Let Me Shine

The light has sunk into the earth:
The image of DARKENING OF THE LIGHT.
Thus does the superior man live with the
great mass:
He veils his light, yet still shines.
The I Ching

 

…A shadow limps off among the trees.
Already sentenced into wilderness,
As if born wounded, he must stand
Between man & what shines.
Yusef Komunyakaa

Let Me Shine

Paint me as an angel, if that’s what you need to see
Put me on a pedestal, you never will meet me
Ambition pulls you closer, a moth come to a flame
But you’re bouncing off the window
And you think that I’m the blame,
Oh no, how many times I gotta hear it? One I love has to say:
“I just can’t live in your shadow,”
Then you turn and walk away

Let me shine, what’s it to ya
You got your light, baby I got mine
Let me shine, Hallelujah
I am alive

Paint me as a devil, if that’s how it has to be
Say misery and trouble, all you ever got from me
Disappointment justifies you, it’s no surprise you’d throw the game
When the glory that you borrow
Turns to bitterness and shame
Oh no, how many times I gotta hear it? One I love has to say:
“I just can’t live in your shadow,”
And another one walks away

Well let me shine, what’s it to ya
You got your light, baby I got mine
Let me shine, Hallelujah
I am alive
Everybody wants to shine

Everybody trying for the spotlight, for the lead line, on the big-time
Well, keep your eye on your own piece of pie
You’ll be alright, you’ll be just fine
The shadow you fear was never really mine
So shut the fuck up, and let me shine

Let me shine, what’s it to ya
You got your light, baby I got mine
Let me shine, Hallelujah
I am alive

Let me shine, what’s it to ya
You got your light, baby I got mine
Let me shine, Hallelujah
Oh yeah, Hallelujah
Let me shine, Hallelujah
I am alive
Why don’t you let me shine

The Blessing Kiss

those in need have to step forward…
They have to sing, if they didn’t sing, everyone
would walk past, as if they were fences or trees.
That’s where you can hear good singing.
…god himself comes and stays a long time
—Rainer Maria Rilke

In order to win membership in the human race, we are asked to pay a “small” price: everything.
—Morris Berman

The Blessing Kiss

For the hopeless and the hated
All the broken hearted
The doomed and the fated
The bound and the parted
For all the sick and twisted
Defamed and deformed
The burned and the blistered
The shunned and the scorned

There’s not much I can do,
But I promise you this
There is such a thing in this world
As the blessing kiss

On the town with my woman
Ambushed by a curse
Men hit on her ask’n:
“You his sister or his nurse?”
Underestimated,
As if I don’t exist,
So humiliated
My spirit is at risk

And there’s not much I can do,
But I’ll promise you this
There is such a thing in this world
As the blessing kiss

I need you to see me
As Beauty saw the Beast
I’ll keep on through the famine
Dreaming of the feast
The blessing kiss received or given
In and of the soul
Is a sacred confirmation
Whatever shape you appear to be in
You are whole

The blessing kiss received or given
Each and every one
Confirms the soul’s condition
And when the Gods wanna hear real song
This is where they come

To the hopeless and the hated
All the broken hearted
The doomed and the fated
The bound and the parted
To all the sick and twisted
Defamed and deformed
The burned and the blistered
The shunned and the scorned

It’s a rookery of outcast
A choir of misfits
The only cost of entry:
Everything there is.
There’s nothing else to do,
But I’ll promise you this
There is such a thing in this world
As the blessing kiss

That Old Oneway


https://soundcloud.com/daniel-deardorff/that-old-oneway

 

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working
wrongly, that am ill. 

