Darkness Is Asking To Be Loved

If you’re still holding up and trying to meditate right now, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel invites you to fall down.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
2 June 2020
The George Floyd Memorial outside Cup Foods at Chicago Ave and E 38th St in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Lorie Shaull.

By now we have lost the tiny sense of peace we created for ourselves. Our composure is an idea long gone, reflected in the grinding of our teeth and locked jaws.

If you are still holding up trying to meditate, I invite you to fall down. Fall down on the earth. Come down here and smell the sweat of terror on your skin, overpowering the scent of agarwood. Come down on all fours and greet the darkness that reeks of death, reaches out its desperate hand and asks to be loved as much as we love the light it gives.

Breathe for those gasping for air.

Come down here on this earth and breathe for those gasping for air. Hear each scream as a bell that never stops ringing. Bury your face in the mud of this intimate place, in this shared disease and tragedy.

If you have nothing to say, now is the time for the deeper silence honed that does not apologize or seeks something kind to say. And yet the deeper silence is not quiet. It whispers in the dark and wakes you from the nightmare.

Come down here and be still on the earth. Let loose shame, rage, guilt, grief, pain, and make a river of it.

Come down here. Catch the love poems hidden in the shouting, watch the unfolding of the seasons from the ground, look up at the sky. And when it hurts from being down here so long, roll over and see what you couldn’t see from the other side.

Breathe out loud. No particular posture needed.

Fall down onto the earth. Fall off your soft cushions. Come down here. Come down here, where the only lullaby tonight will be the sound of your heart drumming the songs you were born with.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

is a Soto Zen priest, author, and poet. A dharma heir of the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage, her practice is also influenced by Native American and African indigenous traditions. Her most recent book is The Shamanic Bones of Zen: Revealing the Ancestral Spirit and Mystical Heart of a Sacred Tradition.