Recent Posts







« | Main | »

Yahallelu, Alhamdulillah, etc.

By Billy | February 26, 2012

Oh, wide meadow, do you fear the reaper?
We who walk and run, we worry. From whom can we buy time?
Whence comes your endless love of reaching for the sun?
Teach us, I beg you, to honor the reaper
and the soil
and why you ever spring back.
And how (!)(?)

I found an old notebook — the one I carried with me everywhere for my junior year of college. OK so it’s not *that* old. Above is an updated rendition of a poem I found in one of the pages — hidden between notes for my Hinduisms class and my Gandhi and Global Nonviolence class.
The original version started as follows: “Oh! Grass, do you suffer as I do? Do you wince with every footfall?”
I don’t know exactly what was going through my head and heart at the time, but I can tell you what it wasn’t.


When I was in France, we had a week of bible discussion about Elijah. Elijah wasn’t, in my opinion, the best of prophets. He did a lot of improvisation that God hadn’t explicitly authorized, he was full of self pity, he exaggurated all of his problems, and apparently never doubted himself about these things — if anything, he doubted God when things weren’t going right. After a while, Elijah went to find some answers. He spends exactly one really long time in the desert (introspection) and then climbs up the mountains where it all started (meditation). On that mountain (in a state of meditation) Elijah meets God (). What happened was that a hurricane happened, and then a volcano, and an atomic bomb went off and all this crazy crap, but God was not in the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor the atomic bomb, nor any of the tremendous things, but at the end, there was a “still small voice” in which Elijah finally found God. (This is all in 1 Kings 19:11ish)
In our discussion groups afterwards, we started talking about when we hear God’s still small voice.

Oh, crap! I’ve never listened for God’s still small voice. As a mystic, I can’t believe that God is not in the earthquake or the napalm strikes, and in fact, the worst situations in my life are the ones through which I feel most closely connected to the divine. I realized during that first week in Taize that it’s been my habit for the last 8 years or more to listen to God in the storms, but hardly ever in the stillness.

; I’m talking about just hearing God in the simplest of joys.
So then I started worrying. I started to notice patterns in my life where I actively make things more difficult than necessary, specifically so that I experience God strengthening me and carrying me through situations I otherwise wouldn’t be able to handle. A little sparrow once told me that God’s love isn’t supposed to hurt, I didn’t know what she meant at the time. So my meditations and prayers became focused on this cycle I kept perpetuating: make choices that point me directly into a disaster area, survive by the skin of my teeth, acknowledge God’s presence in all things, start looking for the next disaster. Presently, I started feeling decently self-loathing about this habit. What can I do?
Then one of the monks read the Gospel. I think it was during prayers before lunch. The story was about a crippled guy who wanted Jesus to put him into some healing waters, because occasionally people were healed in the pool. Jesus just told the guy to get up and walk. As the monk read, Jesus stepped out of the grave, teleported straight over to me and spoke the words as the monk read them, “Stand up and walk.”
That was it. There is no other way to solve your problems — they don’t exist. Jesus is unity with the divine. It’s like God is a black hole, and Jesus is the point of no return, where not even light can escape from the pull of infinity, and by his very existence, BAM, we’re all sucked into the singularity. You are already a Buddha. Just stand up and walk, don’t bother even worrying about it. Don’t regret the time you wasted (hard to do…), just go forward. Stand up and walk.
I felt amazing things after that lunch. I tasted Joy for the first time in my life. I no longer let myself feel guilty for being joyful (Take THAT Catholic school), I no longer felt afraid to be happy. It’s difficult to maintain, and it’s easy to forget, but it comes down to a simple smile.

On that day, I took the restraints off my ability to feel joy. It started (quite tentatively) to grow, and send down deeper roots. I couldn’t stop crying about everything.

Shortly after that, I went into 4 days of silence. During that time, I spent my hours letting joy soak into my bones, for it had no where else to express itself. I think being alone helped me really make sure this new Joy thing doesn’t go away. It was so difficult, especially after the snow, to hold everything in all to myself. I realized in that time, that I can share Joy with its Source and it doesn’t have to be as paradoxical as it sounds.

When I wrote that poem above, I thought that the grass might lament its being trodden upon, eaten, and harvested. I thought these things were terrible. I thought I had to put myself into a life of being cut down and trampled on, and I thought that this was the only way to feel God. The word “honor” did not appear in the original poem, because there was no gratitude. I guess right now I’m ready to accept a purpose, I’m ready to accept that I can’t see the purpose so well, and I’m ready to accept that I am powerful and part of a mighty thing. It’s not all blue skies, but it’s all perfect — and I am ready to honor the storms, but not worship them.

Topics: This is my life | Comments Off on Yahallelu, Alhamdulillah, etc.

Comments are closed.