Empty Spaces

This is one of the selections from my recent release, Words Transcending Themselves.

1

In a single second, the voyager spacecraft travels eleven miles through the darkness.

In one minute it travels the distance between Boston and Richmond, Virginia.

In one hour, it covers the distance around the equator.

In one month, that is a trip to the moon.  And back to the Earth. And back to the moon.  And to the Earth, again.

 

But the hundreds, thousands, millions of miles that it actually covers

These are through an empty dark:

Even The scientists  call that place

cosmic purgatory.

Nothing, and nothing, and more of nothing.

 

In 2025 there will not be enough energy left within 

To power a single instrument on the vessel.  

The blackness outside  will finally have its way with the world within it.

 

If we had aimed it at a star in the first place,

It would have been arriving for a lunch date

Sometime in February.  around the year 72, thousand three hundred.  eighteen.

 

2.

All the things I know and think I know.

All my feelings.  Memories. Words.

Begin, of course, 

In fifteen centimers located beneath my eyes, 

Between my ears

 within my skull

100 billion neurons weighing less than 3 pounds.

 

In the beginning there was an impulse.

Follow it with me

In through a dendrite, 

Away past the nucleus

Down the myalin sheath, 

And out those axons…

 

But between each of the cells…

There is this open space.

The synapse is a gap bridged  by neurotransmitters.

 these countless empty  spaces, these darknesses between the neurons

I declare 

That they be named 

 the tiny  purgatories of the mind.

 

3.

I am thinking about open spaces today.

I declare that as above, so below

As it is outside

So it is within

 

There are these

Billions of voyagers traveling billions of synapses

Each with three radioisotope thermoelectric generators

Propelling her among an oort cloud made of  serotonin, glutamate, norepinephrine and endorphin.

 

And I declare that the emptiness,

The pause, the waiting, and the anticipation…

These are the things which might just redeem us.

 

I am thinking about open spaces today.

And I declare that our one great hope

Is in nothing, and nothing, and nothing at all.

 

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Memory, Foreknowledge

Here is the latest selection from my collection, Words Transcending Themselves.

This Earth:

Mud and rock.

 Worms.  Shit.

 Roots probing out like fingers that just found their way into gloves.

 

This earth,

Where the light filters green through dewey leaves and lands on spider webs.

 

This earth, 

Where my boots leave their tracks.

And the frog thrums.  And the mosquito sucks.

And the breeze and the bees carry pollen

 

This earth,

Where the dead baby field mouse 

Feeds the bugs and the microbes and the scavengers.

 

Memory and foreknowledge are the same things here.

Prophecy is history here, and history is prophecy

We grow old and we die and we grow young then.

 

Morning and noon and night.

Summer.  Fall. Winter.  Spring.

Chase.  Pounce. Eat.

Clouds, then rain, then sun,

Moon and sun, waxing moon, waning moon, moon and sun…

 

These cycles,

Fractal themselves. 

Infinite repetitions at every scale imaginable

 

Consider, for example that rain:

Drops came down.  

Lightning split open the sky.

Ripped A fissure to Elsewhere,

A crack in the stuff of existence.

It release the thunder: a roar from some other world.

And then it is silent again.

 

This is the place where stories are born.

This is the womb of myth.

It is the swampy fertile birthing ground of poetry…

 

If I will let this background become my foreground.

If I will submit to the dissolution of  the line between setting and character,

Between theme and plot.

Between me and you.

 

some magic will move through me.

 

A flute looks like such a small thing.

Out of context, you might call it an ugly metal little tube.

But behold the glories that rise up from it.

As the column of air moves up it and through

 

A Reckoning With the Nature of Silence

This is the first poem in my recently released collection Words Transcending Themselves.  Click the title for more information.  I will be placing several favorites from the book on this blog.

1.

There were no sounds.

 

2.

Your presence is tolerated.

No one will ever tell you that your kind is here to be seen and not heard.

Why make anyone uncomfortable by saying it outloud?

We all know this is, what it is.

 Your presence here will be allowed

But not your participation 

Not your questions.

Or your contributions.

Where is your gratitude for being let into the room at all?

 

3.

And yet.

Anything could happen in the quiet!

lips pursed as if to kiss the air.

Who knows what will come next.

It could be  the thing that finally makes everything make sense.

 

There was an empty place inside.

And the words still echoed in there.

I don’t love you.

I never did love you.

You weren’t enough.

But that was only on the inside that she heard those things.

There were no sounds on the outside.

Everything had already been said.

 

5.

And yet….

Have you ever heard the snow fall onto a lake that hasn’t yet frozen?

A lovely living white noise.

At the edge of hearing.

Or maybe you are only imagining it.

Because now, there is only you.  

In a field with a lake in the winter at night.

It is so quiet here.

 

6.

he saw their eyes heavy with fear and worry.

And he tried to hold back the moan.

