Saturday, May 31, 2014

Think Twice About Leaving the Sidelines

Think Twice About Leaving the Sidelines

You might think twice about leaving the sidelines 
of love 
where you are allowed to dwadle. 
I wouldn't enter the real playing field
unless you had no other choice.
But does anyone? 

         It is inevitable that as humans we will one day "leave the sidelines" and enter the great playing field of a game called Love. It will be in this arena that we experience all the emotions of joy, hurt, beauty, betrayal, triumph, and timelessness. As I read through the exchange of letters between Mary Haskell and Kahlil Gibran, I've come to see that she was a very gifted writer herself. In two personal journal entries less than two weeks apart, I love how she openly expressed the longing that comes with a lit heart-fire as well as common doubt. Common doubt I define as feelings of maybe-I'm-not-good-enough that I'd wager every girl experiences at least once in her life. Mary, being ten years Gibran's senior, struggled with not knowing if Gibran abstained from sex because he needed to (he claimed his Love operated on only a spiritual wavelength) or if it was actually because he did not feel attracted to Mary. (Of note, Gibran eventually would openly discuss his feelings of physical attraction for Mary, but would continue to believe that sex would undermine their relationship for the duration of his life.)

Mary's journal December 20, 1914: " It seems to me that if I were ninety and he eighty, I should still long for the touch of his body. I should live just to have it next to mine." 

Mary's journal December 29, 1914: "K whispered, 'I just wish that I could show you how sweet the thought of you is to me, and how I love You.' As he said this, he looked at me. I was gray and lined and old-looking."

Just a Kiss (2011), Lady Antebullum

Friday, May 30, 2014

Visiting a Foreign Country

Visiting a Foreign Country

If you were planning to move to a foreign country
and thought you might never return, 

would not it then be prudent to acclimate yourself 
to any custom they might have 

for in heaven what can increase your soul's 
expanse is all that is ever served. 

       During the summer months, when her teaching job let out, Mary Haskell would travel out west. Usually she ventured to California, equally enjoying passing through the mountains of the Midwest until she reached her destination in a secluded wilderness part of California. In her July 19, 1014 letter she writes: "I have found a treasure for you - a tiny Indian arrowhead - what I have wished for you every year in the Sierra, but never saw before. I love it so much - I climbed the rocks to get this for you. It grows only in certain limits and where it can climb a mountainside. Like you, beloved Kahlil."
       His reply, dated July 22, 1914, reads: "Your letter is a wonderful message, beloved Mary. It thrills my heart - and makes me see the stupidity of any other way of living. It is a mighty thing to go with love to those regions beyond these days and these nights. But how much more wonderful it is, beloved Mary, to know you as I do. You have freed my life."
       Gibran's reference to "the stupidity of any other way of living" means that life lacks so much without travel and adventure. He acknowledges it is good for both the body and the soul to experience life in forms newly happened upon. So travel, explore, adventure, for "what can increase you soul's expanse is all that is ever served".

Sierra Mountains 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Miracle of Darkness

The Miracle of Darkness

Now, with illuminating spheres appearing 
whenever I turn and something even greater,

tell me God, more of your miracle of darkness 
I can see in other lives. 

I once cried for what was not in my hand,
not knowing it was there. 

Finally you pointed out my misconception,
and darkness would be thought of
as a miracle to me now. 

         In a July 7, 1914 letter from Mary she speaks about how just conjuring up memories of Kahlil and simply knowing he exists is enough to bring her peace in the trying times of her life, which she defines in terms of "continuous clouds" and "raging storms". She writes of those shadowy times: "Always at least I am not without you - even when all else is vague or ghastly. And this I should feel, even if you were for days without thought of me. Because thought is only a small part of us. We are more together than we know, even though our knowledge of it grows. And when I turn to you, Kahlil, something loosens and dimness clears - and something is sweet and there is warmth. I am never in a storm now without you."

Scare Away the Dark (2014), Passenger 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014



Even the shadow of God is brilliant, 
so much so that God has trouble looking 
at Himself 
unless He is more disguised,
hidden as He can be in us. 

          Today Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. She was a marvelous poet, remembered the world over for her touching poetry, poetry that spoke to the soul and deepened the spirit. And like all revered poets, she attempted to address the big questions, what does it mean to love? To live? To have regret? To express forgiveness? The stanza below is the last stanza in When Great Trees Fall, the last poem in Angelou’s, I Shall Not Be Moved:

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

      So what happens when great souls die? It's safe to say Angelou already knew the answer, we are better because they existed. Like many others on the internet tonight, I have selected my favorite five quotes by her: 
  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 
  • “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” 
  • “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.” 
  • “I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”  
  • “The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.” 
"The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give.' is one of my best lessons from her." - Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Everything In Your Kingdom

Everything In Your Kingdom

It can't forsake you, Love.
For I know the kingdom of each mind
stretches so far. 
Is there anything not in it? 

Would not all your moments of grief, and their residue,
end at that juncture where the Sun is walking 
toward you 
and you toward it 
creating a union as certain as anything ever was. 

