Is a golden gun.
It was not easy to hold it against my head
I needed great faith in my master
To suffocate myself
With his holy bag
Full of truth.
I needed great courage
To go out into the dark
Tracking God into the unknown
And not panic or get lost
In all the startling new scents, sounds,
Or lose my temper
Tripping on those scheming
Night and day around me.
Effacement is the emerald dagger
You need to plunge
Deep into yourself upon
This path to divine Recovery—
Upon this path
efface[ ih-feys ]
verb (used with object), ef·faced, ef·fac·ing.
to wipe out; do away with; expunge:
to efface one’s unhappy memories.
to rub out, erase, or obliterate (outlines, traces, inscriptions, etc.).
to make (oneself) inconspicuous; withdraw (oneself) modestly or shyly.
Ever So Dear Hafiz,
In principle I experience this experience you’ve opened up for us; however, as a creature of the twenty-first century and one schooled in psychology, I am compelled to qualify. For me, it is the unhealthy manifestations of ego that I seek to efface, not my Self, the deepest self where divinity makes its home, if I let it.
With that said, dear sage, I now offer a way beyond this pandemic surging through our world today. In spite of the attention many pay to the needs of the common good, this virus has also unleashed a dis-ease of the worst kind. It has loosened the already tentative grip we had on the virtue of selflessness. Ego selfishness gravely threatens body and soul.
So, yes, let us efface, I say. Let us efface selfishness and greed and take on the posture of a parent who would sacrifice anything for the good of their child. We are all one another’s child now. Let us walk this path to “Divine Recovery” together.
When I heard Li-Young Lee read this stunning love poem I instantly dissolved in tears. It’s depth took me to regions beyond human love to that intense longing for the beyond, the more, to the inscrutable mysteries of the universe where I have found the divine in my old age. I can hear it whispered by desert mothers and fathers in the caves of Cappadocia and encounter it wafting on the notes of Hildegard von Bingin’s ethereal chants. This is the stuff of mystics. Enjoy.
Weekend All Things Considered February 24 interviewed Li-Young Lee. (Listen here)
I Loved You before I Was Born
I loved you before I was born.
It doesn’t make sense, I know.
I saw your eyes before I had eyes to see.
And I’ve lived longing
for your every look ever since.
That longing entered time as this body.
And the longing grew as this body waxed.
And the longing grows as this body wanes.
That longing will outlive this body.
I loved you before I was born.
It makes no sense, I know.
Long before eternity, I caught a glimpse
of your neck and shoulders, your ankles and toes.
And I’ve been lonely for you from that instant.
That loneliness appeared on earth as this body.
And my share of time has been nothing
but your name outrunning my ever saying it clearly.
Your face fleeing my ever
kissing it firmly once on the mouth.
In longing, I am most myself, rapt,
my lamp mortal, my light hidden and singing.
I give you my blank heart.
Please write on it
what you wish.
Louise Penny writes a mystery series about a detective in a mythical village in Quebec called Three Pines. I love these books especially for the author’s keen insight into human nature and her prose which flows like poetry. A favorite from the series is The Beautiful Mystery, about a murder in a monastery set deep into the wilds of Canada. Although hidden away, the monks are renowned for their near perfect expression of Gregorian chant. The abbot says, “Each of us individual notes. On our own, nothing. But together? Divine. We don’t just sing, we are the song.” The narrator says, “Gamache wondered if an equally important part of a chant wasn’t just the notes, but the space between them. The silence…They had such a profound effect on those who sang and heard them that the ancient chants became known as “The Beautiful Mystery.”
Along with millions of others I recently viewed a photo on Facebook of a group of elderly women at La Vita Bella nursing home in Dickinson, Texas. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey they sat in water up to their waists waiting to be rescued. Not exactly the Beautiful Life they had expected. One resident did craft work, others just sat and waited. How does one keep one’s self stable and centered when fear stands watch outside the door threatening to knock it down? As I’ve continued to ask myself that this week a memory of another tragedy caught my attention.
September 11, 2001. An eerie, out-of-character silence had settled on my class of seventeen-year-olds as we waited for news of a sighted but now missing hijacked airplane. Two had already crashed into the twin towers. A wail shattered the silence, emitted from a slumped-over manchild. “Where is my brother? He isn’t answering his phone. WHERE IS MY BROTHER?” How does one keep one’s self stable and centered when fear stands watch outside the door threatening to knock it down?
One day at a time, one choice at a time. In another era we would have said one self-denial at a time. As a young nun in pre-Vatican II days I wore sacrifice beads and pulled one down with each denial. Please. Meister Eckhart fiercely condemns such practices as blocks to birthing the real God in our lives. I think we prepare for those times of no control with the practice of relinquishing control. By letting go of the need to control we become free and able to endure lack of control. We can let go of our need to have the last word, the most stunning idea, the brilliant psychoanalysis of our neighbor. By living outside of our egos we learn to live inside of ourselves where we are sparks of the divine. If we address the fear which stands outside our door from that place, we know how to wait for the rescue.
For the Women of La Vita Bella
Cold water rising
Strong women reap peace past sown
Fear flees in its wake
“This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”