Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Aaah . . . May 28, 2009

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A friend of mine posted a quote from my dear favorite Hāfez this morning: “There are so many gifts still unopened from your birthday.” I realized it doesn’t matter what he’s saying, it just makes my whole being open up, relax, and let go. I was moved to seek out inspiration from another Sufi this morning, Rumi. After a few minutes of surrendering to the perspectives of these beautiful mystics, I felt the challenges of this week fall off of me.

One of the biggest challenges for me this week has been shaking off some of the recent decisions made by this lovely state that I live in, California. First, there was the news that Prop. 8 (banning gay marriage) was being upheld, followed quickly by the governor’s latest budget recommendation that includes, amongst other gems, cutting so much revenue to our state parks that 80% of them would have to close. After moving through my intial feelings of disappointment and frustration, I was able to find peace in the reminder that times of great change are often accompanied by chaos as the smallness and limiting beliefs created by fear are ultimately dissipated by the expansive, creative, loving energy of our ongoing growth. This snippet of Rumi’s wisdom seemed especially appropriate to me this morning:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

From: The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks

Here are a couple of other treasures from the realm of Rumi’s wisdom. I hope that they have a similar opening, expansive, releasing feeling for you today, and that your being can relax into the Aaah . . . . Namaste.

Moving Water
~ by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.

When actions come from another section, the feeling
disappears. Don’t let

others lead you. They may be blind or, worse, vultures.
Reach for the rope

of God. And what is that? Putting aside self-will.
Because of willfulness

people sit in jail, the trapped bird’s wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness. You’ve seen a magistrate
inflict visible punishment. Now

see the invisible. If you could leave your selfishness, you
would see how you’ve

been torturing your soul. We are born and live inside black water in a well.

How could we know what an open field of sunlight is? Don’t
insist on going where

you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring. Your
living pieces will form

a harmony. There is a moving palace that floats in the air
with balconies and clear

water flowing through, infinity everywhere, yet contained
under a single tent.

From: The Glance

This We Have Now
~ by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From: The Essential Rumi

Photo: “Sunset gateway,” originally uploaded by Mirko Macari

 

Hāfez quote May 15, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth “you owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that–it lights the whole world.

~ Hāfez

 

The love of Hāfez

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This morning I’m feeling oddly peaceful. This week has been a gentler roller coaster, full of subtle ups and downs. I’ve woken up most mornings after semi-sleepless nights feeling angsty with my mind on overload, but even after another rough night of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling mostly empty and peaceful. It seemed like a good morning to fill up the empty vessel that is me with the love and connection that Hāfez offers. He is, as always, a breath of fresh air that sings to my soul. Enjoy.

The Only One
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

From man’s perspective
In this intricate game of love,

It is so easy to become confused
And think you are the do-er.

But from God’s Infinite Certainty,
He always Knows

That He is the only One
Who should ever be put on trial.

From: I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz

In a Handful of God
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Poetry reveals that there is no empty space.

When your truth forsakes its shyness,
When your fears surrender to your strengths,
You will begin to experience

That all existence
Is a teeming sea of infinite life.

In a handful of ocean water
You could not count all the finely tuned
Musicians

Who are acting stoned
For very intelligent and sane reasons

And of course are becoming extremely sweet
And wild.

In a handful of the sky and earth,
In a handful of God,

We cannot count
All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there
Behind the mysterious veil.

True art reveals there is no void
Or darkness.

There is no loneliness to the clear-eyed mystic
In this luminous, brimming
Playful world.

From: The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz

My Brilliant Image
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

One day the sun admitted,

I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence (Tej)

That has cast my brilliant image!

I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,

The astonishing Light

Of your own Being!

From: I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz

Photo: “Dancing on a volcano,” originally uploaded by Amir Kuckovic

 

Rumi quote April 3, 2009

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Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

~ Rumi

 

In Blackwater Woods

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 1:47 pm
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The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. The highs have been fantastic and have been wrapped up mostly in the baby who is now doing somersaults in my belly. I’ve started prenatal yoga, and this small step of self-nurture has been absolutely golden, completely necessary and fulfilling, and yet another beautiful way for me to connect with baby. We had an incredibly productive day last weekend where we unpacked enough of the right stuff to finally feel like we truly live here. Now all of my inspirational books have been moved onto a new bookcase in the bedroom, the beginnings of a new reading nook we’re creating in there. It all feels so good.