         I love this Hafiz poem, there is nothing that extends beyond the kingdom of Love. And when you greet the kingdom, in all its varied forms, it is the "juncture where the Sun is walking toward you". And moreover, he says that this union is created "as certain as anything ever was". Isn't that what we want to believe about our soulmate? The person we feel destined to spend the rest of our life with? The person we want to be doing everything with? Don't we want that to be "as certain as anything ever was"?
          Gibran knew that one of the ways love evolves (or perhaps is noticed in the first place) is that you desire to see the world with them, to see all that is beautiful and breathtaking. He writes in a May 7, 1911 letter: "Just came from the museum. O how much I want to see these beautiful things with you. We must see these things together someday. I feel so lonely when I stand before a great work of art. Even in Heaven one must have a beloved companion in order of enjoy it fully. Good night, dear. I kiss your hands and your eyes."
         And a year later on October 22, 1912, he again speaks of this mutual walking: "The most wonderful thing, Mary, is that you and I are always walking together, hand in hand, in a strangely beautiful world, unknown to other people."
          On June 14, 1914 he puts into words the idea that another person's support gives you a separate and distinct, yet equally powerful freedom, for now someone believes in you and that emotion conferred by another is enough to give one wings: "The biggest thing you've said to me Mary is; 'I am fighting for life - and never anyone but you to stand by me. I know you must stand alone most of the time, but if there is room for a foot by you, I want my foot there.' I put myself in your hands. You can put yourself in another person's hands when he knows what you are doing and has respect for it and loves it. He gives you your freedom."

I Was Just Thinking (2003), Teitur

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just One Great Prophet

Just One Great Prophet

If we were smarter, it would have been 
enough that just one great Prophet 
would have to make a personal appearance on Earth. 

He or She probably could have easily fixed some 
important things forever,
written a book that really gave us the total lowdown
and that no one would dare edit. 

God in human form, 
could have shown us the herbs to cure any illness 
humans would ever know.

But looks like it does not work that way. 

          "He kissed me as he has a few times before when I have been in trouble, with a tenderness beyond dreams, as God might kiss a child in his arms." - Mary Haskell's journal September 2, 1913. Throughout history there have been many times that humans have said God walked among, but perhaps even more times when we've needed God to walk among us. In those we love, we get small glimpses of God or at least the version of God that appears to our hearts. And to Gibran this was in part a miracle, for in his July 8, 1914 letter, he wrote: "My knowing you is the greatest thing in my days and nights, a miracle quite outside the natural order of things."

Morningbird (2003), Forest Sun

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Maybe One Like

Maybe One Like

Your soul could have chosen 
a different kind of body,
one that was not nearly as fragile,

and actually, it did try that, your soul, 
being like other things,
but then decided that a form like yours
was the best. 

       On April 26, 1914 Kahlil wrote to Mary, "You've given me my life in a literal sense. I could not have lived - except that you gave me life. So many actually die for lack of some such person as you to save them. It was not just the money but the way you gave it, the love you gave with it and the faith, the knowledge that there was somebody who cared. I wonder sometimes whether ever in history one soul has done for another what you have done for me."
       If that last line is not one of the most powerful lines in love letters, I don't know what is! When you are looking for someone to love, you doing one of the most important tasks in "soul-searching" that you ever will. The physical looks of a person will fade, the money might not always come in, their health could deteriorate, but if you "love souls, you will find them again" (one of the famous, and oft-quoted in my blog,  lines of Victor Hugo). So how do you decide if you're attracted to someone's soul? If the connection is deep enough that it will continue to fascinate your curiosities, that it will continue to encourage your dreams, that it will grow and change with you, it's likely more along the lines of soul's desire. Gibran often addressed Mary as "you the mountain climber, you the life hunter, you my beloved". These three things are emanated by the soul. He also speaks of the soul's own wavelength with beautiful eloquence: "You are always near me. There are times when I talk to you by the hour. There is telepathic communication between us. I knew that ages ago. How could two beings, such as we are, understand one another without that silent communication? You always make me put my hand on the brightest spot in my soul. Until Sunday, Beloved." - December 19, 1913

All That You Have Is Your Soul (1989), Tracy Chapman 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spare The World Your Good Ideas

Spare The World Your Good Ideas

Spare the world your ideas of good
until you know all is good 
my teacher once told me.

Spare the world your ideas of right,
until you know that all is holy. 

       On November 16, 1913 Mary wrote to Kahlil "To you now, what you write and paint expresses mere fragments of your vision. Your work is not only books and pictures, they are but bits of it, your work is you. You need not "give yourself up" to your work, you are your work. Even on days you write to me that you "cannot work", you are accomplishing it, are of it, just like the days when you "can work". There is no division. Your living is all of it. Someday, your silence will be read with your writings, your absence along with your art, your darkness will be part of your light. To think these things wakes so many other things in me about you, for that future is so dear to me. It is like the resolution of greatest dissonances in music. You know the use of that word resolution in music, don't you? - so deep and so beautiful. It is like the reconciliation of life. And do you know reconciliation used in that way? To me it is one of the profoundest and fullest of our words. God bless, you my dear Kahlil, you are so near to me tonight." 
        Mary knew that all of Gibran's work (and life) was holy. She knew that his hours spent daydreaming and cloud hunting were just as important as the hours with his brushes and pens. Sometimes, it takes someone to remind us that our calling encompasses everything we do in our lives - when we tend to our families, our work, our garden, etc. we tend to what defines us as a person. Mary's words are true, Gibran's "work" encompassed only mere fragments of his vision. Like anyone else, his life and the thoughts he left behind were the golden bits. 

