“I said: What about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: Pain and sorrow?
He said: …Stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
I actually started writing something else. I got a few paragraphs into it. It didn’t feel quite right for no particular reason. I started thinking about writing something else that felt a little better but still couldn’t quite get started on it.
Then, things happened. Horrible things. As a nation and as a world, we are reeling from what happened in Orlando. That goes without saying. I don’t have anything fresh to say about how awful it is. You know for yourself.
As always, I turn to the words of my beloved Rumi when I am dealing with something difficult to bear. This was no different. Mercifully, I didn’t have to go searching for it, it came to me. Days before even. At almost every turn. It popped into my head. It showed up in several social media feeds. You name it. It was everywhere. (message coming through!)
A few days ago, I was having a particularly difficult up-down day, emotionally speaking. This was prior to the shooting in Orlando. I was feeling generally grumpy and not optimistic, which has not really been the norm for me for some time. So, I sat. (for those unfamiliar with meditation, practitioners often call it “sitting”) I went to the cushion and I sat.
I’ve spoken before about so-called “epiphanies” during meditation, where an idea or phrase just drops into my mind with no genesis in my own thoughts (or lack thereof when I’m truly lucky). This was one of those lucky times. It had been a cloudy day all day, as has been the case a lot lately. (I know, I know. PacNW…rain…blah blah blah.) I was about 10 to 15 minutes into this meditation when the sun came out and hit my closed eyelids directly through the skylight. My first reaction was to wince. That was when I heard it:
“Let the light in.”
Now, these are not literal voices, to be clear. So, don’t worry about me just yet. There’ll be plenty of time for that later. 😉
Let the light in.
I realized that I was so focused on what was not going well for me, or appeared not to be going at all, that I was failing to let the light in. I literally winced when the light first hit my eyes. The beautiful sun, coming at me through my lovely skylight, during a serene meditation session, in my new home. The new home I have been wanting for years. The sunshine I crave daily. The serenity that sustains me.
Sure it was a natural physiological response. I’m not shaming myself for it. I am observing it though.
Shortly thereafter is when the aforementioned Rumi quote started coming out of the wood-works at me. I even saved one version of it with the caption, “let the light in” to remind myself of that meditation session.
I had no idea what was coming. I had no idea how much this quote would soon mean to me.
The events in Orlando are unspeakable. More unspeakable than other horrors? No. They don’t need to be more or less. This post is not about what makes it the same or different, or even to get into what causes these things and what doesn’t. To that point I will only say that if we don’t learn to talk to each other and listen to each other and stop listening to the dividers, we’re never going to get anywhere.
I have seen a wide-ranging response to this tragedy. Yes, there have been the crazies. There will always be the crazies. (not using the word clinically.) I have seen a largely positive reaction, with some anger and outrage thrown in as well. All understandable and generally appropriate. Fitting even.
I have those same feelings of despair and anger and outrage, the same as anyone else.
But I can’t stay there. I just can’t.
If I’m being honest, it doesn’t really seem to serve anyone. Nonetheless, if that is where you find yourself, I won’t turn away from your pain or anger. I can bear witness to it while letting the light in for myself and others.
Is Rumi being trite and saying just rush with both feet through all of those negative feelings toward the light? If you know anything about Rumi, you know he is definitely not advocating that. Is he asking us to be grateful for our wounds, for such tragedies in particular? A closer approximation, but probably not that exactly either.
There are quatrains in which he does offer gratitude when dealing with difficulties, but certainly one as sensitive as Rumi would have known the subtleties that make gratitude appropriate in one case are not so with another, such as this. So no, I don’t think this particular verse is about being grateful for tragedy. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would expect any of us to feel grateful right now. I know I don’t expect that.
What I get out of this is simply that wounds happen. They cannot be avoided. The sorrow they cause cannot be sidestepped. Sooner or later we will face tragedy or disappointment or anger or despair. No matter how grateful we are. It is a facet of life.
I would add I don’t think this is about a lesson either. More on that later, but the more I learn, listen, and feel, the less I think anything in life is about lessons and more about experiences. But that’s another post for another day!
What I see this particular poem pointing to is the light that comes in after a tragedy. You know it. You see it. You’ve probably even been it. Heck, you’re probably doing it right now.
The wound *is* the place where the light enters us. The wound cracks open our humanity and stops time for a moment. A heart-wrenching, unspeakable, air-sucking vacuum of a moment. Then a shift happens…
In rush the light-bringers…
The first responders.
The other survivors helping each other.
The people calling 9-1-1.
The dispatchers sending help and calming the callers or giving them instructions to save a life.
The bystanders helping to move people to safety.
The nurses, the doctors, the chaplains, you name it.
Orlando saw blood donor lines miles long in the hot Florida sun and air as thick as soup. (trust me on that.) All within a few short hours.
I know some feel it’s too soon to focus on the light, but I could not disagree more. It’s never too soon for that in my opinion. It’s okay to feel your anger, despair, and pain. However, be sure to look into the eyes of the ones who have come to help. The ones who want to help.
The light is there if you look, really look.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
Let the light in.
Love and so very much light,
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Dennis W. Donohue