The Running Practice of Love

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Running is for sweat in the breeze. Dog-panting is good. Running is an act of Love, a dedication, a practice for bodies, heart and hot life. Imbued with fire where Great Spirit comes down to roll out the red road and we, coyote and roadrunner, sprint trails along thunder and pine. Great Spirit come down to visit you, Love, satisfied in your small successes. For it is a great success to get up and run in the morning, or at night when the dusk settles down into nests and roofed gables and you go out to breathe your lungs into life, limbs heat, sweat salt for dedication, body who lives. When you run, take your whole body with you, complete animal forms. Encourage it with words of affection. Catch light that enters your chest with a leap of the heart when you are tired and make your back straight. Loosen your neck. Let down your shoulders. Look for adventure wherever you go, tracking Great Spirit there. Into the shapes and the colors of the world given freely, free body, free air, free heart and legs to run into the practice of love. Doesn’t this feel good? Every few days I go out and take up the red road and I am completing, dear brother, a part of the world. Putting whole-world back together again. It fits in the palm of my hand, tucked up in the runner’s arch of my foot. I yearn more and crave less. Not too full a belly. Eat a little good and enough. Complete the circle of humans who run. Run for the ones who can’t run but yearn to. Run for the ones who didn’t want to run though they can. Take your body of joy to the streets and do not set expectations for records or beatings. Records are beatings. We go more tenderly. Run, open lunged and deep chested, to the next tree, next shadow at the end of this street, at the end of the sidewalk dropping off into grassy oblivion wilderness, run. Make time for the hummingbird to beat his wings with you. One small work of love at a time for humankind to follow behind you, adoring the tracks of Beloved who came this way before. Keep going, sweat streaming. Find wonders here. Run off the weight of the pain and the sorrow and self-doubt. Commit to this again and again. No competition. The weight of the heart is the true burden. The pain of self-doubt is the only real flab. Run to go love yourself, catch up with your spirit, the edge of the blue and brown desert painting California Dali. Run to tell Coach he didn’t take it from you. Run to tell them all that you & Great Spirit now own this. Run to make a way for the animals and the children and ancestors yet to be born. Run to love your own life, your own breath, the life that will live forever this moment to the end of the block. Slow to a stop at the end of the sidewalk where your mind becomes quiet and you recall, body buzzing electric, being a small child running ecstatic for glory down a block like this for a ball kicked by a father or friend.

 

photo by howo, Creative Commons Public Domain. Pixabay.com

They Put On New Skin

Creative Commons Public Domain. Pixabay.com

Creative Commons Public Domain. Pixabay.com

I have quiet mind. I ask for quiet mind then worry what to do when I get it. I have nothing to say when I get it. The world is the one who has something to say. All this while I am sitting at the cafe. Overhearing a woman at the checkout stand say she cannot sleep without the TV on, I am thankful this is not one of my problems. In front of me is the newspaper telling about the three police recently dead in Baton Rouge. Red Stick, blood stuck in the muck. And the two black men before them. But something else quiet beneath them. I remember being eleven years old on 9/11 and I was only upset the adults were pressuring us kids to get frantic, take it personally. But every damn night on the evening news before and after this day there are stories of bloodshed and death. But this one is exceptional, every new bloody death is unheard of. This is not cynical. It would bring us all together and make us feel angry and proud, make us feel what we’re missing. Everyday thousands and millions of people die and I learned at an early age to not to pay mind to the news, instead to drop under into the pulse of the world, the sandstone raw ground of the soft belly below. Down here there’s more sense. We can mourn our dead as they call out to be loved, making sense of the senseless because it is in this place, not in the nightly news, but in the underworld where we finally approach the hugeness that is death, and yet its nothingness, its normalcy. To live in love of the world is not to be “worldly”, not to think that the world is the shadow facade that is shown in the papers. The world comes to us all, embraces the dead to say live again, here in my bosom find life anew. You are remembered and never forgotten. Here there is love. To be in relationship with the world is to turn away from the anger that passes for news, because it isn’t the real news of the world. The real news is that the dead have already found heaven because they began to find it in life and now they live again in a new way. They put on new skin, come out between the legs or cut belly of a different mother again. The news of the world is the truth that we can only live on a personal scale, turn back into animals when the curtain falls. We do not access the world by becoming engorged on society’s drama. The society is not the world. Draw closer to the soul of the world this way: stare into a single seed of a tree. Written history is a pile of dead bodies. Watch the worms crawling away from it, carrying words of love from the dead, transporting their atoms to wombs. You want to remember the dead? You want to love them and tell them they still matter. So do I. You’ll have better luck finding them in the face of the river, in the endless mirror. Turn out the heart to be wrung in the rain and the sun. Behold the beautiful young men. Listen to the gallant young women. Draw close to them. They’re carrying life. You’ll be back here again.

