a litany from the open heart
I want to pause a moment on this insight I mentioned last time, that nothing has been wasted. Even when it felt like my life was unadulterated pain and misery, there were elements that got me to where I am now.
On Saturday evening, I went to Dances of Universal Peace, a Sufi event where all comers sing and dance together, songs and dances from traditions all over the world. I had a moment of self-consciousness about this bigger body I now find myself in, and I looked around the room at the 12 or 15 of us ranging in age from 20s to 70s, ranging from tall to tiny, from broad to spindly, dark skin to white skin, myself included in the circle, and my heart opened wide.
"Physician, Heal Thyself"--sine qua non
Given that I learned to honor and take care of myself in the thick of working all day long helping others with their health, I was aware of the danger of falling back into old habits once that structure and motivation were gone. My intention was and is that the clinic experience was transformational for me in this respect; although I’m not working at that pace right now, I’m holding the space and entrainment to continue to work with people, at that degree of intensity when necessary.
So here are some of the ways I’ve been continuing to take care of the sacred vessel; many of these will merit follow-up posts of their own.
spirituality without religion
Today, December 17th, is the 742nd anniversary of Rumi's death. The Sufi community celebrates loved ones' or heroes' death days, or urs, with informal but intentional gatherings in celebration of the life and to reflect on how that life lives on in our own lives. So tonight was different from the normal Thursday night Sufi gatherings.
We shared our favorite Rumi poems, we squeezed a couple of Dances of Universal Peace into the narrow confines of the Little Chapel, we did a couple of zikr practices and a carefully contained dervish whirl.
Interesting to reflect on Rumi's perennial appeal and what an apt representative he is of what we call Sufism.
seeing begets looking
As I've continued to process last week's thefts, the feeling of violation, I've been resisting the temptation to blame myself for manifesting the woes and at the same time attempting to ask, without self pity, what I can do/could have done differently. What is it that needs my attention and is not getting it?
Again with the questions. Perhaps there's a beautiful symmetry in the fact that I find questions so useful everywhere and always and in the fact that the one quality on which I pride myself and which I hope never to lose is that of listening/being a good listener. But am I listening enough right now? I feel, rather, that I'm grasping desperately...
When I lived in California and Hawaii, I spent a lot of time pruning trees, climbing trees, harvesting trees, standing back and looking at trees. I was the fruit fairy, I was Ela-treela. Ultimately, I'm not built for it--too small and undermuscled, fast track to carpal tunnel and lumbar spine disabilities--and in order to do it "professionally" almost anywhere, I'd have had to adopt tools and a style of working that wouldn't suit me, and, I think, don't really suit the trees either.
But I'm glad that I can continue to do the work as an amateur, which truly means a lover, working with sincere intent to treat the tree in best possible way. To my last post's point about taking the time to stand back and contemplate the task without being in a rush toward the next thing, working trees taught me a lot about standing back and looking--with all my senses.
bolstering the cliche
We love our cliches and jingles, but there's something really satisfying about words and phrases that step out and step back, are mirror images of themselves--"level"--"radar"--"madam I'm Adam." These are palindromes, which means (in Greek) that they "run backward." In Latin the word would be "retrocourse."
But "it is what it is" isn't quite a palindrome, and so "palindrome" is not the word for this spell.
The word is "chiasmus"--a word named after a letter.
equinox, new moon, solar eclipse
The solstice was special because it coincided with new moon. Yesterday's equinox was special because it coincided not only with a new moon, but with a total solar eclipse thirteen hours prior. It's also a super moon, being in Pisces--the final zodiac sign--as we pass into Aries--the first sign--and begin the cycle again.
The solar eclipse together with the Pisces energy weaves in some finality amid the forward-looking springtime aspect of the equinox. A good time to move out of one set of habits and begin to inhabit one's life in a new way, but also a good time to move out of life altogether. Several people I know have had loved ones pass over, some of their own volition, in the past couple of weeks, and there will be more in the next few weeks. Death is change, and change is death.