March 17 2023 - Salt Water

At the edge of everything I know is an ocean. It is vast and perfectly clear, reflecting a cloudless sky. A mist is rising, the only veil between me and the Great Mystery just beyond.

“At last, I’ve heard of this place!” Steeling my nerves and gathering faith I leap into the depths. The scene sounds perfect in a Zen story book, but in this ocean I sink like a stone, and wake up on the shore coughing and spitting out salt water. A seagull is calling, reminding me I’m not dead.

The only way to reach the Veil is through the ocean but there is no boat. The water is salty but this body is lead. Why would You bring me so close just to watch me sink? Now salt water is running down my cheeks.

So I take another gulp of the ocean, swallow down salt water, and cry out salt water. At first I don’t know why, but I look back to shore to everything I know. It is everyone and every single thing that I’ve loved, all the comfort and joy I’ve ever known. Slowly I’m beginning to understand.

A silent Bodhisattva floats past, which hardly seems fair. She is the ferry man but since this is a Zen story so she has no boat. Her face seems to say “Are you sure?” and “Go for it!” at the same time. Holding out her hand for payment she tells me the cost. “You only need to want it,” he whispers. His eyes are an infinity of Love.

Slowly I’m beginning to see. I made this ocean with everything that I know, everything I’ve chosen, and the only way passed is through. Before something new can be born, the old thing has to die, and if you’re playing for everything then the price is everything. Now I know what I want. I want to be alive, in this beautiful floating world, suspended like a soap bubble.

I know I can’t swim yet, so I’ll drink it, slowly, and cry it out. Each gulp is fear for sinking, and each gulp excitement for the journey ahead. Each tear is grieving the death of a dear one, but it’s okay to grieve now. Each tear is compassion for myself in this mess I’ve made, and each tear is thank you, I love you.

Hey you! Will you swim with me?