Heart of Life (2007), John Mayer 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Extraordinary Influence You Can Yield

The Extraordinary Influence You Can Yield

At some point one's prayers will become 
so powerful that they can shake a full tree
in an orchard in heaven and fruit will roll
through the streets in this world. 

But, dear, until you can do that, 
maybe apprentice yourself to someone who can,
and they will help your destiny achieve the 
height of the extraordinary influence you can yield. 

          We have more power to do good when we are surrounded by those who love us and see our potentiality, those who believe we are destined to work for Infinite and apprentice ourselves to a world beyond this one. Gibran wrote to Mary on February 8, 1914: "I wish I could tell you, beloved Mary, what your letters mean to me. They create a soul in my soul. I read them as messages from life. Somehow they always come when I need them most, and they always bring that element which makes us desire more days and more nights and more life."
         I suspect that humans frequently pray for more time, more time to laugh, and be happy, and spend on Earth with those we love. These are the prayers that shake trees in another world. These are the prayers that cause physical trembling and words that have more soul than voice. These prayers parch the mind as much as they do the mouth. We wonder, have I been heard? Will my deepest wishes be granted? Or only warmly mentioned in my dreams? We do not frequently get the answer. The only thing that comforts us is another heart to whom our heart belongs. How many people do you have like that in your life? Ten? Five? Two? Gibran had one and he reminded her of it whenever he could.
         From a March 1, 1914 letter: "A mighty storm is raging outside. The studio is nice and warm, and a keen desire for work is in my soul. A storm frees my heart from little cares and pains. A storm always awakens whatever passion there is in me. I become eager, and seek relief in work. I often picture myself living on a mountain top in the world, in the most stormy country. Is there such a place? If there is I shall go to it someday and turn my heart into pictures and poems. This is not a letter, beloved Mary. I only wanted to tell you that you and I are going to work while the storm is singing a wild song and dancing a passionate dance. With your blessings in me, and the storm outside of me, the work is bound to be good."

Romance on the Mountaintop GIF

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When The Wind Takes A Tree In Its Arms

When The Wind Takes A Tree In Its Arms

Three-quarters of the world dances all night,
the waves moving as they do on the seas.

And when the wind takes a tree in its arms,
what happens then? 

The green branches of the earth may seem to 
reach out to touch us if we near them in a forest,
a meadow, a field. 

Does not all sway to a rhythm that began long 
before we stood upright? 

We are in the mountain's home, just guests. 
Guests of the sky, the streams, the giving soil
we all nurse from. 

Would not you be happier following their example - 
bowing in unseen ways, then rising up? 

          How can we bow in an unseen way? How can we discover our purpose and calling in a world that is strangely beautiful and yet does not always confer freedom? In Mary Haskell November 23, 1912 letter she writes to Gibran: "Inwardly something in me has been saying to you, "Kahlil Gibran, you shall continue to walk by your own light. I don't even want you to be a poet or a painter: I want you to be whatever you are led or impelled to become. If you find yourself disappointing - drop self-expectations. What you are turning into you cannot expect to know, but you can trust it, and believe that if it is other than you planned, it will also be better than you planned - however different. Nothing you become will disappoint me; I have no preconception that I'd like to see you be or do. I have no desire to foresee you, only to discover you. I love you."
          This is the best type of love, love that illuminates the brightest spots of your own soul. Love that ignites you to shimmer, to shine, without any expectation of how that fire should be lit or when and where the flame should burn. This is true love, and Mary had that for Gibran. She would take him, writer, poet, painter, friend.

Giving Up (2006), Ingrid Michaelson

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just As I Suspected

Just As I Suspected

In a vision I heard this clearly whispered: 

Study those who sing the most,
but are free of criticism or praise. 

       In love there exists a special song that, while not free criticism or praise, rises above it. I was tempted to write "immune to it", but this is not the truth, love can falter and fail in the face of difficulty, in the face of questions, in the face of not being accepted. Love is not immune to this negativity, but instead Love takes it all in, and rises above it anyway. Gibran wrote to Mary in a January 1911 letter: "When you are alone, in the silence of the night, send me a little breath from your heart. If I can open a new corner in a man's own heart to him I have not lived in vain."
     What a beautiful sentiment to subscribe to your beloved. Perhaps in the above musing, Gibran even referred to his own heart, and the opening that true love can provide.

Peaceful Easy Feeling (1972), Eagles 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

That Knowledge You Will Not Be Able to Accept

That Knowledge You Will Not Be Able to Accept

The parents of three young birds got shot 
by a hunter. 

After a few days of no food 
the two larger birds killed
their brother;
they ate him and picked 
at his bones for a week. 

