Where Everything is Music

This week I have struggled a little bit with some of the Rumi that I’ve read. Here are a range of my journal notes: Reading Rumi’s poems, I wonder what it must have been like for him to try to portray through his words what his revelations were. How do you describe the sky to a blind person? It’s always there but it has it’s moods and is always changing. Even in the moment of describing the sky it may change before your eyes. On another day I wrote: I think Rumi is telling us we try too hard. Even if we do nothing we will reap the rewards of the harvest. And one day I questioned who actually wrote the poem (Only Breath) or who was it who inspired Rumi to write the words he did?

Today “Where Everything is Music” resonates with me. In 2015, as an adult with no musical background, I decided to learn to play cello.(Seen in the above photo!) I have loved every minute of the journey. It has been challenging for sure but it has opened my eyes to a world I had been on the periphery of before. I feel I have “opened a window” as Rumi suggests in his final stanza of this poem.

“We have fallen into the place

where everything is music.

Stop the words now.

Open the window in the center of your chest,

and let the spirits fly in and out.” ~ Rumi

Rumi compares love, his passion for life and living, to the intoxicating effect of music, with its enlivening effect on the soul.

Throughout the day today I see references to Bach and to Nietzsche, “Without music life would be a mistake.” Reminders of Rumi’s words are everywhere. A quote from Virginia Woolf falls open, “That is the quality which dance music has – no other: it stirs some barbaric instinct – lulled asleep in our sober lives – you forget centuries of civilization in a second and yield to that strange passion which sends you whirling round the room – oblivious of everything save that you must keep swaying with the music -” I listen to my favorite songs and I know that Rumi’s assessment of music will resonate with many!

The Reed Flute’s Song

“Language and music are possible only because we’re empty, hollow, and separated from the source. All language is a longing for home.” ~ Coleman Barks

The Reed Flute’s Song

Stay where you are

inside such a pure, hollow note. ~ Rumi

The last few years, perhaps because of Covid and the enforced isolation, each time I say good-bye when family leaves after a visit, I am filled with sadness. The scale of the sadness is in direct proportion to the joy I just shared while we were visiting. There are no words to convey the depth of my feeling. There are no words to hold all the love I wish to pour onto my loved ones. Although I have just spent a wonderful afternoon or evening with my children, or siblings, or cousins, I immediately long for more time with them once the door is closed and they are on their way. Is this even close to the longing Rumi is expressing?

Big Bad Wolf In The Mirror

It’s impossible to not feel something watching the marches and protests that are continuing throughout the United States, Canada and around the world. Some of the feelings are difficult to name and sit with. As a white, middle class female I have lived a relatively privileged life. It’s difficult to face how insidious racism is in our society and accept how unconsciously I may have been contributing to it. George Floyd’s death has ripped open a scar that will never be the same. The bleeding may stop but the wound can either heal or the infection become worse. I am asking myself, how can I, right now, look deeply at any way I can add love and compassion to question long held beliefs so that I may contribute to healing.

When did we become our own worst enemy.
Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes -
they're practically Canadian.
A border and a name is not enough to claim
we are any different.
When did we buy into the lie
our leaders would have us believe
that they are looking out for our best interest.

An egg placed in hot water
becomes soft cooked after three minutes,
hard boiled after twelve,
after that shells may crack.
Gunshot explosions
when the pot boils dry
have us diving for cover.
Yolk sticks to the stipple
like only something contained 
and under pressure, can.

The world placed in a cell phone lens
becomes agitated in eight seconds,
the time it takes 
to form a first impression.
After eight minutes and forty-six seconds
it boils over, multiple "moments of truth"
crack
a two-hundred year old shell,
a police car, a parking space, a man's face
on the asphalt
When did a plea for mercy
become something to taunt,
a knee on a neck, an eye turned away

I have to remind myself to not look away,
to feel the discomfort, to see the obstacles,
see how we use our language,
the toys we give our children,
the messages in their spaces of learning,
Barbie and Ken in their Malibu home,
masculine control of naming and explaining.
What can we learn from Black Americans,
from people of color, 
how they inhabit their bodies
how they live in the world.

I have to remind myself to not look away.
The message sticks
like only something contained 
and under pressure,
can.

A Couple Of Things They Don’t Tell You

Here are a couple of things they don’t tell you about sheltering in place. They don’t tell you how one day will blend into another, how you will have to look at your phone or computer calendar to know exactly what day of the week it is. You might rise earlier to catch the sun coming up or sleep later and wake with a dream chasing you into your day. They don’t tell you when you shelter in place how much you will miss your grown children – the ones you only saw once a week anyway but with the virus senses are heightened and each moment has an urgency to it. It feels like all the love you have must be funneled into this moment in case it passes and the opportunity isn’t here again.

When you shelter in place they don’t tell you how filled with emotion you will be when an ad hoc parade rolls down your street. How hearing horns honking will lift your head from the trowel in your flowerbed. How you will move to the front yard in time to see banners with the names of teachers, proclaiming how much they are loved and missed. Your hand will automatically go up to wave and tears will automatically fall for people you don’t know and for a mascot you don’t recognize but the outpouring of heartfelt sentiment is real and palpable. You see your neighbors, who have also come out onto the street, put their arms around each others shoulders. As the parade disappears everyone lingers, looks in the direction the parade has just gone, holding on to the love just a little longer. With a little wave, or half smile, people slowly walk back to what they were doing. They don’t tell you that when you are sheltering in place you will feel alone even among your neighbors.

Or how spending twenty-four/seven with your husband, the man you love, can feel like a little too much time together. How you have no doubt you want to be together but even in this time of sheltering and craving time with others, you still need time to be alone, to be still with your thoughts, to just breathe.

They don’t tell you how the joy and beauty of seeing your friends on Zoom can quickly swing to heartbreak when you realize how long it has been since you’ve hugged any of them. No one tells you how difficult it is to perform for your friends, cello notes ringing loud and clear… you see their faces but can’t make eye contact, and you see their hands are clapping but you can’t hear the applause. No one tells you when you shelter in place how much you will miss the subtleties of human contact, the shift in posture you read in a conversation, the slight inflections in one’s speech, the things lost with the delay of video links. No one tells you that playing bridge, a game you love, will become just a game. What you really loved was the analysis of the play of the hand afterward, the laughter, the teasing, the small talk. Typing in a chat box doesn’t compare. Nothing can replace the feeling of security and realness of gathering in the same room – even if all you do is smile and let the energy of their being wash over you. I can’t wait to be drenched.

Heartshaped Tears

Each day as the numbers rise, the lump in my throat grows larger as I am reminded that they are more than just numbers. Someone is losing a loved one. Someone is worried they will lose a loved one. Someone is feeling cut-off and alone, like there may be no way out. I feel helpless and the tears cannot be held back. I shed tears filled with love because love is one thing that has not been stopped when the brakes were put on the world as we knew it.

I am posting the link to two songs that I feel offer hope and peace. I send love to you, my fellow readers.

You’re Gonna Be Okay by Brian & Jenn Johnson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjF9IqvXDjY

Be Still My Soul by Kari Jobe