I haven’t done a post about Sufi poetry for a while. I haven’t had anything especially interesting to say, perhaps, or maybe I just got a little tired and lost writing about myself. I’m inspired today to write about a couple of Hafez verses, however, in a large part because of recent late night discussions with Jaime.
I don’t know what other couples with kids do; it’s tough to make time to just hang out together the way you do before you have children. Jaime and I usually take a few hours after the kids go to sleep, sneak into their play room on the other end of the house, and talk. The past few weeks these discussions have become especially fruitful and exciting. I always know how brilliant and wonderful Jaime is, and how lucky I am to have her. But these recent discussions have reminded me forcefully of how necessary she is to my life.
Which brings me to the poems. A lot of our talks lately have been about religion and spirituality. We are attempting to discover the best way of introducing spiritual ideas into the lives of our kids. We’ve never been comfortable with mainstream ideas of spiritual things, and our own paths are strange and difficult, as true spiritual paths often are. Working in a daycare, I hear little kid conversations about God and the universe that make me deeply concerned about what my son will learn about his own spiritual path through his peers. (If you’re wondering, to most kids, God is Santa/mean dad, and he randomly turns people into birds.)
As always when I am disturbed and challenged by ideas Jaime lobs at me, I look to the poems of the masters. Not surprisingly, Hafez faced a pretty awful establishment that had warped spiritual beliefs into a mockery of Truth for money and power*. He’d recognize our frustration and sadness at the current state of churches and states all too well. He wrote some amazing poems about the shackles people attempt to put on the Beloved, and how they can be overcome.
The small man build cages for everyone he knows.
While the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the beautiful rowdy
Someone put You on a slave block
and the unreal bought You.
Now I keep coming to Your owner saying,
‘This one is mine.’
You often overhear us talking
and this can make your heart leap with
Don’t worry. I will not let sadness possess you.
I will gladly borrow all the gold I need
to get you back.
So, we wait for some way to provide the kids with wisdom, and muddle through as best we can. They have their own paths, and I don’t presume to have a perfect answer for their journey. I wish I had a small glimmer of where they need to place their feet. I suppose in trying to find some place for them to live and grow safely and honestly I am finding that first place. I need to be a big enough person and a good enough father to trust that they’ll take the step.
*Amazing how often that happens. To be clear, I don’t intend this to criticize people who are involved in organized religion. There are great and beautiful people there, I’m sure. And one good person doing good work is to be lauded. But I can’t get past the problems. I can’t ignore that genuine spiritual people are persecuted while greed and corruption pollute the religion. I certainly don’t mean these poems as a judgement, and I doubt Hafez did either. He meant them as a call to insanity, as Love can be crazy.