It’s easy to think I have made a breakthrough, put the pieces together just right, as if I were a scientist grappling with and making plain the mysteries of salvation. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to conjure an image of myself twirling a dry erase marker in one hand and sloshing a cup of coffee absentmindedly in the other while pacing back and forth in front of wall-to-wall white boards. On them are scribbled the equations of forgiveness and a few inequalities describing the asymptotic approach to Love a self-concept can make, without ever really getting there. In addition there are the experiments, the managed encounters of my life, efforts to prove or disprove the theories, but these are almost always indeterminate. I can always second guess myself– admit that I had unrealistic expectations, expectations period, was in my head, or didn’t pull off the loving clarity of purpose and Self-expression I intended.
The situation is a little bit like the one a geologist faces: one planetary body of evidence, a subject not of the human scale, and no way to control the independent variables, really. Maybe it was a comet or an asteroid. Maybe the caldera beneath the area we call Yellowstone National Park blew up. Maybe it was aliens. Maybe all three. What we can say with certainty is that the dinosaurs no longer roam the Earth. The rest of it we can keep pushing around on the plate until we’re excused from the table.
And then the real breakthrough comes, shatters a mindset that has become engorged with contraposed thoughts like a fjord packed with ramshackle chunks of shattered glaciers that is struck by a comet. Hafiz enters the building, puts his finger to his lips, pulls the fire alarm, and we sprint like hell across the parking lot to hide in the trees and see what comes next.
What are we doing? I ask, breathless.
An experiment, he replies. Keep up.
Then he sprints off into the forest with me stumbling along behind, exuberant as a puppy. I know I could get fired for this– abandoning my post, the equations only half writ, the on-line students rebooting their routers or smacking their monitors back home, the front door open, the fire alarm pouring out through every opening in the building like a defective dog whistle, but… what the hell. My thoughts were tripping over themselves anyway.
* * * * *
Words. Those little buggers can be our defeat. And formed of words, logic. What does it really mean that we’re experiencing an illusion? What does it mean that the world could be transformed by our acceptance and expression of unity? Are we trying to forgive everything and find peace so we don’t have to come back to this type of world? So this type of world becomes more bearable? So we can escape our pain? If we were really awake, would we be different? What?
Hafiz wants to trade experiences, not speak in code– not communicate through any medium that relies upon rules in order to contain a meaning. He wants to put a sunrise into your chest, to have you step into the auditorium of his heart and play the concerto of who you are.
* * * * *
The questions inside us are notorious for demanding a written answer. That is their tactic. How can we proceed, they tell us, if we don’t know what’s happening? …if we don’t know what this is, or how to fix it? Explain that. Whoa! they shout. Time out! Everyone just settle down until we get this figured out here.
When that question comes slinking around, it’s head bobbing along the outside of your house, passing in view from one window to the next, insanely circling, take a moment to realize you’re as big as the whole sky. You don’t have to peer out at the blue beyond through streaky windows. Take a deep breath and recline for a moment at the center of the sun. Try to imagine what Jesus felt like just before he rolled up into a seated position, hopped down off the stone, and walked out of the tomb. Then ask your questions if they think they’re ready for the big time. Snap off a few jabs in their general direction. Stay on the balls of your feet. Thwop! Thwop!
Here’s something else you could always try if this is all seeming a tad unreasonable: call up Jesus and tell him you want a refund. Just tell him whatever it was he did, it didn’t work. Explain to him your situation. I did it once and eventually I realized… I don’t know where he ends and I begin. Then I realized… I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.
That’ll at least turn your prose into poetry.
And then you’ll go around town for days at a time whispering in the ear of everyone you meet… you don’t need to see any identification… these aren’t the words you’re looking for.