all is well

The ritual still continues, and although almost Spring, I find myself in boxers and barefoot, walking in the dusty basement dank from a century of trapped air, chancing my life with a butane lighter in the old furnace .. lighting the pilot, and hearing the whoosh of the flame as it catches along the row of gas jets.

The moon is full and low, and its light coats the rooftops around me, and distracts me. Impossible to phone a friend this late, and so I’ll write, not knowing initially who I’m aiming at.

There are silences that like clouds cover me, and silent nights when I sit alone and wish to escape my dwelling brain. As though I were a week in the same bed, and with the flu. The sheets with sweat from my tossing and wrapping and pounding the pillow, but I without the strength to leave them or clean them. On such nights I sit, trapped, and think things to death.

In a movie I just watched, an art dealer asked a third grade teacher why all of her students produced immaculate masterpieces. Her response was that she knew when to take their paintings away from them. The art dealer went on to say the secret: there’s a point where you lose the painting, where you’ve meddled to much with it, and it’s gone.

There’s a point where you lose the moment. We’re granted a limited amount of time in our minds, and so much of it wasted thrashing around in sweaty thoughts and future fears. Rare are the nights like tonight when the moonlight is crisp as new and the sky is clear and I am here.

My cat knows the score. He’s in it. He’s on it. There’s a Jellicle Ball out there and off he runs with wide eyes and playful grace. His tiny mind can’t fit thoughts like, “Poor me. My friend forgot about the Philly show and so I didn’t go. Boo hoo.”

And yet in spite of a week of expecting THAT good time, and several hours of regretting THAT missed opportunity, here I sit with eyes as wide as his, and enjoy this moon.

The plans I make can never compare to the wonder that arrives on its own, unexpectedly. The magic is always here. It’s ME that misses it. I plan and fret and pound the pillow, and miss the moment.

I am here now, and everything and everyone is exactly as it oughta be. The world is unfolding as it should. I forget that nothing happens in this world by mistake, and that to criticize how people act or events occur is to second-guess divine handiwork, and in doing so make a mess of things and lose the painting.

While in that chair, on many nights I dwell on people and their problems. I seek to heal. I seek to blame. I sweat the details and set my soul up for disappointment. I invest in outcomes. So trapped in myself and how I see things, I forget the fact of my faith: that all is well.

All is well, Tim. All is well. This week I met a woman with AIDS and a man who’d lost his arm, and all is well. Their gratitude for life amazed me and calmed me.

The night before I met a man and heard him complain bitterly about his day as a subsitute gym teacher. Another friend told me of his relief over some hopeful hospital test results. Another friend sold a painting. Another cried openly about the stress of her second job.

All is well, and here’s the secret: saying it makes it so.

If it don’t seem it, then say it again, and again. And again. For this is faith, and it requires work. I’m just now feeling my faith again after my extended visit back to Florida. It’s been real work to get it back, but it’s *back* and this makes all the difference.

There is only this moment. There is only the next right thing. Past and future outcomes are never mine to judge. There’s only now, and all is well.

(February 1995)


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