Then that hunger 
we have all known 
set in again,
and it lasted,
and it caused another set 
of wings to never climb
into the sky. 

A few more nights passed,
then at sunrise the lone bird fell
from its nest, though survived 
the fall and landed near some ants,
which it ate until it learned to fly. 

And fly it did. Its song came to please 
many ears, 
Its beauty enhanced the view of all who saw it,
even a loving parent, it one day did become. 

The guards at the gate of heaven know this story,
but such knowledge about what is innocent 
and what is wrong,
you will not be able to accept until your 
and an angel's ways are more similar. 
It just works like that. 

        I found this poem very comforting, as it served as reminder that any poorly lived life can turn around. We can think of a "poorly lived life" in terms of the poem, that misfortune befell someone when they were young and had no control over their circumstances or (also in terms of the poem) an immoral choice despite other (perceived) possible choices. If something led you to do something less than worthy, make sure you read this entire poem. Do not stop after hearing of the hardship the young bird suffered, instead look forward and read on about how he became graceful, beautiful, and a helping hand. In time, he was only known (and remembered) as someone who brought joy to others. Is that not what the artist does?
      From Mary Haskell's journal (November 9, 1912): "Did you ever look upon the present with the eyes of the future?" said Kahlil at night. "I know the future - not in detail - but in the great outline - and I accept it. Nothing will stop my work. I may lose health - but my work will go on. I may work less, but I will accomplish more."

nothing changes 
Being 50: Saga video competition winner 2011

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Like Musicians

I Like Musicians

I like musicians and will offer 
freely to their hat. 
Wise the beggar who can get a coin 
from my purse, for it will multiply 
it could turn into emerald worlds. 

But what you get from me needs to be held
not quickly spent. 

How can you do that? 
Allow a fire in your gaze to occur 
something you want to see that was hiding 
in the invisible 
will begin to step forward
and grow in you. 

           Gibran knew the value of the artist, the poet, the musician, the author. They can light the fire unseen and draw the intangible out of us. In his November 10, 1911 letter he writes: "There is an old Arabic song which begins, "Only God and I know what is in my heart" - and today, after rereading your last three letters, I said out loud "Only God and Mary and I know what is in my heart." I would open my heart and carry it in my hand so that others may know also; for there is no deeper desire than the desire of being revealed. We all want the little light in us to be taken from under the bushel. The first poet must have suffered much when the cave-dwellers laughed at his mad words. He would have given his bow and arrows and lion skin, everything he possessed, just to have his fellow-men know the delight and the passion which the sunset had created in his soul. And yet, is it not this mystic pain - the pain of not being known - that gives birth to art and artists? It is surely a noble thing to say "art for art's sake" but is it not nobler to open they eyes of the blind so that they may share the silent joy of your days and nights? True Art should be made practical by revealing its beauty to people - I said practical because anything that adds to our world of vision is practical."
             Art does add to our world of vision as Gibran mused. Art often times creates the sunset within the soul that Gibran has so poetically explained. And while Art (and the liberal arts) are not always seen as pragmatic pursuits, Gibran expands our definition of practical to anything that adds beauty to this world. Perhaps that is the better way to analyze if our endeavors are "worth it".
             Below is an untitled painting by Gibran. Perhaps it is the hand of God cradling man. Perhaps it is a lover offering a resting place. Perhaps it is something that brings someone, somewhere, a sunrise within.

Gibran's Art

Sunday, May 18, 2014



From man's perspective in this extraordinary game
called life

it is so easy to become confused
and think you are the doer,

but from God's infinite certainty
He always knows

He is the only one who should ever
be put on trial

From Mary Haskell's journal (June 12, 1912):
"I've talked with the gods today, and prayed to them," said I.
"What did you ask for?" said Kahlil. "I have been doing it too."
"What was your prayer?" said I.
"Oh! I asked you first," said he. 
"I realized," said I, "that all the trouble I ever had about you came from some smallness or fear in myself. And I prayed that if more of that remains in me, as no doubt there does - it shall be burnt, torn, blown, killed, out of me - at whatever cost."
"Mine was very different,"  he said. "I asked that things be made lasting."
"Our things?" said I.

          The reality of a thing is sometimes different from our conception of it. Often times that is because we do not have the certainty that it will last and our fear of loss is a very real fear in human life. Perhaps if we had some assurance, we would be less afraid, even of ourselves (and our own ability to "ruin" a relationship). However, we do not have this infinite certainty that our relationships will be permanent. Still, we must go forth with the comfort that if something is real, even if its expression went in this life, it will surely be resumed elsewhere in the beyond.

The Divine World, Gibran

Saturday, May 17, 2014

As Fertile As I Am

As Fertile As I Am

Just the deep quiet, 
just wanting that now,
the unmoving breeze 
- God - 
to penetrate me 

as if were a woman needing,
wanting, destined to conceive,

and now was the only moment 
ever available to this life. 

The Beloved must lie beside me 
in the next hour,
the Light must leave its seed all 
over my frame and inside
so full inside that I drip upon the street
as I then bless the earth with my steps. 