Antarctican Forest (Homo Mutatur)

Antarctican Forest - The Leafy Paw

collage art (c) Amber MV

I dreamt that Antarctica warmed, and instead of melting, it became a great conifer forest. Birds of the Americas delivered the seeds of trees carried in their gut and their wings. When the seeds touched the ice, out came green saplings writhing like caterpillars in a protective ball around animal fetuses, cocoons for refugees from lost lands. In time, this new world blossomed into a dark green forested land not unlike Alaska, full of giant new beasts who glow in the night from radiation. Long ago, the humans entered into this place from South America, and hid deep in the ground to survive the war of ice and fire washing over the planet. One century, many lifetimes later, when a quietness not known for eons had settled over the whole earth and the war of the elements ended, a new creature crawled out from the darkness beneath. Her eyes ice blue and transparent-wide, her skin a membrane of milk and watery veins which had forgotten the sun and the moon; her kind become the descendent of the remaining Homo sapiens. On claws, groaning songs like the whales who once were, her people crawled like spiders into the forest, Homo mutatur, the last of the awoken apes. The time of their species stretched out as a nebula’s hourglass, howling their new and final prayers into the boundless forest beneath the shadows of the mountain.

 

Memory from a dream on October 7th, 2012

Recollection of the Birds of California Route 41

Photo by nuzree, Creative Commons, Public Domain. Pixabay.com

Photo by nuzree, Creative Commons, Public Domain. Pixabay.com

It might be the drive between sparkling, montane Quail Springs and comforting, familiar Fresno which is the most dismal, alienating four-hour drive in all of California. A ghastly expanse of oil rigs puncture godforsaken rock and ash where once were gentle Valley Oak and wildflower savannas roamed by Tule Elk and Bear. Nameless towns of nowhere on dusty highways appear from the no man’s land of big-box fast food stops, gas stations and sketchy motels with blinking neon lights. Any sight of human habitation in the form of neighborhoods are either monolithic tracts of identical mini McMansions, or lopsided old houses supported by tarps and barbed wire appearing to huddle together for dear life (assuming the inhabitants have found strength in community, as I hope). Just to make sure I got the message, I was pulled over by flashing blue and red lights and awarded a speeding ticket for doing a modest 68 in a mysteriously unmarked 55 mph zone, according to the cop, who was just doing his job. And when I, approaching Fresno from a distance still on the lower highway 41, saw that the air was so afflicted by a heavy carpet of smog so as to veil the mountains and the sun’s full shine in a brown haze, I almost no longer believed. At the edge of despair I thought the land was lost forever, when at once, something flashing, flame-shot with gold, caught the corner of my eye. From below the signposts and still grass of the roadside there arose in chorus a great congregation of birds from the earth like a fleet of angels in resurrection. I saw their beating wings catch the morning sun and reflect, in each perfectly synchronized turn of the flock, the red haze of the marred light in a new-made shimmer as if to give unshakable glory to the life eternal which still lives in this world, even in such a time as this. I saw more flocks gather around me as my car traveled on, and they flew overhead and resided there in the air in cadence with my own pace of flight. Their shadow was so dense above me that my sight became for a moment darkened, the outline of each feathered body becoming one. When having passed over me entirely, and, leaving the wake of my movement to myself once again, they seemed to take all darkness with them. And my eyes were wider, restored with light.

