Sicut et Signa Offerimus

Qui signa invenimus
Sicut et signa offerimus

From time immemorial, it has been inviolable custom among spiritual teachers and those who practice spiritual teachings to contribute to the signs they witness in times of momentous spiritual events. We who have discovered many wondrous things must now, in some meaningful and useful way, leave behind for those who are yet to pass through this world some sign, testament, account, record, memento, memoir, monument, etc.

We do this to honor our shared experience and, more importantly, to ensure that despite the changes of time and the exigencies of history, someone somewhere in some unknowable future will encounter the mystery that we have received.

That which we ourselves have received we must faithfully hand on to others.

~BT Waldbillig
December 14, 2016

By the Sign of Hermes

As Dante the Little Man and I take our daily walks through New York City, typically in Washington Heights and the Bronx, every once in a while we come across the Sign of Hermes: a pair of shoes (or construction boots, go-go heels, football cleats, etc.) tied together and dangling from a light pole or telephone wire or tree limb. Hermes, you recall, was the ancient Greek messenger god known for his winged sandals. He was the patron of dreams and divination, transitions and journeys; he was also a bringer of fire, not unlike Prometheus.

People give their sneakers a toss for a variety of reasons, but most often they do it to commemorate some sort of passage. It might be a graduation, moving on from an unhelpful relationship, bringing a child into the world, an important sports victory. Many people also make the Sign of Hermes to mark a moment of spiritual significance, like a bat mitzvah, conversion of life, some flash of insight, or commitment to a path that will forever change the course of life.

Whether we realize it or not, we all stand at a threshold, a place of passage from the world we once knew to a new reality that we do not yet understand. However, there is no need to feel small or weak or inadequate, as no one crosses this threshold alone. We make this passage together, as a family.

If, at times, we experience fear or hesitation, let us not worry, for together we have strength, wisdom, and courage sufficient to face whatever may arise. Together we will make the journey from darkness to light. Together we will pass from death to life.

~BT Waldbillig
December 11, 2016

Two Paths as One

In the moment of trial
Two paths will be as one

While we are tempted to regard the lives of warriors, mercenaries, assassins, mariners, soldiers, prisoners, slaves, and madmen as less important than the lives of those regarded as great or noble or holy by this world, we do well to recall that the great, the noble, and the holy are few, self-concerned, passing, and keen that others might perceive their value. Let us not disturb them, Friends, and let us not imitate them. Ours is not reward, recompense, or achievement so easily earned or so lightly regarded.

Brother will be as Father
And Father as Friend

What began as a family of blood has become a family of spirit. From time immemorial, some small number of our kind have dedicated themselves to an impossible task and in so doing become family to one another. They have often remained, to outward appearance, that which they were before: beggar, farmer, courtesan, merchant, slave, monk, spouse, teacher, thief, and so on; from many peoples and nations; some following this god or that, others following none at all; at times warring with one another, at times living in peace. Yet all consecrated to a single purpose.

The way forward
Is the path of return

A family of blood alone or name alone or appearance alone might easily perish from existence, by chance or by design. But a family of spirit endures. So long as there is life in this place we inhabit and call the world, a family of spirit can endure. But more wondrously, a family of spirit has the power to endure beyond what we understand as the world, beyond what we know as life. For us, our experience of life is as a twig or reed, whether short or long, but for some life is as water or wind or light, flowing and never ending, limitless and without boundaries — or so it seems from our vantage. Yet they are family to us and we to them. How strange and beautiful the mystery!

~BT Waldbillig
December  9, 2016

We Are Nineveh

By now we have understood that we are not alone in the universe. In a moment such as this it behooves us to leave aside the old, habitual ways of thinking, of relating to one another, of communicating, of projecting our place in the universe, of holding vendetta against our brothers and sisters and their descendants.

Let me share with you a dream I had not long ago:

I found myself on a terrifying field of war standing before the temple of Mars Ultor. As I attempted to offer sacrifice at the temple, a vicious war dog suddenly appeared and charged at me, knocking me to the ground. As I regained my wits, I saw the war dog next to the sacrifice, turned away from me. The war dog urinated on the sacrifice. Unable to control myself at the sight, I began to laugh. At the sound of my laughter, the war dog turned toward me, no longer hostile and bellicose. I approached the majestic creature and, climbing on his back, set off on a long journey.

It is not clear to me that our kind will endure in the universe. Certainly if we continue in our old ways of being and doing, there is no hope at all. Let me repeat that: No hope at all.

We have heard the Prophet Jonah cry out: “Forty days and Nineveh will be no more!” You will recall that the people of Nineveh changed their ways and reformed their lives, sparing their magnificent city a most terrible fate.

Today I say to you: “Forty days and Nineveh will be no more!” The choice is ours. Either we change our ways or our kind will perish from the universe.

Lest all this seem too grim, I should say that when I asked Dante the Little Man what he thought would happen to the humans of Earth, he laughed and kissed my face.

I, too, am hopeful and confident that our tree will endure unto endless ages. May it be so.

~BT Waldbillig
December 7, 2016

On Finding Meaning

Just the other evening as Dante the Little Man and I were walking together, we turned our gaze heavenward and there appeared in the darkness of the sky three stars that seemed to speak to us. Their arrangement reminded me of the Gregorian chant notation for that powerful passage in the Praeconium Paschale:

Haec nox est!
(This Is the Night!)

Later in the evening as I was looking through some of my mother’s old drawings and sketches, I came upon one drawing with a design that seemed to echo the patterns I had observed in the darkness earlier. Naturally, the similarity of patterns was pure coincidence. Still, somehow I found meaning in the mysterious relationship that inhabits distant and seemingly unrelated things like an ancient alignment of stars, a simple drawing made years ago and far away by someone I love, a traditional chant that echoes through my consciousness, and the wondrous experience of a passing moment made possible by a mongrel dog.

The one thing we cannot live without is meaning. We simply cannot bear the weight of meaningless: sooner or later it annihilates us from the inside outward. It strikes me that in this moment of dark and night we are actually in process of discovering whether our existence has meaning. If there is no meaning, our kind will have no future at all. But if, as I suspect, there is some meaning — a meaning that no word or idea could ever hope to capture — then we stand at the threshold of a reality greater than any of us could ever imagine.

~BT Waldbillig
September 5, 2016