Then God will flood by every crevice
and the world will become my attendant 

Look at all the good I could do if I ever wished 
to give birth to the Beloved 
to give the Beloved to this world. 

         In Gibran and Haskell's relationship the question was often asked if they were lovers in the physical sense. Though Gibran stayed rather hush on the matter, commenting only that it was a shame  people see unifying bodies sexually as the highest expression of love, when in reality the twinning of two souls is the only thing that can satiate another being, Haskell said at times she grew frustrated. She doubted Gibran's complete interest in her if he did not want to have sex with her, though she willingly offered (and acknowledged she felt many more women had also offered, as there was something about Gibran's mind and the way it focused on you as if you were the only woman in existence that made one yearn for his body as well).
        Now while Gibran did not have an interest in talking about his rejection of sex, he did openly discuss his desire to marry Mary, though he felt he could not in all actuality live up to it. From Mary Haskell's journal in April of 1912: "He spoke of the impossibility of his marrying now and the probability that always the urge to express what is in him will absorb him too much for marriage. It would be unfair to two things - the two most concerned; to the woman and the work. And I think he believed me when I told him I was with him in thought and realized that he needs all of himself now for the work and isn't ready to marry. I gave him too my guess that after he is established he will marry a rare but younger woman. "Well, irrespective of that hypothetical ideal being," he said, "let me say that I want to work always with you, to grow always with you. And my study is, how best to keep that something, that relation, between us unhurt, undimmed, living. I make mistakes, many mistakes in little things and in details. But about a big thing I've never yet been mistaken. And I feel that this thing between you and me is lasting. 70,000 years hence I shall be saying the same thing to you. Are you not conscious" - with a laugh - "of its being said 70,000 years ago?"
         Over six months (November of 1912) after their previous conversation on the matter, Mary took to her journal to write down a revelation that had come to her: "I have realized how eminently the great poet is the great lover. I see it in Shakespeare and Aesochylus and Homer and Job. This explains Kahlil. Explains too the instinct I've had since we first met, to assure him of my personal feeling for him - my desire, in every degree of love I've borne him, to make him certain of it. Gradually I've understood that the value of such certainty is chiefly the freedom it gives him to love - since to Love only is Love welcome. It explains too so much of the small direct emphasis on sex of great poets: it irradiates their work, as it does real life - but is not predominantly talked about. They love all the life of man; his asexual levels have no dullness for them; therefore they take sex-love as it comes - and every other miracle thread of the web as it comes. Their souls are exercised like athletes' bodies. I have been aware of a difference from the custom of lovers - in the infrequency of letters between Kahlil and me and the brevity of his at least, and their rather few love-expressions. I've always known that rareness of love-words with him arose from more love, not less - but I've never known why this was. Now I know it is because all his living is a loving, is Loving. I know too why I so often wish I could just sit in the room with him and work while he worked - why I miss our never doing the daily round while we are together - and sometimes desire that more special talk with him - if it were not that we meet so little that there is always more special talk that must be, than we can possibly finish."
         Gibran did comment on what sex with Mary would be like in one letter only (at least only one letter that appears in Beloved Prophet: The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran, perhaps there could be other unpublished letters that contain musings). I found it rather poetic: "It would be so good to sit in your shadow for a few minutes afterward."
         Walking in or lying under someone's shadow does serve as wonderful source of comfort in this world.
         Below is Gibran's piece called "Love". Isn't it interesting how only the heads touch instead of the full intertwining of bodies?

Love, Gibran

Friday, May 16, 2014

An Infant In Your Arms

An Infant In Your Arms

The tide of my love has risen so high,
let me flood over you.

Close your eyes for a moment 
and maybe all your fears and fantasies 
will end. 

If that happened God would become 
an infant in your arms 

and you would find you could 
nurse all creation. 

         The following words are from Mary Haskell's journal on January 28, 1912 after she received a copy of Gibran's recently published novel, Broken Wings. "Came from Kahlil a marked copy of Broken Wings, just out - with the dedication translated and the title of each chapter. The cover is green-gray paper, much like 314's (her home) walls in effect, and good. Thus Kahlil translates the dedication, on the same page, above it: "To her who gazes at the sun with fixed eyes; who touches the Fire with fingers that tremble not; who hears the songs of the Absolute while in the midst of the hollering blind - to M.E.H. I dedicate this book. Gibran." In reply - I could only cry out of my speechlessness: To him who turns eyes sunward; who brings fire; who gives the Absolute a voice; whose immortality my name exults to hear - acknowledgment."
      Gibran later wrote, about the book (written in Arabic), "the only part which I am pleased to claim has been penned from my hand is the three English letters" (these letters referred to Mary's initials in the dedication).

Need You Now (2010), Lady Antebellum

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Freedom From the Shackle

Freedom From the Shackle

Once in mid-reach I inquired of my hand,

"Friend, what moves you in that direction?
What hope do you expect to fulfill?" 