The lows have surrounded love and loss and probably a fair amount of nostalgia. I went to visit my family in Georgia and spent a couple of days with my grandparents on my mother’s side. They spend their days remembering how things used to be, resisting the way things are now, and are slowly slipping away into Alzheimer’s and senility. My last few visits, I’ve been highly conscious of how this may be the last, and so I try to soak up as much as I can while I am there, but it is easy to slip into a place of nostalgia, of remembering the good ol’ days through the rosy veil that memory provides. Home again, I find my uncle scanning in old pics of my father’s family, including some true gems of my early days with my grandfather, who made his transition several years ago now. The pictures make me smile, but also bring tears to my eyes as I remember just how much I miss him.

Life truly is a cycle, and these past couple of weeks have been full of the reminder that this new life in my belly in some respects replaces life that has come before. Individuals ebb and flow into our lives, and we are truly blessed to be touched by so many. Now that my books have been freed from their two-month bondage in boxes, I was pleased to be able to pull Risking Everything back off the shelf and uncover a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver that connects with the feelings tumbling around within me. Her words remind me of the power of love in this ephemeral world. Enjoy, and namaste.

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Photo: “1930’s postcards- in sepia,” originally uploaded by aussiegall

 

Sister Helen Prejean quote February 13, 2009

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Lavish [love] on others, receive it gratefully when it come to you. Cultivate friendship like a garden. It is the best love of all.

~Sister Helen Prejean

 

A new kind of love

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 3:26 pm
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If you were a regular reader in 2008, you may wonder where I’ve been the past couple of months. I am now catching my breath enough (or for a moment) to update you on the transition that is taking place in my life. It seems appropriate with Valentine’s Day tomorrow to talk about the new love that has come into my life — or really, I should say our lives, because this affects my husband, my family, on outward. We are all blossoming with the new love we feel for the baby we’re due to have this summer.

It’s been an interesting journey the past couple of months. I helped my mother move from Connecticut to California, I found out I was pregnant, my body adjusted to being shared with another life (well, I should say is continually adjusting), I started a new job, and now we’re in the process of moving homes. There has been a part of me that has felt I should (ahem) be able to keep doing all of the things I had already been doing and yet still handle all of these new changes with relative ease. The trick has been to let the rest of me take over, the part that knows that I have to take every day as it comes, ask for help more than I ever have before, make taking care of myself my number one priority, stay in the present moment, and remember that it is what it is. While this way of thinking and living was always my goal, it has been elevated to the only way to think and live due to the circumstances. Much like the concussion I experienced last year, it seems like a gift, a way to get a perspective change because you have to, not just because you know it’s the right thing to do.

As much as this feels like a physical journey, I am constantly reminded by how much of a spiritual journey it is. Even before I began walking down the path towards motherhood, I knew that 2009 was going to be the year of the divine feminine for me. Now I see just how true that is as I take on a new facet of that energy, the mother energy. I used to see motherhood as an end to, or at least a temporary derailment from, the spiritual path I have been on, but now I see that it is as much a fabric of that path as anything else I have endeavored in the past 20 years. Not only do I learn more about myself and my relationship to the universe every day, but I am learning about this little soul that is coming into the world. I have been brought in contact with a pure spirit, not yet immersed in the material plane, still aware of the universal big picture, still a being of pure love, still excited about the prospect of exploration and expansion that a life on earth will bring. It leaves me excited about my own exploration and expansion, and how this new experience will only widen my perspective and give me even more opportunity to grow and to learn and to share my gifts.

The world around us appears to be in chaos, but now more than I ever I feel removed from that chaos and connected only to the divine order that is being revealed. I know part of that is because my life is being expanded in so many ways right now that it makes it hard for me to see the limitation that the media is harping on. At the root of all of this is the deep love that I feel for myself, for my husband, for my family, and the new spirit coming into our lives. Love always expands, never contracts, and our universe is built on love. Bask in that feeling of expansion this Valentine’s Day weekend and see if you can bring it into other aspects of your life as well. This is the true reality of our lives, and the more you experience it, the more you see it in your own life, the more this truth will be revealed to the world at large. Namaste.

Photo: “New life is coming,” originally uploaded by marcusrg