School Reunion
 

1

The Guest Book is offered with a biro-securing thumb.
‘50 years – unbelievable!’ one comments.
‘No, 51 actually!!!’ writes another.
I sign my name, but add no comment. What glib remark

would capture the depth of my anguish – looking back down
the barrel of time to the point where the bullet first entered my heart?
Here, where I was first wounded, I must come for healing. 50
years it has taken. ‘No, 51 actually!!!’

Each psychic wound is caused by a unique configuration
of personalities: healing the damaged tissue
demands we reconnect with the moment of impact
and, like a film reversed, un-live it throu forgiveness.

Memories I cannot share now are the thoughts
I could not speak then – a shamanic irruption of dreams, so frightening
I was put to sleep in the sick room. Who could interpret for me?
Who in that city of Christians saw to the roots of wisdom?

With hindsight I can see is the gift: a thousand fractured
fractals winking like wicked shards of glass: my lifelong
task, collecting them to reassemble into
a dazzling spire, unique in imagery.

How many dreary years when death seemed preferable
to this finger-lacerating pointlessness?
One word of wisdom in my childhood would have
been a drop of water on a hell-bent tongue.

I’ve earnt my right to a hearing, not because my thoughts
are at all popular – there never is applause for
voices from the wilderness – but because
these shards of glass I work with transfix or cut the heart.

Discovering how they fit together so that they
enchant or penetrate, matching my intention
to desired result, has involved many accidents.
My hands bear the scars, but so do the hearts of others.

What my childhood taught me 50 years ago,
‘No, 51 actually!!!’ – was how to hide my
heart, how to make it invisible to bullies
and ignoramuses alike. But sometimes

I also made it invisible to those I loved.
Some with resolution or supernatural skill
saw throu this camouflage – but it took decades
before I could contemplate friendships with other men.

With experiences in childhood, when we come
to decode them later, it’s like a sound heard on
the point of sleep: where what is close and quiet can be
mistaken for something far away and threatening.

Memories of childhood are like some tiny object
held before a light – the closer to, the greater
is their power to mask the light, and conjure up
phantasmagoric shapes whose potency persists.

And so it’s here we must return for healing,
to the source of suffering – to re-conjure
that accidental curse and draw the poisoned tooth
from the fiery mouth of our greatest fears.

Fear and attraction – twin poles of our existence.
To know that both arise within, like red and white
springs upwelling yards apart, is to have come
to our true centre. ‘50 years – unbelievable!’

2

Wisdom is not about being right, it’s about
being in the centre of what’s true for you.
The only teacher with any insight to this process
was a pædophile! What’s to be made of that?

Listening to children, helping them find who they are, isn't
hard – unless you think the answer doesn’t matter,
that to strive for individuation in an age of
mass-production is futile exercise.

The issues never change: to find the narrow path
in an age of satellite navigation is no
easier than it was in an age of camels –
except that today’s distractions are more sophisticated.

Finding a personal voice – what does it mean? Why?
Sure, we each have personal voices – but not all are resonant.
Art is the union of personal and transpersonal.
Not everyone who tells a joke is a comedian.

It's like finding the way into creating a poem:
slowly /suddenly the inchoate sense coheres, an arche-
type, a mental vista opens. A narrow path
of feeling stretches forward from this point, from here

where I honestly am, towards a dimly glimpsed exterior.
The only illumination a little natural light covering
my next step. My way lies alone, by night.
Perhaps I am shuffling towards a dawn, perhaps not?

For me it’s numinous as an emerging butterfly.
I cannot stride confidently over familiar terrain, like a
tour-guide leading a party around some well-known site,
serving up sound-bites that match their preconceptions.

I accept my position as a blade of grass accepts
the meadow, as a spring which flows thankful that
from its nerved mouth some force of earth expresses itself
with the meaning of nourishment to a dissolving river.

‘Not for the strut and trade of charms on ivory stages’ –
but to cheat death, that is why I write and compose.
I have lived my life in intimate embrace with death,
flirting like passionate lovers, who can never be friends.

Twice s/he has nearly caught me. In the time remaining
therefore, my purpose is to encode the energies
of life, of prophets, of ascended masters: to take
my place humbly in the great lineage …

not of public fame, but the anonymous
transmission of wisdom perpetuated in tribal tradition –
to which literature is but relative, as a
faded photograph to a breathing human.

Wealth is no bulwark against death, only
those who follow the narrow path to the strait gate
and, stepping throu it, fall into the arms to eternity
can overleap the chasm, forever nowhere, forever found.

None of this makes sense to unenlightened minds –
they see how many paths lead to one destination,
yet cannot grasp that it is actually a single path leading
each person to totally different destinations.