A recollection from my time at Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, Autumn 2013

Four Films for the Times…

Public domain, pixabay.com

Public domain, pixabay.com

I recently wrote about four of my favorite globally-minded films: Whale Rider; Osama; Of Gods and Men; and Avatar. “Movies have a powerful effect on the global culture of our time, both reflecting and shaping our world. Each of the following award-winning films speak to important issues in our global society today. They are recommended to anyone who would know greater empathy for our increasingly interconnected times.”

Read the article here, “Four films for the times — global culture in cinema”:http://showcase.tempestamedia.com/four-films-for-the-times-global-culture-in-cinema-aid-21874/

The Aliveness of Places

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Places are alive. Setting, not merely a dull backdrop, is a topic near to my heart as a writer and as one who recognizes herself as a natural human animal. (And make no mistake, “animal” ought to be a title of honor and pride.) Much of my professional background is in the outdoor education field of “deep nature connection” and the “re-wilding” movement of reconnecting people to our natural environments. It is an educational movement based in loving the aliveness of a world shared with other members of the kingdom of life on earth. This is my starting place for so much of what I feel and do professionally, and it continues to mature in me over the years while influencing my relationship to writing especially.

One of the most important lessons I learned early on in my own nature-based education (unlearning and relearning) is about “the wall of green”. That is the feeling of disconnect, bewilderment, ignorance and fear that many modern humans feel when confronted with a forest or any other natural environment not walled in with four corners and a thermostat set to 70 degrees all year long. I remember it being absolutely overwhelming at first, until, by a slow and gentle establishing of relationship, the “wall” of green disappeared, and I realized I knew the names, and more importantly the distinct personalities, of many of the “plant people” and “animal people” who before had all looked the same. Seeing the natural world in this new way, I was disturbed by my own ignorance. Now I knew the difference between a Western Redcedar, the famous Mother Tree and Tree of Life of the Pacific North-West which provides medicinal tea and valuable building materials, as compared to a Sitka Spruce, an equally beautiful tree whose needled branches taste like candied mint when covered in ice but whose same needles can be extremely painful to grab or step on indelicately! So many species became alive to me: my eyes were opened, and I knew I could never see the living land as merely a passive, mechanical, impersonal “setting” or “backdrop” which only existed as a pretty, disposable decoration for more ostensibly important (and arrogant) exclusively human drama.

This massive paradigm shift has affected me profoundly, and in this I cannot even approach writing itself as a disembodied subject. The aliveness of the land, a being with a relational, lovable, even conscious personality all her own, will always be an important character in the writing process, as it deserves to be. I suspect that this will continue to make a strong mark on my developing career as a writer and obviously influence which subjects feel attractive to spend my time writing about.

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And neither is an experience in nature-based education all sweetness and light. Many adult initiates go through an intense cathartic inner turmoil, a “dark night of the soul”, where we come to peace with the unavoidably harsh, violent, and deadly aspects of nature which live in our own human psyches. We find we become more creative, more aware of these primal forces, and we find healthy outlets are honoring them. We may come to honor our newfound awareness of our own edgier natures by channeling physical aggression through more exercise or sports, taking responsibility for our meat-eating by learning the bloody work of how to harvest an animal body on a farm, or enjoying the gothic literary genre and contemplating our own limited lifespans. Indeed, all of these are places, too: states of being expressed in the pitch-black of a forest at night, the strangely soothing beauty of a graveyard, a broken-down part of town that glimmers with a mutinous danger. All all these, also, are nature. Having contact with the magic of places and the night-side of nature provides much creative juice to an ecologically-minded creative writer.