It all hurt, though.  

Everything hurt.  

Mostly he was ready for it all to be over

The body blotted out his best intentions

he moaned.

Gasped.  Clutched out for a hand with his wrinkled hand.

Her heart stopped before they touched.

There were no more noises here.

 

7.

And yet!

The first time 

I released my thinking away truly.

Placed it gently on a river like a floating leaf.

And just let it go.

The first time I sat in this True Silence.

I glimpsed myself truly

Just a brief reflection in the river.

Then the breeze came in, and wrinkled the water up.

But I had seen it.

The me behind me.

The observer of the fools parade of thoughts.

 

8.

You think its the worst thing.

When they stick the filthy rags in your mouth

To muffle out the screaming.

 

It’s not though.

The worst is when they offer to  take the gag away 

And you agree to be quiet

Because you have learned your lesson

 

9

And yet!

I might end this right here.

I might say these words and then stop..

Right here.

I might open this

Wide.

 

White space, pure on the page.

A quiet can fall among us and draw us together:

 

 Silence, a curse and a gift

Here, take it.  It is yours.

 

The Latest

When I began blogging, bunches of years ago, this little site was where I started.  I cast a pretty wide net: theology, politics, culture, and poetry.

A few years ago, I mostly narrowed my focus in blogging.  I came back here, to Jeff’s Deep Thoughts, for a few things that did not quite fit into the Contemplace.  At the Contemplace, I shared my observations about meditation, prayer, and mysticism.

I continue to narrow my focus.  I have put a whole lot of sweat and tears (can’t honestly say I shed any blood) into The Faith-ing Project.  This site is intended to be a bit of a playground for the mind,  a training gym for the soul.  It is not directly about my journey at all.  Mostly, my hope is to assist others by exposing them to spiritual exercises and contemplative activities.

Why don’t you come and check it out?

https://faithingproject.wordpress.com/

An Opportunity

One of the things I have learned over the last couple years is that spiritual practices like meditation can be life-changing.  This lead to me posting less here at Jeff’sdeepthoughts and more at The Contemplace.

The latest evolution in my spiritual journey and my online musings is the Faith-ing Project.  My vision is a place that can offer readers a new spiritual practice every day for a year.  I have been writing, organizing, and compiling for months.  I am just about ready to go!

The Faith-ing Project does not yet have a home or website.  But it does have a need.  And that need might just be you.  Are you:

  • Interested in spiritual practices?
  • Able to give these practices about 15 minutes a day?
  • Willing to offer feedback, criticism, and push back?

If this sound like you, please email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com   ask me your questions, or just let me know you are interested.

I am putting together a team of testers who will receive an email with each days practice.  In exchange for trying the practices out and sharing your experiences,  I will give testers free access to content that will eventually become paid on the site, and I will post thank yous, and links to content you might wish to direct others to.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff

Sitting in the Wreckage

We broke up with the Evangelical church.

For a while we tried to stay on good terms, but it didn’t appear that a friendship  was going to work out either. As I found myself further and further away from the church that helped me discover the importance of Jesus, I decided I needed to express myself publicly.

I suspect if you are reading this, you might feel the same way, at least a little bit.

To be honest, I wish that everything that I needed to say had been said here.

In some ways that was easy to write.  Those feelings are easy to feel. But that was an important place to begin.   I am proud, in a tiny little way, to step in line with a long line of Godly prophets.

Because Those powers and principalities around us needed to be named as anti-Christs.  But after this is done? I think it becomes time to focus on us. The folks who have broken up, the folks who have given up on the idea that we can be friends.

Because the thing is, most of the prophets did not do very well with introspection: Jonah clung to his prejudice even till the very last verse of his story.  Elijah had an emotional breakdown after successes and miracles. John began to doubt Jesus as his circumstances turned difficult.

 

Aspiring prophets in our culture have an extra challenge.  We are not very good at giving mourning and lament it’s due time.  Most of the time we try and rush these processes. But because we do, there is also a part of us that never moves on, never leaves the dead relationship in the past.  All of us just keep looking back at the destruction, no matter how many people around us are turning into piles of salt.

As recently as twenty years ago, the term ‘deconstruction.’ was saved for obtuse philosophy courses.  Now, it’s so much a part of our lexicon that we hear it on cooking shows!  Deconstructing is largely the domain of the prophet. But if we end in deconstruction, all we do is walk among the wreckage of the Tower of Babel, never willing to move on, to try and create something new.

It’s kind of sad.  I can describe myself as a post-evangelical.  But all that does is describe where I was.  It does say anything about where I am, or where I am going. 

Where, my friends, is our reconstruction?   

It may not be time for yours yet.  But I think it’s time for mine. And the truth?  The truth is I really don’t want to. It is easy and safe here in the wreckage.  But there is nothing there for me anymore. So let’s walk up and out of the dust together.