And an answer came to my mind 
A voice I heard within said, "It is freedom
from the shackle that is the root of all 

        Gibran wrote on December 19, 1912: "I believe, Mary, that the future will not be unkind to my work. I will not be able to interest those who worship old gods, follow old thoughts, and live with old desires. But, there are people who could be free from all the chains of Yesterday; those who are capable of living in this Now are rather few, but they are the most powerful."
      The shackle of yesterday that Gibran and Hafiz speak about is something that plagues us all from time to time. How do we stop worrying and looking at life through the eye's of our past mistakes, realized misfortunes, and unanswered yearnings? To walk onward we must desire the freedom of a life lived "in the now". Gibran recognizes that his work reflects a man who is doing things differently, who is unencumbered by the chains of the common man's thoughts. For this, he knows not everyone in his time will accept his work, but has faith that the future will look upon it more kindly.
      That same week, on Christmas Day, Mary Haskell penned these words in her journal: "Kahlil came last night, and I looked at him...he is so deeply electrifying - mobile, like flame."

Life Is A Flame, Gibran

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Heart's Coronation

The Heart's Coronation

The pawn always sits stunned, chained,
unable to move beneath God's magnificent power. 

It is essential for the heart's coronation 
for the pawn to realize 

there is nothing but divine movement 
in this world 
nothing but love 

         Today's entry will be from Mary Haskell's diary (often a more detailed and poetically moving acocunt than her letters back to Gibran). This journal entry is from June 15, 1912: "Kahlil's face is full of stars. There's brightness all over it. Look at him and you'd know there's not a dead spot in him. Anywhere you'd see him you'd know there was a peculiar power in him and peculiar beauty. When we walked home today I asked Kahlil if we could go pick up my shoes that had been mended on Massachusetts Avenue. Since he was carrying my belongings, I wondered if he might rather wait at 314 while I fetched them. "Oh no, I would have missed out on four blocks with you. I prize too dearly each moment we're together to miss out on that." Now little flashes of him, like his answer, lay the beat of his heart suddenly against mine."
       It's so amazing how dearly the power of an answer that appeals to the soul can be felt. I think we've all had a moment in which we understand that concept, how little flashes of a wonderful minute will come back as you reflect over the day. After all, where you invest your love, you invest your time, your memories, your thoughts, your life.

I Choose You (2014), Sara Bareilles

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Wade Out Into Other Forms

I Wade Out Into Other Forms

It used to come and go as it wanted,
it seemed, Love. It left me feeling helpless. 

Now waves of Him now greet my shore.
I wade out into other forms of myself.
And I swim in what I never thought I could.

Inseparate is any creature from Light, from Love,
from the Ocean, became my discovery. 

        I love this portion of Gibran's letter from November 8, 1908. In it, he inquires: "The professors in the academy say, "Do not make the model more beautiful than she is," and my soul whispers, "O if you could only paint the model as beautiful as she really is." Now what shall I do, dear Mary? Shall I please the professors or my soul? The dear old men know a great deal, but the soul is much nearer.  I am not asking the same question as my teachers. My question to you is, should I ask it anyway?"
        What would be your answer?

Metaphysical portrait of spiritual intimacy by Kahlil Gibran

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn

The best time to look for treasure 
starts late at night.

The sediment then settles in our sphere,
freed from all the day's hard wants.

Once can get a clearer shot at God moving 
in the sky forest, just before dawn.

And is there ever a minute, my dear,
when you are not hunting Love? 

          Today I will continue on the topic of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell's love letters. Since Mary Haskell often went adventuring to the west during the summer and Kahlil stayed in New York, he reached out to her in the early fall (September 19) of 1911 to see if he could come to Boston just as soon as she arrived home. At this time boat lines operated between New York and Boston. From 1916 to 1937, there was a direct line, called the Metropolitan, which went by water from New York to Boston, on an overnight trip.

"I had a mystic, sleepless night on the boat. No stateroom to be had and the berths on the odor of drunkenness so I spent the night on deck with the stars, the bladelike moon, and then a remarkable sunrise. The memory of such a night strangely veiled with silence, and those bright, countless worlds sailing quietly through the immeasurable space made me think a million high thoughts." 

Just Another Day in Paradise (2006), Phil Vassar

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We Live To Be Near Her

We Live To Be Near Her

When beauty walks into the room 
and sits down close to you 
and is willing to let you gaze at her
as much as you want.

no one has to tell you all is alright now.
no one has to parrot again
someday your pain won't exist. 

For we live to be near her. 
Part of her benediction is that all 
you want to come alive does. 

Passion in full throttle says to the past 
says to worries
go, go
and places our attention on splendor. 

          I can write my own blog on the things mothers should impart while they're alive - an audacity of mind, a generosity of spirit, and a munificence of love. Thankfully, I cannot yet remark on what they impart when they're gone. Conversely, after reading many blogs, Arianna Huffington's blog on Mother's Day stood out as the blog that provided that answer. She writes, "It's as though certain gifts can be bequeathed only at one's death - that while she was alive she so embodied the qualities of nurturing, giving, and unconditional loving that it felt as if those dimensions of life were taken care of for all those blessed to be in her orbit. What she left us with is the treasure house of her spirit."
        Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you! <3

A Mother's Love, Mark Masri and Jim Brickman

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Every City Is a Dulcimer

Every City Is a Dulcimer 

There is the rising up from light's embrace,
you can see in a summer field 
or in a child dancing. 

