Of all the things I’ve done in life
or ever thus will do,
there’s only one which carries
and that’s what I will share this evening
here and now with you.
I’ve conquered peaks and delved in caves
and loved with all my soul.
I’ve failed and then recovered full,
and better than before.
I’ve strode this world so free, wide-eyed;
yet nothing made me whole.
I’ve filled my purse — my belly too,
indulged myself in life.
I’ve played, filled halls, and heard applause,
but hollowness I heard.
I couldn’t find the golden mean —
not even with a wife!
And then, one day, out of the blue,
and with no warning shown,
as I was sitting quietly
while contemplating time,
I felt the urge to fall down through
a voidsome space unknown.
Despite that urge (I fought it hard
with panic in my heart.
I knew it meant the death of me),
repulsed and drawn was I.
But in the end, I realised
that’s how true life must start.
The only reason that we’re here
(the best that I can give)
is sweet surrender’s kiss to know
if we’ll accept the loss.
It seems ironic — yes, I know —
to live to die… to live!
Clinging desperately to life
will surely mean its loss.
For we were made for more than that,
as true explorers know.
The only way to live is die…
and then take up our cross.
You’ll think all this sounds so bizarre
until you find that you
have nothing more to lose in life
except this life itself.
So I surrendered even that —
relinquished all I knew.
Each time we give up on ourselves
and put some other first
(be it a human or some thing
which lies outside ourselves),
we’re acting out, in some small way,
the yielding which we thirst.
For every time we give ourselves
away in any sense,
that merely is a substitute
for sweet surrender’s death:
A lover’s arms; orgasmic streams —
To lose ourselves in any way
in substitute we crave.
Thus, some get drunk, spaced out on drugs,
come in some hooker’s hole.
But all these surrogative schemes
seduce us and enslave.
To those who seek to save their lives,
to cling to them in vain
(for such surrenderment we dread,
lest we should disappear),
there’s just one thing I have to say:
“Take up your cross!”, again.
Surrenderment, when done in full,
that we have not evolved from apes:
By unseen hands we’re made!
And so I willingly submit
to One by whom I’m sent.
What do we have that we have not
received from hidden hands?
Thus, I eat at meals with thanks
for daily bread obtained.
That, also, is surrendering —
to trust in God, not man.
Now if you’ll chew on what I say,
I think you’ll see it’s true.
“Cling on to life, it will be lost”,
the greatest mouth has said.
But if you just lay down your life
for God, life will ensue.
We each have our own place within
the tapestry we see.
We’re here to die to all that’s false
then live in truth divine.
To open up that door of life,
surrender is the key.
[COMING SOON: a commentary to go with this poem. An article entitled “The Twin Pillars of Spirituality: Surrender & Vigilance”. For one without the other is a spiritual disaster leading to shipwreck]
© Alan Morrison, 2019