Musa Muhaiyaddeen (E. L. Levin), direct disciple of Sufi Mystic and teacher Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, honored the audience with poems from his “snapshot of epiphanies” that take us along the path of discovering that there is more than we have been told or believed to be true: Once I believed in this world and its hallucinating swirl As if it could feed me through all eternity So many lies I have now discovered But I have not yet recovered from all the lies I have swallowed that are still here inside of me
The ember glows unseen Millions pass this tiny fire it is capable of igniting a spark that can consume your ignorance and lay waste to your conceptions it can blaze a pathway through all the universes but alas, it is hidden in the nondescript, unworthy of your attention John Fox, poet and certified poetry therapist, illuminated the hearts and minds of seekers through a presentation on “Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making”. John shared his work at the California Men’s Colony Prison in San Luis Obispo Prison last year, where he was invited by the Director Of Spiritual Care of a hospice volunteer program to work with 50 volunteer life-prisoners on poetry and making poems. These men, as he articulated, were difficult to introduce to poetry given their predicament---being companions of inmates or sitting with men at the hospice who are ill, dying, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and Dementia. But these men had a strong focus in their lives, to be present in both worlds. He explained: “such intimate work puts a person in touch with profound images and at times, edgelessness. There is a wall of vulnerability...finding the willingness for the heart to break, to find out how it may even break open. How to learn to be with what cannot be changed...open to a humility of knot knowing...and then to be those allies of openness 79
Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 1
and humility...and surrender. I chose poems to serve as prompts, and examples, poems that held and expressed energies of grief and loss, a desire to connect especially when there is intense pain, a fear of letting go...mercy of acceptance...a longing for the far shore. A poem by Harold, one of the CMC volunteers he worked with, says it all about the power of poetry as medicine: Listen
If I breakdown and fall to my knees, The pain comes from somewhere really deep, If I shudder and quake, If I have looked at my fear, my terror in the face, If I sob and wail, I’ve come to grips with my loss, if only briefly, and had to release something cherished, I will not hide this from you, I will not wall it off, I will let you see the deepest part of me California-born and internationally-acclaimed sufi poet, essayist, and librettist, Daniel AbdalHayy Moore, enlightened the hungry souls in the audience with several moving readings from his poetry collection including, the “Knot of Gold”: The Prophet took people of abject poverty and strewed rubies at their feet There was no glass in the Prophet’s windows for any brick to break In each heart, he ties a knot of gold whose two ends make eternities radiant reclining figure eight, gazed upon by God We can stand in the door he made in our being or stride through it into God’s presence. The Prophet never rode out on his she-camel but that they longed for his return
A journal for people of the heart.