—D. H. Lawrence

That Old Oneway


Rock me on your old rowboat, Dark Lady
Rock me on that old oneway
Drop me down into the bottomless water
I will sink just like a stone
And I’ll be gone

Ruby red the surgery floor, doctor
Diamond white are your cruel hands
Sapphire black will be the bottomless water
Can’t escape, so I must take
That old oneway

Mother cries, father moans,
Nurses walk by, doctor goes home
Minister prays up to the heavenly Angels
But the Dark Lady claims
That old oneway

Lil’ ragdoll, cling’n to life
Been doin’ hard time under the knife
Ain’t no easy out, out of this roundabout live’n
Live’n on trial, unreconciled,
Comatose child

So rock me on your old rowboat, Dark Lady
Rock me on that old oneway
Drop me down into the bottomless water
I will sink just like a stone
And I’ll be gone

Rockabye, drift away from this shore
Rockabye babe, suffer no more
But lift up an oar, shove Her overboard
She’s fallen down into the bottomless water
I awoke as She fell
Broken out of the spell
And now I’m here to tell
Of that old oneway

Move on Wand’rer

Move on Wand’rer

Move on wand’rer,
there is no home for ya here
Move on stranger,
No welcome, only fear
Move on, move on
And you know it isn’t brotherness
When all you feel is Otherness
And they say you don’t belong
So move on

The wand’rer has no fixed abode
Your only home is on the road
Just like fire on the mountain… here and gone
Move’n on, keep move’n on

Come on wand’rer
Bring your stories and your songs
Come out of the weather
But do not stay too long,
Too long, too long
Tonight we offer love and trust
But you never will be one of us
When tomorrow brings the dawn
Time to begone

The wand’rer has no fixed abode
Your only home is on the road
Like fire on the mountain… here and gone
Move’n on, move’n on

Move on wand’rer,
there is no home for ya here
Move on stranger,
No welcome, only fear
Move on, move on
And you know it isn’t brotherness
When all you feel is Otherness
And they say you don’t belong
So move on
Move on
Wand’rer move on

To Carry Fire

This song is dedicated to all the participants in Living Myth Living World, and to my brother in arms Martin Shaw.

With a flame in the heart
As the hands work their art
As the drum and the voice entwine
Every gesture unfolds
To bring culture and soul
Alive

For the heart and the hands require
To carry fire.
Yes the heart and the hands require
To carry fire

There are five sparks aglow
In the stories you know
And they long for your breath
To burn
So we pray for the skill
For the courage and will
To return

For the heart and the hands require
To carry fire.
Yes the heart and the hands require
To carry fire

Alexander made his wall
of shadow and amnesia
The Mythsinger will recall
All we are
All we’ve been denied
From the other side
Reclaimed

For the heart and the hands require
To carry fire.
Yes the heart and the hands require
To carry fire

Trickster-Wisdom & Looking for Roots

The following is adapted from an essay I wrote for a training manual on working with youth.

20130907-015536.jpgWhen asked how we attract young people into soul work—be it heartfull-language, rites of passage, a storytelling, or ritual—I think of Trickster. We have an appalling lack of Trickster energy in this culture due to a widespread aversion to lived paradox. That is, abstract and conceptual paradox is fine, perhaps considered enlightened, erudite, even entertaining. But lived paradox, like Trickster, is messy, ambiguous, shape-shifting; providing an apt description of the adolescent condition. Hence, meeting some form of Trickster may be helpful—as Deldon Anne McNeely writes:

Lucky is the adolescent who comes under the influence of an adult with a healthy dose of Trickster available in their psyche… to laugh at oneself without too much shame, to role-play, to experiment with a variety of identities… with humor and a more life-affirming perspective.

