Sufism

Then, now … and all along

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” – Rumi

Dust rises up from my tires in the rear-view mirror. Ahead, a hazy mirage unfolds, the air heavy with distilled time, which shifts the desert landscape like ripples. Horizontal emptiness, sand and shrubbery stretch out as far as the eye can see. Not a road sign anywhere. I know I’m on route 1258 and that it’s supposed to connect to 655, but an eternity has passed without any intersection. I stop and put the car in park so I can look at my map. The letters and numbers have shrunk, becoming too small for me to read. I bring the map closer to my face to examine it. And then I hear his voice, saying, give me the map. Suddenly he’s in the passenger seat next to me. I hand him the map, timidly, and he rolls down the window and flings it out. I want to protest but all that comes out is a half-audible whimper, I’m lost. He says, lost is just an interpretation. Let your eyes and ears flow into the vastness of the desert, marvel at the trees with the green, pointed spikes that look like they fell down from the moon. Enjoy the intimacy of a moment that will never come again. You’ll get to your destination, eventually. Maybe even sooner than you think. (more…)

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Woman, I bow to you

I walked into the basement of an old house, which suddenly transformed into an attic room with a skylight looking out into the universe. I opened the window and climbed out to the roof. There was a metal staircase leading upwards into the stars. After I reached the 10th step, the staircase disappeared under my feet, but I continued to climb, jumping on purple clouds interspersed between the stars. I saw a white, glowing doorway without a door. When I stepped through the treshold to the other side I found myself in an emerald green forest. I heard the sound of a waterfall in the distance, and birds singing all around me. I realized my back was hunched over because I was carrying a heavy bag on my back, a brown burlap sack, like I imagine travelers might have had centuries ago. I walked along a path and came to a crossroad where I saw an old man with long silvery hair and a golden crown. He said, I will take your burden. I told him I didn’t have any burdens. He asked me to remove what was in my burlap sack. I opened it and saw it was a kind of crystal ball – or more like a plastic ball with snowflakes one finds in souvenir shops – in which a film was playing. Actually it was a music video of a Moldovan ballad* I recognized, sung by a type of Robin Hood outlaw (called “Haiduc” in folk stories), pledging his heart and inordinate reverence to a young peasant girl wearing a crown of flowers, who made rivers flow and blades of wheat grow wherever her feet touched the ground. A semi-modern version of an archaic fairy tale, which I found poetic and beautiful. The king said, let it go, and held his hand out for the crystal ball. And something in me cringed, I didn’t want to give it away, it was part of me, and I wanted to carry it even if it was preventing me from walking upright. The king put together some branches and lit a fire by touching them with his finger. He asked me for the ball again, which I reluctantly handed over, and threw it into the fire. It began to melt like the liquid mercury of a thermometer, seeping out in grayish puddles over the ground. He then blew the fire out and walked away with my empty sack, leaving me alone in the forest. (more…)