Every city is a dulcimer that plays its chorus 
against our ears.

If I don't ever complete a sentence 
while we are together, accept my apologies

and try to understand this sweet thought: 

Birds intially had no desire to fly,
so God sat close to them playing music.

When He left, they missed him so much 
their great longing sprouted wings
and they took to the sky. 

Listen, nothing evolves us like love. 

        This is so very true, nothing evolves us like love. My book of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell's love letters (a book no longer in print) arrived today from the Orange, Connecticut Public Library, as they were discarding it (due to no one EVER checking it out, wow)! The letters span a period of over 22 years from 1908-1931. While this book claims to hold the love letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell there is really no indication that they were lovers in the physical sense, though no one can deny the passion they had for each other's souls. The letters are beautiful in a spiritual way and the longing so pure it is beyond description. The desire you will find in these letters is the type of desire for another person's ultimate good. In honor of my boyfriend's birthday today, I will be blogging about these letters for the next couple of weeks. I begin at the beginning, quoting from a November 8th letter amongst their first year of letters in 1908.

"When I am unhappy, dear Mary, I read your letters. When the mist overwhelms the "I" in me, I take two or three letters out of the little box and reread them. They remind me of my true self. They make me overlook all that is not high and beautiful in life. Each and every one of us, dear Mary, must have a resting place somewhere. The resting place of my soul is a beautiful grove where my knowledge of you lives." 

Never Stop (2012), Safety Suit 

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Simple Chat

The Simple Chat

A burning coal against the flesh - 
who has not felt this, from news that reached you,

or the shock to your nerves from bearing
eyewitness to horrific events? 

Avalanches come, but the simple chat will return. 
May it last long, and be realized as precious. 

       This is a very interestingly worded poem. It suggests that the atrocities of the world come and then "normal" life returns. Except, after such a reflection is provoked, Hafiz concludes "may it be realized as precious". The day-to-day happenings of our lives, the simple chat, should indeed be recognized as valuable treasures. In Skiing with the Dalai Lama in last week's (May 2nd) edition of The Week the following story was told:

"We rode the lift down and repaired to the lodge for cookies and hot chocolate. The Dalai Lama was exhilarated from his visit to the top of the mountain. As we finished, a young waitress with tangled, dirty-blond hair and a beaded headband began clearing our table. She stopped to listen to the conversation and finally sat down, abandoning her work. After a while, when there was a pause, she spoke to the Dalai Lama, "Can I, um, ask you a question?" "Please." She spoke with complete seriousness, "What is the meaning of life?" 

In my entire week with the Dalai Lama, every conceivable question had been asked - except this one. People had been afraid to ask the one - the really big - question. There was a brief, stunned silence. The Dalai Lama answered immediately. "The meaning of life is happiness." He raised is finger, leaning forward, focusing on her as if she were the only person in the world. "Hard question is not, 'What is meaning of life?' That is easy question to answer! No, hard question is what make happiness? Money? Big house? Accomplishment? Friends? Or..." He paused. "Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: 'What make true happiness?'" 

          Obviously, this story is very powerful, but something additional stood out to me in their "simple chat". The Dalai Lama shutting out the rest of the world, focusing solely on the person he was conversing with, trying to sympathize and care about her interests, her questions. Shouldn't we all strive to behave like that in our own simple chats?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

For A Single Tear

For A Single Tear

I know of beauty 
that no one has ever known

How could that be possible
when I seem so new in infinite time? 

It is because God belongs to only you!
Did you hear that?

God belongs to only you
That is the only reasonable 
payment for a single tear. 

        If you haven't seen the blog Humans of New York, you should check it out. Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the movement, began photographing people in the summer of 2010 with the idea that he could create a catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants. In time, he realized that the short stories from the people he met, complimented the photograph's power, and that's when his blog took off. Sometimes he simply jots down what they say, other times, it's one small snippet from the entire conversation, sometimes an observation, and often their answer to a deep question like "What was your happiest moment?" "What was your saddest moment?" "What was the moment in which you felt most afraid?" "When did you know you loved her/him?" "What is your favorite thing about her/him?" With nearly four million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.
       It is amazing what people are willing to share with a stranger, and equally amazing the impact it can have. I have not gone through all of the thousands of posts, but some of my recent personal favorites are below.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Imagination Does Not Exist

Imagination Does Not Exist

For me, and for the one who is One with God,
imagination does not exist 

Whatever you might be able to do in a dream,
or in a thought or fantasy,

I could literally pull from my pocket,
or just make appear in my hand. 

What kind of world is this then 
that we live in? 

Me being otherworldly (or at least attempting that adjective in photographic form)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

All In All

All In All

"Could you help me with this?"
an ant said to an elephant 
when a large seed the ant was dragging
back to its nest 
got stuck between some grass.

