“The river’s up, after the constant rain we’ve been having lately, and the flood gates beneath the bridge here are open. I’m just going to step away as I’ve no idea of monitoring how loud the background is and if it’s drowning out my voice.
That’ll be the express train heading to Charing Cross in the background. It’s quieter here, the water’s still fast flowing but it’s smooth. There are trout and pike in this river, it’s quite shallow in the Spring and Summer so you can usually just see them, but it’s running deep at the moment.
I’ve been reflecting on some of the comments that were left, some of the conversations that have taken place from previous posts, and they beg the question - can we step out into the world with an open heart and mind, without knowing if it’s safe to do so or if the world will love us back, but risk it anyway?
I try, every day. Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep the heart open, so I offer up a prayer for courage. To me, I’m praying for someone when I hold them in my awareness with fond regard, with love and warmth, without judgement. It’s a wordless form of prayer, but I think of it as an active one, as an energetic response - compassion.
And I pray for myself in the same manner. I sense that compassion is something that is born of me, but also something that is moving through me, creating a sense of expansion within and at the same time connecting me to the infinite expanse that all of our experiences exist within.
This is something I wrote about my reemergence process, following post-traumatic stress. It’s about a deliberate attempt to reconnect to life. I decided to reach out to people who were living in the same Santa Monica neighbourhood as me, but were from a different culture to mine - one that I was familiar with on a surface level, but had no real first hand understanding of. It took some time to work through my resistance, which was mostly born of a fear of being perceived as deeply weird.
I introduced myself to these people as a researcher from a project called Visible from Space, neglecting to mention that I was also someone (that’s the other express train, going to Victoria I think) neglecting to mention that I was also someone who was deeply wounded and confused, searching for a way to feel safe in the world again. Though I’m now sure that was evident to the people I met. My first port of call was to a husband and wife, both Persian musicians, whom I’d known of for some time and I’d seen them perform, some years before…”
On a morning that glittered after rain, I was welcomed into a garden that had a zen-like beauty and then into a kitchen that smelled of sweet, spicy baking and tea scented with roses, prepared in anticipation of my arrival.
We sat and talked of music, of devotional sounds and songs, and the story of the melancholy reed which vibrates to create the distinctive and sorrowful sound of the ney flute. In this tale, the reeds sadness stems from its yearning for the reed bed from which it was cut. This in turn serving as a metaphor for the human longing to reconnect to the source of all things.
I shared that I had heard the call to prayer many times whilst travelling across Morocco, and had heard that same yearning in that sound.
In return, they offered that for them their morning prayer was a reminder to connect to the miracle of the Universe and our existence within it, before joining in with the flow of the day. As the happenings of the day mount that connection can waver, so there is another prayer, and then another, five reminders in total before days end.
Another offering, amongst many, was the simple anecdote of a teacher who tells his student that Sufism had existed long before the first Sufi. When the student asks, “How could this be?”, the teacher responds, “Because there was a man, and he was in love.”
Music by Yoav and Harry Sever
Thanks for reading Visible from Space! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Dearst David, wow. What a beautiful post, this resonate deeply with me..the act of reaching out to others during/after PTSD induced avalanche has been an incridible experience bringing solitude and connection and expansion recently.
I started to attend Friday prayers again a few months ago...the act of sitting with others, the rituals of listening to calming voice of the imam reciting the Koranic verses. The verses which connected me to everyone I was praying with. The act of our arms and feet touching during the actual prayer...we are complete strangers yet sharing a common devotion to the higher being.
I love Rose tea!
Reading it on another train to London and remembering the sense of eternal silence within the pandemonium of early mornings in Udaipur, Rajasthan...
As well as a dream of the echo of countless monks praying under candle light for all of us. For all mortals...