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27 June 2007 @ 04:04 pm
Enough words?  
I've had a project going for a while now to index my journals. I've got so many of them lying around with more always in the making, and I'd like to begin stepping back to see any patterns that might emerge in my writing. A few days ago, I finished indexing the journal I kept from 8/26/05 through 2/22/06. Of the 43 entries I made during those months, one seems quite different from the rest.  It strikes me as a mysterious piece of writing, a sort of prose poem written in response to discovering that Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan had died in June of 2004. In 1980 or thereabouts, I attended a one-day retreat given by Pir Vilayat in a Washington, D.C. suburb. The presence and wisdom of this Sufi master touched me deeply and left an indelible impression in my heart. I will never forget him.

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up...

But that shadow has been serving you!
What hurts you, blesses you.
Darkness is your candle,
Your boundaries are your quest.

I can explain this, but it would break
the glass cover on your heart,
and there's no fixing that.

You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

     --- from "Enough Words?" by Rumi, 13th century Sufi, mystic, and poet (translated by Coleman Barks)


How do I move beyond sadness, to another corridor of awareness? My heart is in a thousand pieces. I gather them up in a piece of cloth and take them to you, a great enlightened being. I spread them out on the table. I sit before them with you and tell you that these shards of glass are my heart. Can you help me put them back together? I want to free myself from this ocean of sadness, find a shore and swim to it, and rest there for a long time. I need to put my heart back together or I will be lost in this sea forever. One day I will grow too tired to swim any farther and will simply drown. Please, can you help me to put my heart back together?

You rise from the table and return with a mortar and pestle. You tell me to put all the shards into the large receptacle and to grind them into a fine powder. I do it; putting them back together would be impossible. I lift the cloth and empty them into the bowl. I cannot touch them -- so many sharp edges and points would cut my fingers to ribbons. I grind and grind and grind. I pulverize the pieces of my heart into a fine glistening powder. You sit silently as I do it. You never leave me. When I cannot grind any longer, I put down the pestle. My heart is a heap of shining dust. I look deeply into the bowl without regret. It is still my heart I see there.

You say we must go for a walk to spread the powder here and there. You tell me to take the bowl. We leave your house and go out into the night. Now we are walking; now we are flying over the ocean with our own bodies. You give me a spoon to scoop out the dust. I throw it over the places we walk; I throw it over the water. I scoop and scoop and scoop. There is so much of it, so much shimmering heart dust. It flies everywhere. After a while, the bowl is empty. I feel transparent, unreal. My heart is gone -- I have spread it everywhere. I have given it away. How will I live without it?

You ask me to return to your house with you. We arrive there and you enter. You turn to me and gaze at me. Your dark eyes touch mine and hold them in an embrace of boundless love. You back away from me slowly into the shadows of your home. I move toward you but you back away more and dissolve into the darkness. "Pir Vilayat? Pir Vilayat? Are you still here? Where have you gone?" I find a light switch. The room comes into view. It is empty. I move toward the table and see the cloth I used to carry the shards of my heart. I place the mortar on the table beside its pestle and take the cloth into my hands. On the wall behind the table, I see a picture I hadn't noticed before. It is a picture of you with your thick white hair, your long white beard, and your dark, bushy eyebrows planted above those loving, piecing eyes of yours. In text below the photograph, I discover that you died in June of 2004. You have been gone a year and a half.

I sit down at the table and look upon your face for a long while. The silence in your house is absolute.  The bowl is empty and I am alone with your picture in my eyes and the cloth that held my broken heart in my hands. I listen as deeply and intently as I can. The stillness of the moment surpasses language and my heart is everywhere.
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