Poem: Appalachian Trail Existential Journey

Poem: Appalachian Trail Existential Journey
Rising up early dawn
breaking camp, packing up
driving VW Beetle up twisting road to Fontana
hiking across the dam to the trail head
drudging up the long, wet, steep, winding trail
breaking wilderness calm
seeping water down the slate side mountain
drinking bees in the hot sun light
stretching away the peaceful green valley far below
going to the trail fork
slipping down the steep, overgrown, wet path on our bottoms
descending to the tailwaters’ edge
settling in a damp, earthy spot exhausted
falling asleep before sundown
awakening to the Great Void
experiencing such all encompassing darkness
experiencing such all encompassing silence
experiencing such all encompassing harmonic flow
cosmic being in the universe; Tat Tvam Asi
Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
June, 1974
(reader’s note: I wrote this poem in 1974 shortly after our hike on the Appalachian Trail near Fontana Village, North Carolina in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Shortly after this, Cathey Stone’s beloved Yellow VW Beetle sadly broke down never to be revived. She still misses that car πŸ˜‰)

reflection: spirituality and faith

Reflection: on our personal experience of spiritual emergence, the dark night of the soul, and transpersonal experience

Reflection: on our personal experience of spiritual emergence, the dark night of the soul, and transpersonal experience

I have sensed recently that some of my FB friends are undergoing spiritual awakenings. This is something we can all share in common in our becoming whole human beings. Sometimes these spiritual experiences can seem confusing, painful, and like a bad thing.

Let me share two perspectives I find very useful in processing such experiences.

First a quote from the poet Christian Wiman on our need to talk honestly of God:
β€œIt is a strange thing how sometimes merely to talk honestly of God, even if it is only to articulate our feelings of separation and confusion, can bring peace to our spirits. You thought you were unhappy because this or that was off in your relationship, this or that was wrong in your job, but the reality is that your sadness stemmed from your aversion to, your stalwart avoidance of, God. The other problems may very well be true, and you will have to address them, but what you feel when releasing yourself to speak of the deepest needs of your spirit is the fact that no other needs could be spoken of outside of that context. You cannot work on the structure of your life if the ground of your being in unsure.”
― Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

And secondly a quote from the psychiatrist, Gerald Mays, on how spiritual liberation takes place in hidden ways which is profoundly good:
“The dark night is a profoundly good thing. It is an ongoing spiritual process in which we are liberated from attachments and compulsions and empowered to live and love more freely. Sometimes this letting go of old ways is painful, occasionally even devastating. But this is not why the night is called ‘dark.’ The darkness of the night implies nothing sinister, only that the liberation takes place in hidden ways, beneath our knowledge and understanding. It happens mysteriously, in secret, and beyond our conscious control. For that reason it can be disturbing or even scary, but in the end it always works to our benefit.”
Let us embrace our wholeness of mind/body/spirit