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Now I live in a more urban area again, several years after that initial introduction to an indigenous mode of learning about Place. After several transformative years of living rurally surrounded by forests, it was at first a difficult transition “back” in many ways. Yet I chose to accept this new chapter with confidence that nature is still present in the cities, and the aliveness of the world around us comes to aid all of us, even in an urban setting. The movement of the city trees in the sunlight echoes the same effect of a woodland cathedral. We must love and rehabilitate even our urban environments in fiercely creative and regenerative ways, honoring them as not separate from the rest of the earth. We recognize their capability of hosting the same natural magic as the wild places, albeit with more urban flare. The spirit of Place is alive and magical, wherever it is.

Many wild animals have adapted to urban environments and bring their old magic to visit us. Crow, Fox, Coyote, Squirrel, Raccoon, Thrush, Jay, Bobcat, Lark, Butterfly and so many of the Insect Nation, occasionally Deer and even Eagle I know are near me, hiding just beyond or above the concrete sidewalks. There is a beautiful Bald Eagle who nests on a lamp post above highway 520 on the Seattle side facing Bellevue, signifying a threshold between the riparian marshes of the sea-sound and my species’ metal towers. This interconnected aliveness which calls out to us, involving our human-animal selves in their subtle web of life, cannot be disconnected from the writing of a writer who is aware of these relationships.

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There is a poem that comes to mind, by Lisel Mueller, about not being able to go back to old ways after having experienced a new yet societally unrecognized way of being. The poem, called Monet Refuses the Operation, is about the impressionist painter Claude Monet’s refusal to have cataract surgery on his eyes so that he can see “correctly” again, because he valued what others called his “disability” of cataracts as a gift that allowed him to see all the world blending together in beauty, as his paintings revealed. Though I certainly don’t consider my re-wilding experience to be in any way a disability, the parallel holds symbolically in the line, “I will not return to a universe of objects that don’t know each other…” There is a poem that comes to mind, by Lisel Mueller, about not being able to go back to old ways after having experienced a new yet societally unrecognized way of being. The poem, Monet Refuses the Operation, is about the impressionist painter Claude Monet’s refusal to have cataract surgery on his eyes so that he can see “correctly” again, because he valued what others called his “disability” of cataracts as a gift that allowed him to see all the world blending together in beauty, as his paintings revealed. Though I certainly don’t consider my re-wilding experience to be in any way a disability, the parallel holds symbolically in the line, “I will not return to a universe of objects that don’t know each other…” I am happy to explain to people why setting is not just a lifeless thing in the background, but instead is a character as much a part of a story as an animal.
Below is a link to that poem. May it inspire us to see differently, unafraid to see the magic of setting, even in our own lives, with new eyes.

Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

 

……

Source: Lisel Mueller, “Monet Refuses the Operation” from Second Language. Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller. Louisiana State University Press.

Poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/52577

The Lost Art of Carrying Verse

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When I first moved to San Francisco in January of 2010, I took nothing with me but a backpack and a satchel. I had given away my only computer, one of those old white-cased Macs. I wanted to be unburdened. I stayed at a youth shelter for a time where my only music came from my 2004 iPod, which was stolen. I didn’t miss it for long, because I carried with me a book of poems, songs and prayers that I hand-scribbled in black ink on soft, textured pages. At that time I was nineteen, nearly twenty years old and fighting one of the worst multi-year episodes of my lifelong depression. So I carried with me through that city of sea-fog and sunlit towers out of my league the words of poems to remember, and hymns and folk songs to sing. I memorized the verses I found and needed to carry, singing them to myself on the Muni, on BART, climbing those steep streets of fool’s gold to old churches past homeless encampments. Many a passersby seems to enjoy my spontaneous singing, it being so out of the usual in a modern American city. I sang to Golden Gate Park when, one day, I found a baby American Robin fallen out of its nest. I stayed a long time to see where it hopped to, trying to direct the distressed avian infant with my own winged motions to a place of safe haven. I hoped I’d find the same place for myself. To sing words by heart means you can call on their power whenever you need them, and they will assist you.