Trickster embodies paradox. If we hope to effectively work with young people we will need all the psychological maturity we can gather—maturity arises in the capacity to sustain and endure paradox.
Cultivating some Trickster energy of our own, will make us more attractive to adolescents; and perhaps open our eyes to all that is attractive to them. It’s also clear that the old Trickster myths offer adolescents a different perspective on their own statusless-status, their betwixt-and-between condition, suggesting to them that adolescence itself may be something truly important and powerful.
Of course, inviting the neighborhood boys to come for story night won’t get much attention, rather we might say, “we’ve got a bunch of bows and arrows, and were going to do archery Saturday afternoon and then build a big-ass fire.” So maybe six guys show up, and learn to hit something with an arrow. Talking happens, but the main thing is we’re doing something, there’s action going on, and the talk is peripheral. When it comes time to lay the wood and make a fire, instead of pulling out a match, or lighter, one man brings out a bow-drill, and begins diligently with, silent prayers, to call a tiny smoldering coal out of the wood. First seeing the smoke and then the tinder ignite, if we’re lucky, a boy will say, “could I do that?” Quickly dousing the flame, the man begins to offer instruction. An hour or more later half the boys have attempted and maybe succeeded in calling a flame. At last the fragile bundle of burning tinder is pushed into the heart of the perfectly arranged tepee of kindling, and the fire climbs into its full glory. Something primal and sacred has happened—no words needed. Once the fire settles, at the right moment, another man says, “how ‘bout a story.” And then I give a story, with drum, voice, and heart. In the end when asked, “do you guys wanna do this again?” everyone agrees, “yes!”
A number of important things occurred here: first (because I’ve invoked Trickster) did we trick the boys? I say no. We were tricky, and we used cunning to make this happen, but we never lied or fooled them. Second, through the telling of myths, and later poems, we begin to develop an image laden group-language. After hearing many stories and many poems—as Robert Bly has it, “storing up the granary of images”—it is always amazing and delightful to listen to a young one speak of his life from his own heart, eloquently weaving threads of story and poem that have become land-marks in the vast territory of his soul’s life.
The third thing which occurred is something that runs invisibly through the background of the whole event: the boys experienced the authority of the men without anyone asserting it; this is the trickiest thing of all and must be explored at length.
In modern society young people have a long-learned inexpressible sense that grownups are not the same thing as adults. Many teenagers have lived all their lives without encountering an authentic adult. They know there’s something missing in the grownups, they don’t know what it is, and deep down they feel betrayed by the adult world for not showing up at that critical moment when genuine adult contact is needed.
This circumstance makes it very difficult for young people to enter deeply into situations where authority must be present. The gathering of boys described above is a first event, but what we hope for is to go deeper and eventually enter territories where boundaries must be held, and someone has to say “ok, stop! we’re not going that far.” It may seem easier to just be pals—but if you’re doing initiation, or mentoring, just being pals will not work. If a grown up person is less psychologically mature than a young person, it is impossible for the young one to receive any real food from the older one. If we succumb to the temptation to earn approval from the young ones who we hope to reach we will fail. Hence, at both ends of the two way street each of us—grownup and teen, woman and girl, man and boy—separately face the same problem/opportunity.
In The Sibling Society Robert Bly describes the devastating effects of life in a culture that refuses adulthood and adult authority: “Adults regress toward adolescence; and adolescents—seeing that—have no desire to become adults.” Thus, the primary challenge to any opening between grownups and youths is mistrust of authority. Ironically, mistrust of authority is precisely what keeps grownups from becoming adults: we abdicate our own interior authority in favor of earning approval and at times we seize gratuitous authority—we all know it, many of us do it, and everyone hates it.
Mistrust of authority is a chronic illness overwhelming modern society. Yet, ultimately, earning approval as a substitute or diversion doesn’t work—it makes us sick. Soon enough we go off hunting for more—because approval is an addictive substance, and as such, it is a substitute satisfaction for (or what Caroline Casey would call the “toxic mimic” of) a natural desire to receive confirmation in and of the soul.
Whether trying to accept your own interior authority, or walk the ground of another’s, the best advice I know is this: before you look up, look down, look for the roots—that’s where authenticity comes from. False authority is a rootless tree looming over us with no connection to the earth—it’s not alive. To have authenticity we need deep roots reaching down to what Martín Prechtel calls “the indigenous soul.” The indigenous soul is not interested in mere approval; it will accept no substitute for the rooted ceremonies of confirmation bestowed upon the soul by elders who are looking eagerly to call forth and give praise to the strangely-beautiful-one-of-a-kind qualities of soul that come into the world as a gift only through this one unique individual person. We all long for this, and even if we never got it, we have to learn to give it to those who need it most: the boys and girls, the young men and young women in our village.
Long after that first event those boys, now young adults, are still in my life. I am deeply grateful for the many things they’ve taught me, grateful that each one once granted four men authority to guide them across that dark initiatory bridge, grateful because they know the authority of the old indigenous stories and grandfather fire, grateful for how well they live. Today they come for companionship, they come when there is trouble and when times are good—and yes, they still come for stories.