I recently read a book on feng shui by Denise Linn. It’s a great tutorial for increasing awareness of personal symbols. Emily Dickinson’s “You taught me Waiting with Myself – ” may go a bit further by uncovering why such a process matters.

You taught me Waiting with Myself –
Appointment strictly kept –
You taught Me fortitude of Fate –
This – also – I have learnt –

An Altitude of Death, that could
No bitterer debar
Than Life – had done – before it –
Yet – there is a Science more –

The Heaven you know – to understand
That you be not ashamed
of Me- in Christ’s bright Audience
Opon the further Hand

I don’t pretend to grasp all the syntax, including all the second or first person pronouns and their references. Nevertheless, I am fascinated with the idea of being taught how to accomplish a “Waiting with Myself -“.

Without having divulged personal motivations, the poem’s serious intent is hinted in the high priority of an “Appointment strictly kept -”.  What, we might ask, is the alternative to such dedicated effort? For me, if the driving motivation is to go deeper into the what-ifs of personal barriers and hangups there’s a risk of intellectualization and “beating the dead horse” of old experiences and situations. When what I really need is feeling or solicitude.

While I wait with myself, as in meditation, I am ideally only aware of the present. (In some feng shui meditative exercises, I was amazed at present meanings I give to objects that have their origins in my past.) The poem follows meditative waiting with myself with acknowledgment of being compelled by the future. “You taught Me fortitude of Fate -”.

The wonderfully transitional “This – also – I have learnt -” reiterates fate’s impervious fortitude, or mettle; and, levels my attention on “An Altitude of Death,…”. I believe this line, and the next two, refer to what I have already said about the risks involved in too much intellectualization of private quandries and concerns.  On and on it can go until paralysis sets in, more like death – or, at least one of its classifications – so that the effect is as bad as the cause. “(T)hat could/No bitterer debar/Than Life – had done – before it -” gives to death all its customary bitterness.

But, wait! Science to the rescue!

Is “Yet – there is a Science more -” a false clue about how to be liberated from this self-imposed brainiac solution?

For now the poem speaks the language of the soul; the supportive sounds of “The Heaven you know – to understand/That you be not ashamed”.  The Heaven.  You know.  To understand.

Instead of a level in hell, an altitude of death, the upper regions of consciousness, “Me- in Christ’s bright Audience” are foretold.  I read now of feeling. Sympathy and compassion lead away from self-inflicted isolation to a place where the brightest audience awaits. There is real satisfaction when “That you be not ashamed” takes hold with compassionate understanding.  Successful acceptance of psychological realities leads to personal freedom. The things audiences do best, applause, or “give a hand,” are echoed when “Opon the further Hand” I place my trust. Both here-and-now, as well as further and unseen. That may be the applause of eternity – an inner condition with myself.

Ponder A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way