The old-school method of rote memorization of verse may, after all, not be so harsh if the pupil can but choose the words that call out to them. How many people today care to have tucked in their sternum the rhyming words of remembering love, the song your grandma sang when you were a child, a poem that grabs and squeezes your frozen heart ’til it warms and pulses again. When my grandparents were children in the 1930s, everyone knew by heart some songs and poems, and it was not unusual for young adults well into the 1950s to strike up a song together in chorus at a party, even unaccompanied by instrument, for the natural joy of it. I call this the lost art of carrying verse. Common people used to know poems and songs, the way people now know their favorite internet music channels. It is not to say that our excellent access to recorded music is a bad thing, but only that I wish we wouldn’t let it replace our own spontaneity at carrying and reciting verse from within us.

I first heard Anne Bradstreet’s famous poem on marital love, “To My Dear and Loving Husband” performed on audio recording by Robert Pinsky on his album of recorded poetry, Essential Pleasures. I had long been a lover of spoken poetry by then. I had never yet had an intimate partner at that time, and the poem spoke of a love and trust between spouses I hadn’t witnessed in my own never-even-married parents. Written sometime between 1641 and 1643, the poem, spoken passionately in the woman’s voice, moreover gives the lie to the stereotype of downcast and unfulfilled early European American woman. Being written by a woman, much less in the 17th century, it is an indispensable perspective in love poetry which too often makes the woman the thing to be looked upon, instead of the active agent who does the loving and desiring upon a man who receives her affections. Love poetry written by women does the dual medicine of amplifying women’s voices and experiences while allowing men to be loved themselves, for once. Finally, menfolk, take a break from always being the active agents. Lay back and let your women do some active loving!

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.

Thy love is such I can no way repay;

The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.

Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,

That when we live no more we may live ever.

Bradsteet’s poem echoes Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (“Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”) in tone, though it be twelve lines instead of fourteen. I already knew Sonnet 18 by heart, and I scooped up Bradstreet’s love sonnet like silver, memorizing it into my hopeful San Francisco hymnal. The author’s voice of joy rising to crescendo conveys this earthly love up to her prayers, putting the woman’s love that happens on earth squarely in the realm of that which is respected as sacred. Her comparison of this love’s greatness to the inconsequentiality of the world’s riches might make us mistake that she disdained this world. But she rather draws all earthly things into it; in the large way of the poet. Her love is by her husband reciprocated.

When I read it, I held this poem in my hands, there in those San Francisco streets, and then I held it in my memory, as a potion to find such love as this. Lonely, short-haired, I looked for this largeness of love and verse yet incorporeal to me in rose gardens owned by institutions, but which gave their floral splendor to me indiscriminately. I looked for this love already coming to live in my own life, recovering from my depression.

Bradstreet’s poem is anaphoric in nature. It is in the rare second person, addressing her Beloved with all the boldness and tenderness of a young lover even in her middle-aged marriage. Bradstreet’s poem connects all us women through time, ancestral wisdom, like the wisdom of carrying such words within us. It tells me, with much relief, that in every age before me there has been true marital love, not only in our ostensibly more enlightened time, but inherent to all eras of human life. Now I have found my beloved. My partner, T, is much worthy of this poem. If I hadn’t remembered it and carried it, would I have had such perspective in earlier years that finding him would be possible? Would I have had Bradsteet’s ancestral help in my recovery from depression? I take inspiration and reassurance of this deeply human experience written down by a woman cultural ancestor so many generations before me.

I no longer live in San Francisco. I left that city June of 2012, tired of the impossible cost of living and established societies difficult to break into and find real community. I went to attend an outdoor school in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, the greater region which I have now settled in, with T, my object of poetic affections. I still battle depression– it’s a condition I will always have, but I now know how to manage it a little better. I still have my book of verse, and I find new words to imprint in my memory, bright words of power to carry.

