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In the Narrows

For Lois McNair Van der Leun who has gone home.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”
— C. S. Lewis

The first time down the path
The cave is hidden from your eye.
You wander in a deep ravine
That frames a slice of sky.

Your unsure step will stumble
Where lizards prance on leaves,
But still His stream will carry you
Through the shadow-stippled breeze.

You’ll come to where the bathers bare
Sun themselves on steaming stones,
And one child’s laughter scintillates
Like water flowing over bones.

Oak roots reach down across the rock
And map the drift of streams.
The bathers loll within their sleep,
And reflect the shape of dreams.

Snakes and crickets search the seams
Of granite eons made,
While leaves slip through the air to spin
On water stained with shade.

The solid rock betrays your feet.
Your steps become unsure.
The raven on the boulder bows.
His wings begin to stir.

The grass bends down before the wind.
The ferns bow in the fading light.
The clouds retreat, the stars emerge,
The ravine is draped with night.

But in such night what light awaits
This dust of dreams on bone?
The path leads back to His high home
Through a forest turned to stone.

A rushlight glows within the dark
On the far side of His stream.
It is the cave, unnoticed Then,
Containing Now this life of Dreams.

A figure — phosphorescent, frail —
Will bid you to assume
That all within is as without —
As tunnel echoes tomb.

You’ll see within large shifting shapes
Of cities and of scenes
Remembered only as a film
Shown but once behind a screen.

You’ll hear the songs of sailors,
Songs of women, songs of war.
Your step will freeze, your head will turn,
Your hand will find an ancient door

That leads you to a steaming room
Where pale shapes writhe and wheeze,
While from below a gray mist floats
Upon the fetid breeze.

The chink of money, the lure of love,
Will fill your straining ears,
And you will hear your own voice say,
“Is all that is as it appears?”


Awake! A far bell coming closer
Along the path of night,
In passing lights the lamps of stars
To guide you from this sight.

All is not as it appears.
All is as made and nothing more.
Within that cave confusion reigns
Upon the stained and skull-strewn floor.

Step back beneath the stars, step back.
Reclaim your second sight,
Fare forward far upon that path
Towards His lantern and His light;

To where His sunlight falling sings,
To where  His wind sleeps in the tree,
Where the thought that thinks of thought is drowned
In the Mansions of His sea.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Howard Nelson December 28, 2017, 7:58 AM

    For what we see is but a dream
    tho to we within it, it seems so real,
    lucid phantoms in a world of mind
    the factual is of an other kind.

    In meditation some seek the Source
    tho too many cannot stay that course
    but find, or are found, rescued by intent,
    devotion’s spiritual, spirited force,
    that we’re truly awake, safe, at home as One
    a play in Consciousness composed for fun.

    h/t Robert Adams*, Muktananda, Ramana, Nisargadatta, and all the other thieves of the heart.
    * lots of YouTube presentations, free for all in more ways than one.

  • Jim in Alaska December 28, 2017, 9:19 AM


  • Anonymous July 29, 2019, 2:40 PM

    The Song of the River by William Randolph Hearst

    The snow melts on the mountain

    And the water runs down to the spring,

    And the spring in a turbulent fountain,

    With a song of youth to sing,

    Runs down to the riotous river,

    And the river flows to the sea,

    And the water again

    Goes back in rain

    To the hills where it used to be.

    And I wonder if life’s deep mystery

    Isn’t much like the rain and the snow

    Returning through all eternity

    To the places it used to know.

    For life was born on the lofty heights

    And flows in a laughing stream,

    To the river below

    Whose onward flow

    Ends in a peaceful dream.

    And so at last,

    When our life has passed

    And the river has run its course,

    It again goes back,

    O’er the selfsame track,

    To the mountain which was its source.

    So why prize life

    Or why fear death,

    Or dread what is to be?

    The river ran

    Its allotted span

    Till it reached the silent sea.

    Then the water harked back

    To the mountain-top

    To begin its course once more.

    So we shall run

    The course begun

    Till we reach the silent shore.

    Then revisit earth

    In a pure rebirth

    From the heart of the virgin snow.

    So don’t ask why

    We live or die,

    Or whither, or when we go,

    Or wonder about the mysteries

    That only God may know.

  • Joan Of Argghh! July 29, 2019, 4:18 PM

    So wonderfully, lovingly crafted, Gerard. I’m sure she loves it!

    Thank you for sharing it.

  • Millie Woods July 29, 2019, 5:01 PM

    I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom Gerard.

  • Geoff C. The Saltine July 29, 2019, 8:35 PM

    Thar’s gold in them thar hillsl I tell ya we just haft to go find it.
    You know where you left it and you do not need to seek it out any longer.
    To the Sea, Too the Sea shall it be. That is where we all return. Soon.
    As it has been said before my faithful son, well done.

  • Anonymous July 31, 2019, 5:17 AM

    Gerard, I have enjoyed fine glimpse of your momma shared here over the years. She lived and loved well. Prayers for you.
    His high home … imagine her delight!