I carry an unusual coin in my pocket, and renew it each year, so it remains fresh, so to speak. It has the phrase: to thine own self be true, which is a scriptural reference, but to what book and passage I am not remembering, and it matters not at all. Though I do like the thine. At the end of the day, it is what I have to rely on, it is the bumper sticker that has outlasted all the others.

I am in the grip of something. It is connected to my recent experience on retreat, in which I encountered several , what…spirits, images, knowings, sayings, liminations, projections, graces, shadows, are any of these words working? I went, or was taken, to a place not of my own making, or so I suppose, but rather transported, drawn, shown. No worries, I am not talking about a physical transposition, no bi-location, nothing of the sort. I was just sitting. But nonetheless, I was convicted.

The conviction which so moved me, grabbed me, elated me, seems now like a mirage, or a trick, or a, let the psychologist have his say, a projection. And something else, perhaps the same thing, now grips me differently. It is as if I experience two sides of some reality outside of my control, one side consoling and one side disrupting.

My intuition says they are the same, but my intellect and my emotions are at profound odds with this.

My intellect wants to chuck the whole endeavor, and agnosticize myself, go on my merry way, acknowledge I don’t know much at all of anything that pertains even remotely to the cosmic questions. My emotions say enough already, you’ve been having this turmoil all of your life. Really. Basta!

My body, the arena of this intense activity, appears neutral, though tired. But it is knowing something other than that which my intellect and my emotions can know. It is somehow aligned with my intuition, my soul…and there I go again with another one of those words, words I am not liking using these days.

Bill Ball was the longtime boy-genius director of the great American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and he was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle one day in 1979: I have learned to trust my intuition at all times, with every person, in every situation. I read that and was shaken. I knew what he knew to be true was abiding for me as well. I clipped that quote and it has been on my bulletin board ever since.

My intuition is that everything is okay right now, though so much seems to be in turmoil. I am glad for that. But I am unsettled. And I notice, when I am, I am able to notice that many others are, too. My friends at San Quentin are suffering some profound losses: mothers dying while their sons remain manacled, earned paroles gratuitously denied, wives receiving difficult diagnoses with husbands unable to offer a consoling touch. And free persons, a term of art that prisoners use for us, are hurting, too. Marriages in turmoil, unable to see the love beneath; loved ones stuck in miasma; men struggling to put down the bottle and pick up the requisite humility; families torn apart by cancer or routine or unforgiven grievances from years past; friendships languishing for lack of trust. Nothing unusual here, or particular to me, but usual, the stuff of all of our lives.

The transporting grace of the silence of the aesthetically perfect zendo in which I sat recently in Oregon is at a contradistinction to all of the pain I met on my return. My friend reminds me I cannot heal it. I disheartingly agree, though I am want to argue.

Again I quote the great Julian of Norwich: Sin is necessary, but all will be well, and all will be well, and every which kind of thing will be well.

I like this quote so much, I suspect, because I cannot penetrate it. I cannot get past the first three words, but again, my intuition underscores their truth.

I am wanting a sinless world, a sinless planet, a sinless country, mainly, a sinless me. A perfect me. And what a perfect dead in that is. While sitting in the zendo, it felt perfect. I felt perfect. But I don’t get to sit all day.

Lately, the corporal works of mercy have been echoing in my mind. When faith is obscured, and hope eludes, and love seems an ideal, they remain. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, visiting the sick, setting free the captives. This morning I perused scripture, which I think I know so well, and cannot find them anywhere. But they exist, permanently, imprinted on my mind, rather, in my heart, as the foundation of any sitting in any zendo in Oregon or anywhere else, of any preaching or dogma or ritual or teaching or spiritual movement or limination of the soul. My intuition reminds me of their always universal and abiding grip on my life. They cannot be denied, nor ought I think they can. The town you live in, Bill, this beautiful Santa Rosa, has humans, and animals, in need today. Get up, get out, and find someone besides yourself to feed today. The rest will come, the balance will return, and you may yet get to sit and elimn again before its all done.