Wednesday, February 11, 2009

whiskey soaked ancient peace

A deep baritone lament hung in the hollow of his silence. It reverberated through the timbre of his confused thoughts as he lifted the glass of whiskey to his lips. Alone, sitting soundly in his leather chair at a time when the rest of the world seemed fast asleep, he wondered where his life was going to take him. So many pressures, so many complications piled up all around him that he found it almost impossible to drive a wedge through to sunlight.

Today, he closed his shop for good. He never thought he'd see the day. Today, he left his passion on top of the last pile he swept up off the floor and when he walked through the door for the last time, he felt beaten down. Left without a map, he knew he was stepping into what felt like an abyss. Or maybe it was perdition......his soul felt detached from his body. Where had he gone wrong, he wondered for the thousandth time as he swallowed deeply? How had this happened?

He felt numb. His only wish was to soften the numbness drink enough to drive his anger, his grief, his sorrow far enough away so that there was room to find a resting place where that ever elusive tranquility hung. But, it seemed like that blue water tranquility was only a mirage.

He hadn't felt relief in months and it showed in the dark circles under his eyes, in the haunting settled in his eyes. Others relied on him to be the provider, to be the anchor and here he was adrift, floating aimlessly in swift currents. Failure....failure.....he felt like a complete and utterly broken man. And the only thing he could think of were his desire to escape. He wanted to run away. Rock bottom and alone, he had to shore himself up to stay and face the music.

As he grabbed the bottle and poured himself another full tumbler, the night began to swallow him whole. His thoughts rushed together like a head on train crash. The sound, a combination of clashing cymbals and the high pitched of metal on metal brakes felt like it hit the front of the inside of his head with a wild cacophony of fear. Tinnitus of the spirit. It made him feel sick to his stomach. The only thing he could think of was to sit in the silent soaked in regret. There was nothing to look forward to in the morning.....nothing that couldn't be done on any other day. He felt so far removed from the rest of the world. The thought of seeing himself sitting on the sidelines while everyone else got up and went to work, school....destinations.....made him feel so shivery alone.

Lost in complete self-absorbed mourning, he neglected to hear anyone enter the room to turn on the stereo. All of a sudden, music was playing softly through the dark tunnel he was sitting in. It was a melodic comforting hymn which instead of disrupting his thoughts, fell into them with a soothing balm.....he recognized the voice and the song....and could feel it's aural massage lifting him out of himself. He could hear his breathing deepen in a calm. Instead of thinking of his situation, he began to pull himself into the tune.

Beside the garden walls,
We walk in haunts of ancient peace.
At night we rest and go to sleep
In haunts of ancient peace.

The love and light we seek,
The words we do not need to speak,
Here in this wondrous way we keep
These haunts of ancient peace.
Let us go there again
When we need some relief
Oh, when I can't find my feet
When I need rest and sleep.

The Sunday bells they chime
Around the countryside and towns
A song of harmony and rhyme
In haunts of ancient peace.
The holy grail we seek
On down by haunts of ancient peace.
We see the new Jerusalem
In haunts of ancient peace.

Oh, when I can't find my feet
Oh, when I need some relief
One more time again.
You know I want to go there one more time again.
Be still in haunts of ancient peace.

"Be still," whispered the voice in the room. "Be still and let me sit with you. Let's share a glass of whiskey friend. You are not alone....."

The broken man leaned over and poured the stranger a glass and handed it to him in silence. When he looked up at him however, even through the darknight, he could see the man's face.....saw a friendly smile, felt his calmness, saw the familiarity in his caring eyes. He took in the soft light which seemed to emanate kindness and love all around the stranger. Strangely, the encounter seemed like a natural happening, not an invasion of his home. Rather, it felt like a meeting between two old friends.

The man invited the stranger to sit down in the chair next to him, but the stranger chose to sit quietly on the rug in front of the man. As the music played on like soothing bathwater pouring in the background, the stranger whispered....

"Tell me your sorrows.....let me help you carry them."

Within the loving trust between two, the man sat and wept. Jesus, leaned forward, put his hand on the man's knee and wept too.

The words we do not need to speak,
Here in this wondrous way we keep
These haunts of ancient peace.
Let us go there again
When we need some relief
Oh, when I can't find my feet
When I need rest and sleep

be still........

the night will soon turn to dawn.

ps. the lyrics and song by Van Morrison...a hymn which always helps me find my own stillness


Gilly said...

