Today we continue our early spring theme, Inspiration, where we showcase examples of the poetic imagination flowing from the depths of the universe through the minds and hands of Naturalistic Pagans and friends.
“The Ordeal” by Wayne Martin Mellinger, Ph.D.
None of us wants to descend into the devil’s den,
to experience absolute terror and unbearable misery,
to sail across the River Styx and suffer horrible bodily pains,
nights of endless tears and days of lost wandering.
But this is an essential part of the sacred journey.
This is “the Ordeal”–and there is no way
to know the deepest spiritual truths if you have not come here.
There is no way to prepare for this.
There is no way to anticipate these hardships,
for the horrors that shall befall you, and the sacrifices
you shall have to make are unfathomable.
Can you imagine running all night screaming like a banshee
having some ghoulish demon chasing you into the dark forest
until you cower under some log shivering like a scared chiwawa?
At dawn you wonder what was real and quickly return to morning routines
lest some goblin not allow you to come back.
And then comes reflection, begs of forgiveness and promises to never do it again.
If only we would pray like this every morning!
But no, it takes being frightened to death to hold the holy chalice
and recite these magical incantations.
My name is Wayne Martin Mellinger, Ph.D. I am a Santa Barbara-based social justice educator, activist and writer. I teach in the BA Program in Liberal Studies at Antioch University Santa Barbara, a program which promotes “praxis for social justice” in every class. I am also a social worker with a passion for helping our neighbors on the streets transition into permanent housing and self-sufficiency, especially those beset by mental health challenges and addictions. I see this work as a ministry and I enjoy joining with others from diverse faiths and secular backgrounds in these efforts to build community locally and sustainability globally.