Afterglow of Holy Ghost

See the Holy Spirit,DSCN1746

Swathed in bonds of human flesh,


and run for Holy Grail-

His Eden Self-

on the Trail

of the Holy Ghost.

In many contexts the words “spirit” and “ghost” refer to the same thing. They are the same word in some languages. And yet, when I feel into the often synonymous phrases “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit,” they carry distinct connotations. For me, Holy Ghost carries a sense of something apart from what is human, something discrete, dead, distant or deprived. “Holy Spirit” on the other hand invokes for me an eternal, living, accessible, even essential and indwelling consciousness.

Historically and mythically, the Holy Grail is a query (or ideal) apart and nearly unattainable. And yet, in esoteric metaphor, it is actually not apart, it is within. It is a treasure uncovered less by outer journey than inner, the jewel in the heart that turns the world to heaven.

I could not help but contemplate this today as, for the first time, I hiked the Holy Ghost Trail above Pecos, NM.   While each day I do what I can to rest into Holy Spirit, there are still days when the whethers and weather of the world and the body seem to beleaguer and impair ease and clarity; and I can often sense when the best remedy is time in Eden, apparently solitary, but less alone than among many of my own species.


As I have gone through the Christing process underway these recent years, I’ve known days when conditions could not be improved. Remedy came not from changing circumstances but changing focus. I used to run for the hills to change or out-run sensation or circumstance. Now when I go “wild,” go for an infusion of nature, it is to bear witness, to allow myself nourishment, to validate what is not suffering and hear it communicate in the languages of the wind, water, tree, light, and sacred geometry. I do not go to dump rancor but to say thank you.

Today I was so struck by just how lucky we are in this part of the world: So much beautiful and relatively untouched wild-lands to commune with and in. It is Labor Day weekend, and the area I visited was relatively teeming with tents. But there was plenty of space, and I saw all shapes and colors of man and dog, and I saw them all as so very, very lucky. 

As I observed my experience, and heard the poet inside distilling it into descriptive phrases, I realized that even among those who could not be there in this moment, any who could hear or read my words and remember their own experience of these phenomena, were very lucky.

Oh, Lucky Pilgrim,

I thought,

Do you remember this?

For if you recognize what I recount,  feel it within yourself,

Then you are Blessed, indeed, to have experienced it.

And then, after hiking over an hour, I sat on a log and took dictation of the poet’s reportage. Nothing revelatory, just Celebratory.

Long strides gripping asphalt, then humus.

Strong legs climb the trail, slowly stretching and breaking the bonds of inertia.

The bellows of breath expanding belly, lungs, permission, remembrance.

Rushing blood, flushing doldrums, anxiety, toxins from the veins, from the cells, from the pores, from the mind.

Crust of habit, smallness, irritation, complacency moisten and loosen with the sweat and stretching flesh, and tumble and dissolve into air and earth and the witness of giggling aspens.

The “tired” of a child gives way to rising strength, deeper endurance.

The knowing child of Heaven merges with the Wise Earth.

And on you walk, up, steady and steep,

Brushed by greeting lines of rose, oak, geranium, clover….

Aster, daisy and sunflower, manes thrown open to sun and sky, meet your gaze and draw forth the smile that blossoms on your face in contagious celebration. Summer wanes, yet Joy remains. Live, Drink, Love, Dance.

You taste the flavor of their colors, fading but fearless.

Crossing the stream, one, two, three, four, five times, losing count…,balancing on logs buffed barkless, as you entrust your privileged dryness to them; and they laugh and rock beneath you above the coursing waters, yet in good sport, they see you across in wakeful, silent thanks.

Pines grow larger and trail levels off, at last, as you sail on now among thigh-high bracken, slaloming around felled trees and weaving among the standing.

Sensing the silence seeping deeper in– through feet, eyes, ears, heart, belly-button.

Drawn onward by the steady ovation of a thousand breathing, breezing trees, and as you progress, this distant applause fades seamlessly into the rising sigh of the frothing stream down the ravine: Water and air meet and share their secrets; distant ovation becomes insistent intimation, and you are entrusted with gossip and gospel. You hear it like a mother tongue echoing deep in the cave of your heart.

And the impulse to move, to reach a destination, gives way to the sense of having arrived already, of stillness.   So you sit…and you receive…and you sleep. And you wake, one with the wood. You know you could stay here forever. You know you carry here with you. And by and by, you know that your brother tree, sister fern and the mouse that darts before your feet, are better dressed for the coming winter. You accept your humanness again, slipping it back on with your backpack. And you turn to meet the trail that guided you here.

You greet the new vividness of where you have been, recognizing it more than yourself, for it is you who is different– though the tree-moss does grow thicker fur on this side of the trees.

Feeling sated, quite rich enough, you spy all the round discs of fungus sprouting from the bellies of fallen logs, just waiting to line your pockets with leprechaun’s treasure. You almost hear cascades of laughter, mocking “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Yet, everyone is wealthy here.



Indra God of La Vita



            In recent meditations, and as I walk in the world, endeavoring to allow a greater light to work through me, rather than micromanaging my experience, my security and my service, I increasingly the sense of never, with my limited faculties of perception, having the whole picture. And the more I might “try,” the more narrow my vision becomes, as the focus is narrowed by the sphincter of mind.

            And I’m so aware that the more I operate from the position of someone directing, the less I am in touch with the ambient sense of connection to the whole. The more I am controller the less I am conscious conduit. This is nothing new.

            We, as beings with an apparent location in time and space, an apparent history, an apparent direction, become myopically, unconsciously impaired in our perpetual access invisible power and connection. There is a Zen term ShokoKyakka, that refers to the ground we stand on, the mysterious source of our being, which is ever out of sight to us. We can only know and receive from it by trusting, and resting open to it.  

            Another classic image is Indra’s web, the web of creation: all of us dew drops on that web, living intersections of infinite threads. We are ultimately the web itself, the dew drops, the threads and the space between, and we are also the Spider who weaves it all. If you look at a dew drop, you can see the world around it reflected in it. But when we self-identify as dew drop, gazing out at the world or at the web around us, we can lose the sense of being of the web and forget our continuity with all we see and can’t see.

            These themes were drifting about in my being this morning when I stepped out onto the porch and caught sight of a beautiful spider web catching he morning sun. The web seemed structurally complete, but in the blinding golden light illuminating it, I could never see the whole web at once. I could move about and catch different quadrants and strands, but physical-world factors conspired to make a comprehensive view impossible for my mortal eyes.

            It’s a beautiful analogy for the paradox of a spirit’s human embodiment.

And as I looked at this single spider’s web, I was aware that there is a similar web on the back deck, which rarely catches the light so well, and which is also impossible to take in in its full glory all at once. And as I focus on either one of these webs, it seems to be quite separate from me, as I stand on a patch of ground I cannot see, surveying a microcosm of the macrocosm, which seems complete without me.            

            But if I close my human eyes, let go of the need to be someone who sees or understands, I become a part of the web, gently floating on the breeze, until some fly –a ringing phone, a grumbling tummy, inspiration for a poem —stirs my inner spider toward it’s next intersection in the web, toward its next dance partner in the Mystery. And with my every move, a most delicate filament unfurls infinitely forward and back from the invisible center and source of my being.


How much of the web do you see?