90 Times: Mystic Matters
In Memory of Jayland Walker
Hello Gentle Readers,
Rumi, the mystic poet, teaches, “Wherever you stand, be the Soul of that place.”
What is “the soul”?
Hafiz, Persian poet, writes,
The Place Where You Are Now
This place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
Wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
Against the earth and the sky,
The Beloved has bowed there –
Our Beloved has bowed there knowing
You were coming.
I could tell you a priceless secret about
Your real worth, dear pilgrim,
But any unkindness to yourself,
Any confusion about others,
Will keep one
From accepting the grace, the love,
The sublime freedom
Divine knowledge always offers to you.
Never mind, Hafiz, about
The great requirements this path demands
Of the wayfarers,
For your soul is too full of wine tonight
To withhold the wondrous Truth from this world.
But because I am so clever and generous,
I have already clearly woven a resplendent lock
Of his tresses
As a remarkable truth and gift
In this poem for you.
Standing at the horizon is both an opportunity to witness a gorgeous rising or setting of the sun as well as observe that capturing the horizon is rather an illusion a magician like Houdini might invent.
Both Rumi and Hafiz seem to suggest that humans are divine beings like the Beloved or Creator or God or Universe.
Rumi suggests we be the soul song or essence of where we live. Hafiz explains that we are exactly where the Creator wants us to be as if we are existing exactly where we are meant to breathe each breath.
Where do you stand on the map of your community? How are you celebrating your soul and giving to your neighborhood?
I read poetry every morning. Well, almost every morning. Rumi and Hafiz nourish my mind and enlighten my soul. I spend a great deal of time in solitude. Solitude is sacred to me. It doesn’t always come easy but I have discovered a great inner peace in the midst of daily violence on planet earth.
When I was young, I practiced art. I loved to draw, paint, write poetry and short stories, play music, sing, invent dance moves, take photos, bake, and cook. I still use these practices as an adult.
I am thankful for my genuine curiosity and desire to learn.
Today I felt stuck. Stuck in the muck of world events and especially the tragic shooting of 24 year old Jayland Walker shot 90 times during a “routine traffic stop.”
The sheer brutality of violence against another human being is a gut punch.
I have no language for this kind of brutality. And yet, I know we can do better. We must do better.
90 times. Sit with that for a few minutes.
Why didn’t Jayland’s killers recognize him as a Divine gift? Did they even pause to ponder what if he was my son? My brother? My cousin? My neighbor? What kind of rage is behind such violence? What do these armed marauders tell themselves after another senseless shooting? 90 times.
So many innocents have perished and I am not numb from it or accepting the status quo.
Poetry is not just walking barefoot through the Elysian Fields. It is an art. It exists on a spectrum of styles and word play. It often illuminates the dark as well as shows us the power of nature and the essence of humanity.
Poetry is universal. It is expansive like love or compassion. It is a language of teachers and students.
As I try to write through the muck, I am struck by the fact that violence is evidence that the structures of slavery and genocide are desperate and grasping to stay alive.
We are not meant to live this way. We are born as love. As luminous beings. As creators and artists. Scientists and explorers. Innovators and teachers. Makers all.
Writing about this is like standing in quicksand. Tears collecting at the corners of my eyes welling over and down my face in silent grief for Jayland and his Beloveds. His friends. His family. 24 years old. 90 times. Brutal.
We can go to the moon but we can’t seem to be able to exist in loving community with one another.
What if the officers had taken 90 seconds to pause?
we assume goodwill instead of acting out of fear?
What if we lead with our tender, powerful hearts instead of with deadly weapons?
How can we stand and “be the soul” of our shared community? Imagine that times 90.
Imagine 90 humans creating art 90 times
Imagine 90 neighbors feeding the senior who has no family left.
Imagine 90 paintings 90 poems. 90 shared meals. 90 games of soccer or pickle ball. 90 sunrises. 90 sunsets.
Rest in power. Rest In Peace, Jayland. We have failed you. We can do better.
Art credit: Franz Marc