Posted - 01/18/2010 09:56pm
3 Comments | Add Comment


January 2010

Sonoma, California


Twenty years ago I met a man who glimpsed worlds beyond the sea, who carried in his heart's memory stories fit to suit each occasion.  He introduced me to an ancient story deeply imbued in Persian Sufism.  Sufism, at the essence of the inner mystical dimension of Islam, is, according to classical scholars "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart...." 


And I, twenty years on, ashes on the fire, apprehend -- by heart -- all the arteries I traversed before I came tumbling down.  This morning brought sorrow, this morning brought tears, they bloomed like a flower, from deep seeded fears....I know that you're weary....It remained only for me to rise again, if I could.  Come sit down beside me, you ghosts of the pyre, and nightly remind me, ashes on the fire...In silence I sit here and read the flames....


Is there anything more resplendent than reparation of the heart?  If there is, I do not know it. 


I have, it seems, forever been entranced by Whirling Dervishes and the magnetism of the Sufi poet of love, Jalal ad-Muhammad Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, theologian and mystic.  Rumi lived a life of spellbinding passion.  His path to God was through dance, poetry and music.  A man for love, Rumi perched on the precipice of risk, drenched with desire so consuming that only God could quench his thirst. 


And what about the uttermost reparation of heart, that which Rumi expressed as written on his epitaph at his burial site in Konya, Turkey?  When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.  A meditation for the living, for life.


The man who glimpsed worlds beyond the sea, who carried in his heart's memory stories fit to suit each occasion, recounted the story of the farmer whose only horse ran away.  On that evening the neighbours gathered to sympathize with him, for surely this was such bad luck.  Now your farm will suffer and you will not be able to plow, the neighbours warned the farmer.  Such a terrible thing to have happened to you, they said. 


The farmer said, "maybe yes, maybe no."


The next day the horse returned and brought him six wild horses, and the neighbours came to congratulate him and celebrate his good fortune.  Now you are richer than before, they said.  Surely now this has turned out to be such a very good thing, for you, after all.


The farmer said, "maybe yes, maybe no."


The following day, the son saddled and rode one of the wild horses.  He was thrown off the horse and broke his leg.  Now the son could not work on the farm.  Again the neighbours came to offer their sympathy for such an inconvenient truth.  They noted that there was more work than the farmer could handle and surely now he would become poor.  Such bad luck, indeed.


The farmer said, "maybe yes, maybe no."


The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to take all the young men for the army, but because of his broken leg, the farmer's son was disallowed.  When the neigbours arrived again, they said how very fortunate the farmer was, as things had worked out after all.  Knowing well that most young men never return from the war alive, this was the best fortune yet.


And the old farmer said, "maybe yes, maybe no."


The old farmer's view of the world was such that he understood the nature of life itself.  Fortune.  Misfortune.  Life.  Death.  Love.  Passion.  Laughter.  Tears.  Up.  Down.  Everything comes and goes, nothing remains the same.  There is no beginning and no end, and we just as soon forget as remember.  As we watch ocean waves, are they not turbulent one moment and serene the next as they roar, and then undulate to the shore?  It is a movement with no beginning and no end, rather a cyclical pattern of nature, yes? 


In retrospect, I've spent a lifetime caught up in each moment, certain that it was the only moment that mattered, beyond all moments past and all moments to come.  And in that moment, it was the only moment that mattered.  In that moment, it was always singular as a moment in time like no other.  Fortunate moment.  Misfortunate moment.  Life moment.  Death moment.  Love moment.  Passion moment.  Laughter moment.  Tears moment.  Up moment.  Down moment.


What will I do differently today, in this new life unfolding...this life after the death of my beloved, after the laughter, after the tears, after the fortune, after the misfortune, after the passion, after standing up and exhaustively falling down?  Will I embrace the moment again?  Will I again believe I am in the only moment, second to no other moment in time?  Will I rise and then take a spill again on a moment's notice, in the momentary blink of an eye, from moment to moment?  Will this moment of love be any more or less than the last moment? 


Maybe yes, maybe no. 


It is said the only constant in life is change.  I say the only constant in life is love.  From moment to moment I am love, submersed like the finest tea leaves from Ceylon, needing only a moment to gather strength before quenching my thirst for the next moment to come.  This magic moment, so different and so new....



The Jukebox

Insert 25 cents and press here:

This Magic Moment

Dance Me To The End of Love

Leonard Cohen





(Ashes on the Fire lyrics by Richard Hawley.)











Add a Comment
Comment posted by Dorrie on 01/19/2010

Dear Anya,

Thank you for all these beautiful thoughts on a winter's day. I love the story of the old farmer, and I love the quotes from Rumi, of course. Love Dorrie

Comment posted by Michael P Crain on 02/19/2010

My tired soul is looking forward to a shared, waking moment, on Sunday. I like maybe yes, maybe no as nothing has gone as I expected, yet hope endures and I look forward to the bright light of my path.

(note: reference to "Remind Me Of What I Loved" Retreat Writing Workshop on 02/21/10)

Comment posted by Terry Corbin on 02/19/2010

Hi Everyone,

I am looking forward to our day together on Sunday.  A time to rest in our souls. My offering for your enjoyment is a poem by Wendell Berry.  See you soon, Terry

The Peace of Wild Things When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.  I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.  And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.  For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free. - Wendell Berry -

(note: reference to "Remind Me Of What I Loved" Retreat Writing Workshop on 02/21/10)