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  • Forbidden Cities of the Soul

    “I'll miss the vision where you stood. And I would touch you if I could.”
    Song lyric by Justin Timberlake

    Once a year, our whole school, grades 4 through 8, would ride our horses up into the mountains and camp out for two weeks in the Sespe Wilderness.

    This was part of the curriculum, Nature Studies and all that, but it ended up always being a great deal of wild fun.

    One night, I was on kitchen duty in the faded olive green U.S. Forest Service cabin that served as our dining room and bunkhouse for those cowards who did not want to sleep under the stars.

    It was the evening we had eaten rattlesnake, which tasted surprisingly like chicken and was delicious.

    As I washed the dishes, I saw some silverware at the bottom of the sink, and reached down through the soapy water to pick it up.

    But it was as though there was an invisible barrier between my hands and the forks, knives and spoons.

    I could see them. I knew they were there. I kept feeling around for them, always to be blocked.

    I could not touch them.

    I had a moment of what felt like total disconnect from reality, at least the reality I knew.

    If you see silverware at the bottom of a sink, you should be able to reach down and pick it up.

    Then I realized that there was a heavy Pyrex glass plate covering up the silverware, and that all I had to do was pick up the plate. Simple.

    Years later, I cannot forget this moment: Seeing something right at hand, but not being able to touch it, coming up again and again against an invisible barrier.

    This can happen in a relationship, when no matter how much you want to reach someone, be seen by them, connect with them, there is a barrier that stops you, holds you back, defeats you totally.

    It is invisible, but as present as your own heartbeat, as your hot tears.

    You cannot see this barrier, but try as you will, it is impossible to break through.

    On the surface, everything seems normal, but try to close the distance, and you are blocked. Again and again.

    Maybe you are blocked by another’s fear of intimacy. Maybe you are blocked by some ancient pain that has surfaced for them.

    Maybe you are blocked because you are trying to enter a Forbidden City of the Soul, and the timing for connection is just not right.

    Maybe you are blocked because of something you said, or did, which has caused retreat in the other.

    Maybe, maybe…and your questions trail off and disappear into the sky like vapor trails.

    Have you felt this? Are you in any situations where you are feeling it now?

    When this happens, what do you do? Do you have any answers, any answers at all?

    (Photo taken by AJN in the virtual 3-D world of Second Life, Kowloon sim)
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