Reporting Live from Earth

pixaby.com Public Domain

Reporting live from Earth:
people were nice to each other today.
A tattooed guy helped an old lady across the street,
and she smiled.
A soldier adopted a kitten who purred
when the man nuzzled and kissed it.
Kids played in Mexico City, lovers had sex,
and a woman in Africa gathered plants in peace.
An Iraqi girl strolled the streets of Baghdad,
feeling beautiful, and an Indian man
had a really good sandwich.
A North Korean told a joke,
her friends bent laughing,
while a Westerner sat quiet in the woods,
buying nothing.
A scientist got caught in wonder,
forgetting the formula, and missed his wife.
A politician cried.
It was while the old trees stood without worry
that salmon spawned in cool waters,
and a large feline stretched out under the milky way
on one side of the world,
and on the other side it was day,
and pink flowers bloomed in the deserts,
and a reptile slowly closed its eyes
in the sun.

 

copyright AmberMV 2016

 

photo: pixaby.com Public Domain

The Vacation of Birds

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A door opens to bells: eyes turn
toward the sound to see
the awaited face emerging,
at once the act of revelation,
of birthing and becoming.

The Word became incarnate,
but what became the Word?
The Word is like the body
in this way: what is within us
is beyond description,
spirit yearning after form.
All life longs for the Word
through whom the sound
of The World is heard.

When angels come to earth,
they take the form
of birds.

The Tempest as Shakespeare’s Spiritual Play

'Ferdinand Lured by Ariel', by John Everett Millais, 1852

‘Ferdinand Lured by Ariel’, by John Everett Millais, 1852

The Tempest is, arguably, William Shakespeare’s most spiritually-themed play. Widely considered to be Shakespeare’s last play, it is a work of great introspection on the dawning human condition during the renaissance and the coming colonial era. The play calls to mind deep questions of power, justice, discernment, beauty, truth, goodness, the Divine, and that all-encompassing sense of awe at the mystery and magic surrounding us. The author B. J Sokol wrote of the play,

The Tempest has long conveyed to many a feeling of integrity and compactness vastly different from the concocted or pastiched, and yet… this play draws on widely biblical, classical, Romance and Renaissance traditions…. it reflects a wide range of the intellectual concerns of it’s own time. (Sokol 28)

The play is written as if by one who had lived much of his life reflecting on these questions; I attest that The Tempest is but the dream-like dramatization of the inner life of a human being’s quest for wisdom and understanding amongst a glorious but uncertain world.

The play begins with a shipwreck. It is the shipwrecking of everything which we have taken for granted as real. Gonzalo’s crew is tossed about in the storm, but they cannot know while in it that it is Prospero who benevolently controls the winds and waters. They are at the mercy of a power greater than themselves, unexpectedly, and now they have no choice but to trust and see what happens. This severance from reality is commonly found in many of the world’s rite of passage traditions, when a person undertakes a hardship whether knowingly or unknowingly for the purposes of transforming and growing into who they are meant to become. I see a parallel here in the The Tempest: what begins in turmoil ultimately ends in calm, the revelation of harmony and goodness at work; thus is the crew of the ship symbolic of humanity’s spiritual journey into maturity.

Prospero is the wizard of the play. His magic touches everything and everyone around him; he is the catalyst, mysterious, but also agonizingly human. He stands in reverence before equal and greater powers than himself, such as those of the enchanted isle which he interacts with. It is because of Prospero’s role as the magic-maker that I advocate the importance of seeing the other supporting characters more clearly, as they are the ones who will act under his influence. The first and most closest character to Prosper’s life and heart is Miranda, his daughter, who was brought to the isle in infancy with her father’s exile. She does not know of the world beyond her small island, yet the tempest conjured at the play’s opening is a catalyst to change for her as well. If the crew is about to undergo a powerful and poetic awakening, so is she. With compassion for the plight of the ship tossed about in the storm, she cries out to her father to explain what is happening and what is the meaning of their being on this island at all. Miranda is the first awoken to her place as a loved one, that is, a character so vital to the arc of the story that it could not be told without her. She, unknowingly as a small child, could not have known purpose in blessing her frightened father when they were forced away from Naples. Prospero speaks,

O, a cherubim
Thou wast that did preserve me. Thou didst smile.
Infused with a fortitude from heaven,
When I have deck’d the sea with drops full salt,
Under my burthen groan’d; which raised in me
An undergoing stomach, to bear up
Against what should ensue.

