There and Back
Along the dank stones lining the subterranean tunnel that
weeps with rancid moisture even in the dry season, he
walks, stooped over, shivering, not from chill but from
fear of unknown landings. Soft cries of creatures long
dead drift in the thick air, mixed with cries of earth
herself, enclosed, choked with men’s greed …
groaning, groaning, all creation groaning.
To brace himself against the fearful shivers, he
pulls layers of ragged coats about himself, and
hides frostbitten fingers against his skin. He has
been walking these underground tunnels for
decades, living on rat meat and sipping the moisture from
ceilings of rock, which smell less fetid. He has not seen
daylight since he was a boy hiding in the cornfields.
When was it that he heard the song, so sweet,
so ethereal, so unique, so deceiving? Evil muses, who,
unlike their siren sisters, lure with lies not truth. Like a
moth to flame, he trudges toward the music, only to
slip on ancient worn alga-coated stone and
plummet untrammeled into lightless depths,
down, down, always falling, never ending
This pit has no bottom, no terminal. Alone and
sliding, ever slipping, uncontrollably down, to
where manticore, leviathan, and basilisk
writhe in frozen chains of fire, snarling,
snapping at any who would slide past,
gobbling up all but the most slippery. He could
almost wish to end his misery in their guts.
He closed his eyes and was at once transported to
airless space where the eerie silence made him
yearn for the screams of the abyss. Drifting,
drifting, untethered, utterly alone, into
absolute blackness, rip in time, a hole in space,
from which not even gravity can escape, where
molecules fly apart and reconfigure as slime.
Into the black hole he plunged, yet strangely
still intact, able to gaze in horrifying wonder at
the blast furnaces on either side that coughed and
belched as they digested their prey, and seemed to
laugh with hideous glee as he flew by.
Thunderous roars seemed to yell,
“Soon we feast on you!”
Up ahead – a brilliant light, blinding, white with
blue tint, impossible to look at directly, when,
out from the light, a Figure, glorious, magnificent,
more terrifying than anything he had yet seen,
standing, blocking the way. Propelled at the
speed of light, he shot towards the figure, when
all began to shift and swirl, a mosaic of colors
Now, he was tumbling over and over, softly,
gently, as a baker kneads the dough. A billion
billion planets sang a low whale song, vibrations
reverberating across space-time in a light-show of
whirling beauty. He was swimming along a
cosmic reef kissed by winged and finned
creatures each with multiple pastel heads.
The music of the spheres rose to a crescendo, and
almost sang, “Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!”
And then, all was still.
The blinding Figure disrobed the light and walked toward him,
Eyes moist and kind, as he, with tender caress, whispered,
“Son.” And, with a soft kiss,
He was home by the hearth with a hot cup of ale and his dog at his feet.
Posted on January 30, 2023, in Life Coaching, Poetry, Spiritual Direction. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
A lifetime of bondage to corruption? Several rings of the inferno? Rescued from Hades by a Savior? Home & hearth?