As Above, So Below

Martin Hürlimann, Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France, 1937.
Martin Hürlimann, Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France, 1937.

I am sitting in the whisper of a vaulted cathedral. The noise of my own mind is all that there appears to be. Once in a while, tourist’s footsteps can be heard echoing through the massive room. Sometimes the mild disturbance of the footsteps captures me. When they do, my attention is brought up to my head as though I was a cork rising to the surface of a body of water.

I remember that I am in a church; that I am here now.
I keep bringing myself back from the great distances that thought can travel.

No expectations.
Just sitting here, remaining active on the inside.
I sense the hard surface of the wooden pew, I breathe in the heavy scent of the cathedral’s atmosphere with its vast history of contemplation.

Can I have contact with a sacred substance?

The church bell rings out an invitation every 15 minutes with its distant song that vibrates into space.
My eyes are closed.
My thoughts grow quieter.
Slowly I am sinking deeper within myself.
The breath naturally deepens and expands the lungs.
I am being breathed.
I seem to be worlds away from the person I happened to be who entered the church moments ago.

One could read a thousand books on meditation and be none the wiser for it.
It would be like glimpsing a mountain through a train window and afterward telling people you had been there without actually having set foot on it.

Each time, the mountain must be climbed anew.
Its terrain is forever changing and shifting.
I always have to approach it in a different way; from a fresh perspective.
Fearlessly I climb, stripping off everything that is in the way; even the climbing itself.
Vertically. Horizontally.
In-Between is Now.
The axis mundi.

(Parabola, a quarterly print magazine about the study of the myths, rituals, symbols, and arts of the world’s spiritual traditions, has featured this poem on their website. You can visit there wonderful magazine here.)


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