"Haunts of ancient peace" So beautiful, so comforting, the words wrap around me like a blanket. I love the haunts where the peace and stillness calm thoughts, silence doubts, still tensions. Many of the places I know are too far away for me to reach now. But I can look at pictures of them and maybe, perhaps, try to recreate that peace I found there, in stillness, silence and aloneness.

Anonymous said...

Keep this up Dana and you'll be turning me into a believer.

Stunningly and beautifully written. It lifted my soul and spirit at a time I really needed it. Thankyou my friend.

Awareness said...

Gilly....My husband made me a compilation CD of Van Morrison songs and entitled it Celtic Soul. It's one of my favourites. The song Haunts of Ancient Peace is the first track on it. I will try to find the CD it originally comes from. It is so beautiful and honestly I often will play it as a way to calm down. I think you'd really enjoy it does conjure up pictures of places where we used to go to find the same feeling.

Gypsy....I am taking up Paul's cyber-monk invitation...! I can't seem to find any religious studies courses right now, which is where I believe I need to be, so I decided I'd continue to seek my learning through my reading and writing and share it as I go. Glad you enjoyed the story....x

Tim Scammell, Professional Technologist said...

So Jesus listens to Van Morrison? Is that the message here? :)
Do you think he's also a fan of Led Zeppelin?? Or Rush??
If he is then we can hang out one day to listen to some tunes and chat.
Great story Dana. Very powerful.

Awareness said...

Tim....Van channels Jesus, as does Bono, the Boss and Tom Waits. They are vessels as well as troubadours for spreading the mystery out to us all!! I do think Mr. Plant has had a bit of a conversion of late too since his pairing up with the ever ethereal Alison Kraus....Now whether Jesus listens to them? I believe all creative pursuits are a celebration of a Higher Power....Not only is He listening, He's dancing too!

Marja said...

So intriguing that I had to look up several words to better understand it. (My english doesn't reach far enough)
Peace and stillness is a bliss. "To haunt ancient peace" does that mean to find a place within from ancient times where peace can be found which you can revisit Still trying to grapple it

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

thank you,
for story and for song

Awareness said...

Marja....I translated in my head as a peace with a long history and depth to it. Eternal, foundational. It's a beautiful visual in my imagination.'re very welcome. The idea came from a story I read on another blogger's site about a friend of hers who had to close up her shop because of the economy. I kept thinking of her and how heartbreaking that would be. I don't know why I decided to write it through the eyes of a just came out that way. While I was writing it, I was listening the my Van CD. It filtered right in so nicely.

swile67 said...

like crossword romany, i needed this reminder today to "be still"'s been a crazy busy week with crazy students!!! I think there was a full moon. Also, I'm pms'ing so my patience level is not at its optimum!!:) no other words to say except beautiful Dana:) I like your cyber -monking! hopefully I can catch up on my writing this weekend. It is in me wanting to come out but will have to wait. Have a good rest of the week. I'll have to email you to ask you something!!

JP/deb said...

Dear Dana,

This brought tears to my eyes ... the tenderness of love in the moment when it was most needed. Your gift for storytelling is only surpassed by your fierce wisdom and spirituality.

Peace & love,

Awareness said...

Karyne...I think I may take the cyber monking to heart. :) I'm actually reading a couple of books right now that are feeding my thoughts and generating newbies...have you read Blue Like Jazz? A friend just gave it to me...and another just arrived in the mail from a good friend....its the interpretation of St. Benedict's writings. So....lots of food for thought.

Deb...thank you for this....I began writing it on the weekend and didn't know where it was headed until last night when it seemed to fall into place. sometimes it just needs a little hibernation.

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

oh. my. god.

oh. my. god.

Anonymous said...

You captured the sense of despair one feels when everything is lost so well. There is that moment, I think, where you say to yourself :'I just can't go on. I can't do it anymore.'
Finding the stillness was a magic touch. If only it would happen that way for all of us.....

Awareness said...

Irish... :) you made my day. you really did.

Selma...I think we ache for stillness, for a break from the cacophony drumming inside ourselves. We live in a time when anxiety and stress is on high most days....I think this is why so many are in search of something to hold onto, something to surrender to.....
Yes, if I could wish for one thing for humanity it would be stillness.