emerging dream.
What is left is faith in the dream and the dreams’ power to manifest itself in places small and large within the Shadowlands.

He was sad yet expectant. He had little direction yet he was sure about his dream. He loved across space and time confident in its final consummation. He began to sing a new song. He sang a song of hope, and a song of faith. A song he learned suspended somewhere between the Real and the Shadowlands.

My love is coming to me.
My love’s thoughts are only of me.

My love is coming to me.
Love assured, doubts evaporate
Next to the fire that is my love.

Tender and intimate words of comfort
still my restless heart.

The plans are fixed
but I must wait.

My love is coming to me.
Sweet longing deepens my desire.
I am content to wait
For I can see no other love.

Whose shape, whose fragrance, whose taste
fits the longing of my soul?
None but my love.

So I wait and the waiting
is ardor perfected in faith.
I trust in the heart of my beloved.

Now passing fancies are smoke on the breeze.
Distractions vanish, clinging diminishes
to a hushed expectancy.

The power of the imposter vanishes like
fog in the bright morning sun
when I imagine the joining with my love.

I can wait.
I will wait, for I now know
the answer to my soul’s longing.

My love is coming to me.