Miranda is, in short, the first signifier of the presence of grace. I will here define grace as that unexpected but vitally necessary upwelling of peace, strength and understanding when one needs it most. It is a universal spiritual and human value, one critical to the wellbeing of the mind and lives of people and often found it medicinal doses through famous art and literature. It is this ever-present theme which I find laced through The Tempest in the most heartwarming, hilarious and mysterious ways.

We are next introduced to Ariel, the spritely and playful spirit of the isle who is in servitude to Prospero at the play’s opening, but who is ultimately set free. Ariel’s unfortunate meeting with Sycorax, the wicked mother of the monster Caliban, binds him into the heart of a tree in frozen solitude until he is freed by Prospero. It is after his freeing that he is in service to Prospero, the source of his freedom – or is it reified Freedom itself?

Caliban is a monster, a wretched creature who does not invoke a lot of pity in the audience. He threatened to violate Miranda and he antagonistically curses Prospero. Yet, we may see in him the image of ourselves in their most fallen form, even when that form does, for a moment, stop to wonder at the beauty of what he is a part of.

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

In these words of Caliban’s we see a glimpse of forgivable, even familiar to us, feelings of becoming aware of a transcendent presence at play. Caliban is not entirely irredeemable after all. He is a representation of the lowest and most deranged aspect of ourselves on the spiritual journey, as Stephano and Trinculo are representations of foolishness and lack of awareness, yet even through him we see some beauty.

Ferdinand, the young and noble-hearted shipwrecked prince, was destined from the beginning to be Miranda’s lover. I see in him the theme of the Beloved, much akin to the “loved one” or chosen one of the gospels. This is not so in that Ferdinand is any kind of a prophet or god (though he is royalty), but rather that his role in the story is the fulfillment of Miranda’s longing for union with love in the flesh of reality, much in the way the Christ-figure of Christian cosmology is the fulfillment of all Creation’s longing. It is Miranda’s exclamation of joy at discovering him, and therefore the world at large, which moves me to recognize this important theme.

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!

It is my observation that Shakespeare likely wrote The Tempest as a capstone and farewell to the bulk of his work. In such, it stands as a fitting summary and condensation of the major spiritual and humanist themes deeply laced throughout The Bard’s canon. The Tempest is the final unity, the great bringing-together of all the messages which ultimately matter. This idea is not far off from the heart’s hope for the ultimate re-binding together of the broken pieces of the world, a part of Abrahamic cosmology often referred to as The World to Come. It is this shining and unifying theme of ultimate salvation, reunion, revelation, healing, and the anointing of the proper ruler which indicate a deeper river of meaning in The Tempest.

Works Cited

Sokol, B. J. Introduction. A Brave New World of Knowledge: Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Early Modern Epistemology. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2003. 28. Print.
Shakespeare, William. “The Tempest: Entire Play.” The Tempest: Entire Play. MIT: Complete Moby Shakespeare, 1993. Web. 28 May 2014.
O’Toole, Michael. “Shakespeare’s Natives: Ariel and Caliban in The Tempest.” www.columbia.edu. Columbia University, n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.
Cosser, Michael. “Shakespeare’s Mystery Drama: The Tempest.” “Shakespeare’s Mystery Drama: The Tempest” by Michael Cosser. Sunrise Magazine – Theosophical University Press, Dec. 1999. Web. 28 May 2014.

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