It is not my business to convert or cajole;
I can acquit my soul only by being a witness,
using my considerable powers of persuasion
not to convince but to state my own truth plainly.

If so be, from my lifetime’s study, a transpersonal
voice is heard as a harmonic of my personal sounding
then my work is real-ised, my fragrance released
like a leaf casually crushed to obtain its sweetness.

3

So here where I was first wounded I had to come for healing.
50 years is not long in the overall scale of things.
Time enough for the unbearable sharpness of memory
to fade sufficiently to make us ready for therapy.

What school induced in me was a crushing alienation.
It was like being lost on a mountain in a thick fog –
no compass, no radio, no protection against the elements.
In this misery only the psalmist spoke for me:

“I should truly have perished, but that I expect
to see the goodness of the Lord in the land
of the living.” “I had almost said even as they,
but then I should have condemned a generation of thy children.”

I took these to mean that in my suffering there was a purpose,
that in holding to my path I might liberate
others as well as myself: but in my isolation
this seemed a riddle as cruel and implacable as the sphinx.

Singing the psalms each day was my contact with the transpersonal –
the stonework of the cathedral a testament to the existence
of a glory located beyond the power of decay.
It put my personal anguish into a timeless context.

The heart of a child is as capable of understanding sorrow as an adult’s,
but the design of nature is that its parents wipe it away.
If this process is interrupted, iron sets in the
soul and alters the child’s vibrational receptivity.

I have to believe I chose this pathway, just as later
I chose not to speak to the composer that I'd
run away to see. It wasn’t just ‘the green door
into the rose garden, the path you never took,’

I was like dough which the power working throu me
needed to knead. For the yeast to work I had to
stay the course. Or, put another way, I had
an awful lot of shit that needed kicking out.

Mind you we had practice: the cane sighs throu the air,
the taut muscles scream as it descends, but in the pain
sometimes an extraordinary release – so the bond
is handed down between abusers & their victims.

A column-of-light protection has always been inside me,
even tho at times I’ve tried to obliterate it.
(Oh how I’ve envied others’ lack of obligation
to a higher power!) But now I see it as

the esoteric meaning sought by alchemists –
the goal of metal transformation not as science
but as the mental transformation of intention
by aligning with the numen of base metal …

accepting fear, accepting depression, accepting constriction
and seeking not to escape, not to evade the pain
but to transmute it into a honey-coloured sweetness
that transcends the limitations of the iron,

the golden gift lying not in the possession of
material substance but in the ownership of our darkness.
‘Happiness does not come throu happiness’ says the Vedas.
How that thought could change Western materialist culture.

But that is to digress … or is it? Isn't the issue
here the human-centred matrix of the cosmos –
the microcosmos /macrocosmos, atma /brahma
dichotomy of experience, and how we find our balance?

Isn't this what schools should teach, not fact-cramming?
If education was about the unity of
knowledge and feeling, that is, outer and inner truth
we should have less disoriented people wandering our streets.

Myself for one.

4

50 years! Would it have been ‘believable’
if I'd said any of this then? In my heart
I knew it already – what took the time was finding words
that matched the hidden feelings and knitting both together.

Why? Because “art as a primordial psychic phenomenon
fulfills a religious task and represents an aspect of
‘care-full taking account of transcendental powers’
that parallels the chants, prayers and rituals of priests.”[1]

We do it because we’re problem-solving animals.
(Happy they whose problems lie upon the surface!)
Of those who sink into the depths, not all recover –
yet this is the start of the journey art –and life– demands.

To complete it is to pluck the jewel from the snake,
the diamond of ‘not-I’ under the squatting toad of ‘I’ –
and what is the point of suffering if not to bring us visions
ordinary humans judge the price to high to see?

Individuation, authenticity,
self-realisation – all these speak of at-one-ment
of ‘I’ and ‘not-I’, the diamond clarity of thought
achievable only when coupled with the power of love.

To write of this is not to claim enlightenment,
it is to speak of having climbed a short way above
the smoke of battle to inspect my wounds, noting
how pain and glory enter in the same split-second.

By returning to exorcise the wound that no one
person caused, I now release my victim-hood.
My fear of meeting everyone again was a
fear of coming face-to-face with all my shame.

So love walks throu the walls we erect, to make us whole.
In finding the dark point of our fear we find our power.
For my voice-trial I sang “I know that my redeemer
liveth.” Then I wasn’t sure. Now I am.

25-31/7/05



[1] Marie-Louise von Franz ‘The religious or magical attitude’ in Psychotherapy. 1993.

Google   Enter search:    all web   msteer.co.uk      |   Site by Sam Steer   |   ©2016 Maxwell Steer
<