You are invited, a poem, followed by reflection

You are invited

You are invited
to a high mountain wedding
at the bend in the river
where the air is as thin
as the weave
of a dream

You are invited
to where glacial melt
flows
out of the mountain’s shadow,
and quickens
before it leaps into space.
The minister is an old shaman

whose eyes reflect the mountains
that protect his soul
from the likes of you.
And yet,
you are invited!
So, you follow the river all the way up

through the hills
and gorges,
against the current, against gravity
to this high place of gathering.
You deserve a rest!
You are weary,

weary to the bone.
All your ideas are weary.
Your dreams
are that flock of birds
chattering in the sycamores
with all the flight gone from their wings

as if it is the end of the longest day,
but in truth it is early!
Rest and watch these ancient families arrive
on invisible paths.
The bride’s dress,
river-washed,

is flapping in the breeze
against white peaks.
You, one seven-billionth
of the human race,
are invited
to witness this union.

You, whose people have picked clean
the fruiting branch,
sanctioned the undoing of nature,
and have not yet even learned to be sorry,
you,
who brought nothing to share,

will have to eat
whatever others bring.
You will watch them dance the eagle
at the wedding party.
You will watch them dance the mountain!
How strange for you.

But first you will
drink way too much,
so you won’t
remember when,
dancing, you
stepped barefoot
in the aching river,

where you lost your footing and fell.
But surely you will remember
how the river embraced you!
And you will also remember
when you were rescued
to resounding laugher.

And you will also remember
that while you were
under the water,
you heard the heart-beat of the river
because it filled your heart with joy.
You are invited to remember!

The bride could be your daughter!
Her white dress
is the clouds on the mountain
her dress is the dogwood blossoms
by the waterfall that are
almost too bright for your eyes.

You aren’t Dante in Paradise
dazzled by the glory of heaven,
but, like Dante,
you made it through Purgatory
and need no longer be blind-sided
by the bitter world.

You are invited.
to fully open your eyes now,
to become the plaything of time
to source life,
to journey at will
and never lose your way.

After a good night’s sleep
you will help
recover the instructions
that will enable your people to continue —
your people of the shrinking islands,
your people of the stinking cities

and the sinking shores,
your mountain and valley people,
your desert people and city people
your sick and hungry people
cherished by the brightest stars,
people of the straight river

and the drought-stricken plain . . .
people of the warring lands,
the poor lands and the sad lands,
the bitter lands.
Isn’t this air sweet?
Remember this high place.

And when you return to the valley,
tell the old woman
to free the horses.
Tell the old man to patch the tent.
You are invited.
The mountains invited you.

The water and the smoke
invited you.
The wind invited you.
See that old man
who just showed up?
The one who is making people laugh with his antics,

the one who is teasing the bride
and now he is taking the groom aside
with his hand on his shoulder?
Of course you do!
He is the shaman.
He invited you.

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