The elephant, looking down 
and feeling kindhearted that day, 
began to contemplate
all that might be needed to render some service,

but the task just seemed too delicate
and in need of more precision than the elephant's
trunk or one of his feet 
or even his tail or one of his grand ears
could handle effectively. 

So the elephant began to pray for divine intervention,
and sure enough it worked, or it seemed to - 

a berry on a nearby bush happened to fall 
in such a way as to free the seed 
onward for its destination. 

The elephant's faith in God was increased,
and the ant, having heard the prayer, 
was now less of an agnostic,
which he had been for the last year or so
because of personal reasons. 

            People hunt for religion at various points in their lives for a multitude of reasons, some look in the church, some look in the classroom, others in mosques, others in literature. I like what Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, said: "The purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness inside our hearts." Perhaps we should judge religion, and those who decide to practice any calling of faith, as being good based solely on whether or not its adherents become better people as a result.

Battle in the Heavens (1912), Nicholas Roerich

Monday, May 5, 2014

Beyond Any Silence You Have Heard

Beyond Any Silence You Have Heard

Different trees grow various heights and then
perish and evolve into another species. 

They reach their limbs - their souls - 
a little deeper into incandescence's well

and then tell the world by their marvelous 
appearance what that life is like. 

Yes, try to do that before you depart this 
wondrous place we are visiting: 

bring us some good tidings of silence 
beyond any silence you have heard. 

                Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, "Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it. It is where I dwell." UChicago asked students, in their college admission essay, to "Give us your guess". I think it would have been a fun essay to write, as we all hunger for a silent music at times...where our dreams of tomorrow can meet with the realities of today. I would say my answer to the question consists in the spaces between moments when your mind is free of thoughts, the pause before a kiss, the lost second at a traffic light, glancing up across the room at someone, sniffing a warm chocolate chip cookie, the final note of a song, etc.

Young Girls at the Piano (1892), Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Had a Legitimate Excuse

I Had a Legitimate Excuse

I had a legitimate excuse 
for not going to the mosque 
and temple and church to pray. 

It was because love is so wild in me. 

              G.K. Chesterton said, "Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair." A love affair consists of many things, but one of those things is that this is the person you can tell your dreams to. They will give you the confidence, the self belief, and the encouragement needed to pursue them. For, if we have the courage to pursue them, dreams are our realities in waiting. This person will understand that (and they will want to share in it), they will provide your flame with firewood, they will bring along an extra match, and they will kindle the ever-growing pyre with all their heart. This is to love wildly. Some people find this intimate relationship with God only. Others are fortunate enough to find it within another human being. 

Your Song (1970), Elton John

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Then Things Got Really Hot

Then Things Got Really Hot

She said I could touch her all I wanted,
a beautiful woman I met.

I thought she would have acted 
more surprised and delighted when I finally 
kissed her with all my passion,
but she did not.

That inspired me to develop my spirit more,
which was less intimated by time and space. 
Then things got really hot! 

     On May 2nd, the Op-Ed, "Love Story" appeared in the New York Times. In it, the columnist, David Brooks, describes what it means to spiritually make love with someone, and does so in a way I'd like to preserve, so below are direct excerpts from the column.

"Eight months ago, I came across a passage in a book that has haunted me since. It was in Michael Ignatieff’s biography of Isaiah Berlin, and it concerns a night Berlin spent in Leningrad in 1945. Berlin was hanging out when a friend asked if he’d like to go visit Anna Akhmatova. Not knowing much about her, Berlin said yes.

Twenty years older than Berlin, Akhmatova had been a great pre-revolutionary poet. Since 1925, the Soviets had allowed her to publish nothing.

Berlin was taken to her apartment and met a woman still beautiful and powerful, but wounded by tyranny and the war. At first, their conversation was restrained. They talked about war experiences and British universities. Visitors came and went.

By midnight, they were alone, sitting on opposite ends of her room. She told him about her girlhood and marriage and her husband’s execution. She began to recite Byron’s “Don Juan” with such passion that Berlin turned his face to the window to hide his emotions. She began reciting some of her own poems, breaking down as she described how they had led the Soviets to execute one of her colleagues.

By 4 in the morning, they were talking about the greats. Pushkin and Chekhov. Turgenev and Dostoyevsky.Deeper and deeper they talked, baring their souls. Akhmatova confessed her loneliness, expressed her passions, spoke about literature and art. 

Berlin finally pulled himself away and returned to his hotel. It was 11 a.m. He flung himself on the bed and exclaimed, “I am in love; I am in love.”

Berlin and Akhmatova were from a culture that assumed that, if you want to live a decent life, you have to possess a certain intellectual scope. You have to grapple with the big ideas and the big books that teach you how to experience life in all its richness and make subtle moral and emotional judgments.

Berlin and Akhmatova could experience that sort of life-altering conversation because they had done the reading. They were spiritually ambitious.

The night also stands as the beau ideal of a certain sort of bond. This sort of love depends on so many coincidences that it only happens once or twice in a lifetime.

If you read the poems Akhmatova wrote about that night, you get the impression that they slept together, but, according to Ignatieff, they barely touched. Their communion was primarily intellectual, emotional and spiritual."

Time In a Bottle (1973), Jim Croce