Beginning in the Shadowlands

This is the first post on my new blog!

As I approached my sixtieth birthday a few months ago, I hardly recognized myself—who was this tired, cynical, and unhappy person? I did not want to waste any more of my remaining days living like that. Whatever I did, I wanted to do whole heartedly. So, I committed to make this a year for change. To be ruthlessly honest with myself and to be real no matter what the consequences.

I spent the first half of the year struggling with my decision to end my marriage. We had been together my entire adult life, but we had reached the point where our marriage no longer served either of us. To continue it would have been more harmful.

As I struggled with that decision and with how to find my way into a new life, I decided to go to a men’s retreat at Easton Mountain. I hoped that it would provide some of the support, tools and guidance to renew my energy and clear out old stories that had been sucking the life out of me for decades. And it offered the opportunity to explore the relationship of spirituality with sexuality.

Participating in this retreat turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in many years!

My blog is named after the following poem which describes some of my recent journey. I dedicate this poem to the beautiful community of men who were so courageously and compassionately present during our retreat, with special thanks to our teachers Ian Ellington, Rafael, and Bob.

Easton Mountain Pond, Spring 2012

Naked in the Shadowlands

The brittle crust
Of all decent worlds
Has finally fractured.
I cling to crumbling bits
Waiting for my grip to slip.

Little chunks of my history
Catch up to me and
Sweep me down a dark crevasse
That measures my life
Like some old hourglass.

I find myself sleepwalking
Naked in the shadowlands
Where unseen serpents
Flick their tongues
To track the scent of my wounds.

I fear most surely all is lost
Right here in the ruins
Of the life I settled for.
The rubble I carry is heavy.
I can barely breathe.

But a man cannot sit forever
Holding his breath
And dying incrementally
For each tear unshed
As he waits for better times.

No! I will not wait!
I suck in more air and
Move deeper into the maze
Of cracks and constrictions
In the trembling bedrock.

Here my terrifying visions
Of fierce shape-shifting gods
Take on the form of a big silly nose!
Just as surely as God cannot be a nose
I cannot turn away.

As I laugh and breathe,
More of my rubble falls away.
“Oh, how did you find me here?”
I laugh, scream, quiver and pant
As you breathe Life into me.

New sight is born in the panting:
I follow faint trails of Light
Left behind by my ancestors
When they blazed their way
Through this same labyrinth
Out into beautiful Light.

© May 1, 2012 by John Arnaldi.
All rights reserved.


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