'A Glorious Fall Morning... in Massachusetts'
This writing shares an experience from a two-week silence at Woolman Hill, a Quaker retreat site, Deerfield, MA. The first-person is avoided to deemphasize it as this writer's experience. Hopefully, the reader will read it as an invitation for it to be his or her and our experience. Thank You!
Yunus Emre (1238–1328), Sufi poet -
Let us master this science and read this book of love.
God instructs; Love is His school.
*Kabir Helminski. The Knowing Heart.
Love joyfully celebrates truth, and she finds no pleasure in what is wrong. Love is a safe shelter for anyone, for she patiently expects the best, never accepts defeat, and never gives up.
*I Corinthians 13.6-7
* * *
It was at night, midway the silent retreat of two weeks. This one had been reading. He decided to wait to see how he might receive inner guidance to buy a book. From first seeing this work recommended to him, he felt drawn to it. It was of a Sufi's life and writings, a man unknown to him. The Sufi left the body in the mid-last-century. Before retiring to bed, he looked up photos of the man and sought to find, without success, a book he had published.
That night, a dream appeared with this Sufi in it. In the dream, the Sufi had had opposition and meanness around him - which was true of the nondream Sufi's life. He had endured opposition from other Sufis and had a terrible childhood and youth, and was sorely mistreated by his brother in his adult years. One matter of hurt from his past was his father believed him to have been the child of another man. So, for some twenty-five years, the father and mother never spoke to each other, communicating only through the two boys.
In the dream, this Sufi wished for those around him to be more loving, more kind. Over time, all changed about him. Loving beings surrounded him. Even more, the big surprise was how he had changed, too. He had been a man of love; yet, he had become more a loving being.
The following morning, this one awoke with a vivid recall of the dream. He knew it to be a nocturnal revelation - the immediate giving of a song confirmed the dream as a revelation. The song was from his teenage years, and the lyrics began moving through the mind with accompanying music. The tune did not appear to relate to the dream; yet, it was received as a message given, one needing prayerful discernment. This discernment would need to be applied to the dream.
* * *
While we may see ourselves to be loving beings, we can grow to be more loving. As far as we know, we can grow infinitely in Love. One of the exciting things about the devotional path is the focus is Love and our growing into the likeness of Love.
The Sufi, Kabir Helminski, in The Knowing Heart, says, "We have all been failures in love." He means not we are love failures; instead, we have not loved completely, always. He spins this positively for us: "This is our conscious starting point." Through honesty about our not loving wholly, we aspire to grow in Love and the skill to act lovingly. So, we do not have to feel like a love failure; we can see Love is expressing Itself more and more fully through us.
We all have something in the way of our loving everyone wholly and expressing love fully always. To be aware of this is not bad news, but it is humbling news. So, seeing we can become more loving, this is an excellent beginning to becoming more loving.
Later in the Sufi's life, he experienced the love from others for which he had long ached. He became surrounded by it. Likewise, we who have suffered much from unkindness do not have to settle on that being our future. And, too, as we become more proactive in showing love, even to those who are unkind, thoughtless beings, we will see more love about us. Kindness begets kindness. Anyway, we see more love about us when we stop focusing on the unlove about us. Why stare into the darkness when you can gaze upon the Light? As we become more gracious, we see more graciousness. Indeed, likely there have always been more loving beings around us than we recognized to be.
* * *
Yes, we have all been hurt, and we may be hurt more. Persons have wounded many of us in our past, some of us deeply so. Yet, now is now, not then. We do not have to allow the past wounds to define us or our present or future. We can welcome pasts unkindnesses to be the fertile soil to grow a lovely garden of Compassion. Our wounds can become, rather than something for us to mourn all our lives, a cause to urge us to act unlike those who hurt us. If you met the meanest possible person, that could inspire you to be as unlike that person as possible. Our wounds can become Messengers of Peace. Love now frees us from resentment lingering from the past.
We, likewise, do not have to settle for the hurtful relationships of our past, repeating the same choices. We can link our lives with persons who value us, love us, and share mutual-kindness with us. Likewise, we can forgive those who have hurt us, and we can wish for their healing in the Light, even as we continue to receive the healing. As we do this, persons are attracted to us, for they trust something within us even if not knowing they are and what it is.
Still, persons who are not ready to welcome the love within you may not wish to relate closely with you. They may avoid you. That is okay; that is not your problem. Love those who welcome you to love them. Do not waste energy trying to share closeness with those who turn from your kindness.
* * *
We live in a crucial, difficult time in the history of our world. In my own country, messages of hatefulness and harshness bombard us. We see persons opposing equal rights for all, including the gunning down of persons of color. We note the caging of children of immigrants and without the government being able to find now the parents of many of them. We witness the public parading of white supremacism. We observe rich politicians who act like selfish, spoilt children, more interested in money and power than the good of the people - serving themselves first, not the citizenship. It seems the media, left and right, cherish every opportunity to present to us a cause for fear. Bad news has become the norm, and not for there is little good news.
Yet, now, too, is an auspicious time to choose love, to be gracious, and to have faith in the best within humanity. Love shines more brightly when the Light is contrasted with the darkness. The darker the darkness, the more the Light is seen to be the Light. We can say "No" to the dark, remembering there is nothing more powerful than Love, and nothing can vanquish the Light aglow within us. And that is where we need to go first - to the inner sanctuary, the Sanctum of Love - the heart.
* * *
This writer has often felt grateful to those who opposed him in the past. Being a progressive thinker and spiritual contemplative, for example, led to much opposition when he served as a professor and, later, a pastor. Yet, he decided not to allow what had happened to define his person or future. He welcomed the hurt to transform into a passion for loving others and serving them in compassion. He chose to become a kinder being by taking accountability when he failed to be that kind of man. He could not change the adverse treatment enacted against him; he could not magically make the hurt go away. However, he knew Grace could transform the deep pain into the beauty of Life. It did, it continues to, for Love's growth is a constant on the Way. He is not an expert in the School of Love; he remains a learner, even a beginner - we all do.
* * *
Love responds to our "Yes" with Its "Yes." So, we do not fight the darkness; we devote ourselves to the Light. We will see the power of Light as never before, for we will see Love as we have never seen it before - we do, if we have "eyes" to "see." Love is all around us, already. Remember, the past does not define us. Instead, for lovers, intoxicated on the Wine of Life, Love is our glory, our hope, and our destiny. Love is becoming Love through Lovers everywhere. On Earth, now, is this great and diverse array of Lovers. Yes, this is a Time of Love.
Peace to All!
* * *
*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on mystical traditions, especially Christian and Sufi, with extensive notes on the teachings and imagery in the poetry.