Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Monday, August 17, 2015

I Only Know What's Not Here

Rumi, the great 13th Century poet, scholar, mystic from Persia wrote

I start out on this road,
call it love or emptiness.
I only know what's not here. 
Resentment seeds, backscratching greed,
worrying about outcome, fear of people.
When a bird gets free,
it does not go back for remnants
left on the bottom of the cage.
Close by, I'm rain. Far off,
a cloud of fire. I seem restless,
but I am deeply at ease.
Branches tremble. The roots are still.
I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished.
Talk about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,
I am somewhere lost in the wind.

Most of us have experienced the feeling of purpose, of what calls us into being, of what drives us forward. In many cases, this is intimately tied to job searches or career objectives. To some of us, it leads to perhaps an existential crisis or an exploration of spirituality.

I might not have understood this poem a decade ago. Perhaps after I separated from a partner of almost two decades, I might have understood the feeling of being lost in the wind. But what strikes me about this poem is that it finds meaning in nothing, in what's not here.

Only when demolished am I whole.

It's a reversal of conventional wisdom. How can you be whole when you've been destroyed? But that's what my journey is currently showing me. In breaking apart the edifice that I've built up about myself for the past several decades, in destroying the mirage of seeming successes, I'm discovering within the void is the road to love. Or emptiness.

I've included a photo of my visit to Yosemite Valley earlier this month. It's a gorgeous vista that was once at ground level. A river did not excavate this valley. Instead an enormous glacier once covered the land. As the glacier withdrew, it carved out the sheer, vertical cliff of El Capitan, the striking Half Dome, and numerous meandering valleys of drama. And what makes Yosemite so interesting? It's the void, the emptiness left by the once omnipresent and destructive glacier. From that destruction and withdrawal, a beauty arose.

Love and emptiness, wholeness and demolition. I allow myself to be lifted in the wind, seemingly lost in nothingness but always held aloft in love.

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