The Alchemist’s Dream

Blue bowl

I’m sad that I don’t know the name of the potter who created this beautiful blue-glazed terracotta bowl, and I was even sadder when I accidentally broke it.  But now it’s a reminder of a spiritual insight: that our brokenness can become a source of beauty… 

This song is for anyone who’s going through a difficult time.  I’ve been struggling with all sorts of things recently – professional and religious identity, second-hand racism, homophobia, the practicalities of day-to-day life as a freelancer and single parent, and more besides.  Being an empath doesn’t help, because unless I’m very conscious and careful I find myself taking on everyone else’s pain and trauma, along with my own!

For those who aren’t familiar with alchemy, it’s an ancient science that sought to turn base metals – everyday metals like iron and lead – into gold.  The alchemist’s quest is a metaphor for life itself: the discovery of the magical Elixir that transforms the mundane into something beautiful.   This Elixir is no more and no less than the Deep Mystery that the members of the Magdalene Fellowship, in my book The Nineteen Songs of Remembering, refer to as ‘The Love beyond all names’.

So ‘The Alchemist’s Dream’ is a way of trying to see challenges and struggles in a different light.   It’s sometimes hard not to feel envious of those people who seem to ‘have it all’ – the ones who look as though they’re just breezing through life, with good health, a thriving business or a well-paid job, a loving family, and a comfortable home.  But what  if life was never meant to be easy?  What if it’s through the brokenness that we learn to shine, and through accepting pain that we realise our deepest potential?

The Alchemist’s Dream: song lyrics

Break us again, O Beloved!

For whenever you break us,

You gather us up with such infinite tenderness

That in some distant corner of some distant vision,

Our souls hear your innermost song in the silence,

And your hands will remake us

With a Love that we cannot express…

 

Yes, there are those who survive this lifetime intact,

Yes, there are those who hold firm and refuse to surrender…

But where is the magic and where is the rapture in that?

For we only become our true selves in the hands of the Mender.

 

Break us again, O Beloved!

For whenever you break us,

The heat of your flame sparks a melody in our veins,

And the songs that we sing start to echo your mystery,

Till some of the listeners find their own echoes…

And the places they take us

Are the places where power remains.

 

Yes, there are those who survive this lifetime intact…

 

Break us again, O Beloved!

For whenever you break us,

You mend every crack with the purest of molten gold;

Then the others who carry the scars of your mending

Can recognise us as their trusted companions,

And they’ll gather to wake us…

And a new story starts to unfold.

 

Yes, there are those who survive this lifetime intact…

 

Break us again, O Beloved!

For whenever you break us,

And mend us with gold, there’s a trace of your Love revealed;

Transformation is wrought by the cruellest of breaking,

And the deepest surrender, and the sweetest remaking…

Till they start to mistake us

For the Alchemist’s vision fulfilled…

 

Nothing remains of the people we were,

Nothing remains of the life we once knew;

Though our substance is clay, yet we shimmer with gold,

And we look at each other, and see only You…

So at last, in this lifetime, the Alchemist’s dream is fulfilled!

 

© Gemma Burford, 2017

Advertisements