Everything is bullshit but the open hand

What has a decade of monastic retreats taught me? Reception. I believe. Not much else. I’m still a tin-man carrying my suitcase full of aluminum siding brochures. Still missing too many subtle blues in a shine-shot sky. And on too many days, in the midst of plenty, it still feels like my skin is electric-dry and my run has ran out.

Yeah, and even though the promise of spring gets me through winter I’m still afraid of the struggle of coming up out of the ground alive. Too often I prefer the dormancy of winter even when things are going green all around me.

But give me this: I receive more easily. Listen a little closer. Reject a little less readily. I’m a bit more open to inevitabilities. And slightly less driven by my need for the approving glance. Although this last one is still a bitch…please, as Emily D. says, "judge tenderly of me."

Do I want peace more? Yes. But I’m more aware of my own folly in attempting to achieve it. So what of a decade of monastic retreats?

It comes to this single insight that you can get just as easily tripping down an inner-city alley: "Everything is bullshit but the open hand" (Bruce Cockburn). And if you crank up Cockburn’s Strange Waters and hear this line while you’re roaring west on the Yellowhead, gunning past Kittscotty, you’ll crash right into the psalm and be moved to tears and your skin will frisson like you’re on MDA.


For a meditation on this theme check this.


  1. Stephen,

    Man. I’ve never met you up close and in person. I’ve seen much of your heart in the things you write. But this one is about as close to meeting someone as you can get without actually staring them in the face.

    Bullshit. Happens to be one of my favorite words. Some things just can’t be described without the word.

    Thanks for your open honest.

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