invited you to a party and
“Everyone in the ballroom tonight will
be my special
how would you then treat them when you arrived?
And Hafiz knows that there is no one in
this world who is not standing upon
His jeweled dance
Trans. by Daniel Ladinsky
In recent weeks dragonflies, butterflies, and occasionally a hummingbird have floated alongside me for part of my regular neighborhood walk. That always sparks childlike delight within me. Yesterday as I walked in our neighborhood, a shadow traveled beside me. It was only for a few steps, yet long enough for me to try to ascertain my visceral response from among some of these possibilities: fear, indifference, curiosity, etc.
Oddly, the shadow generated a feeling of comfort. It enlivened my awareness of belonging to this small part of the planet where I know the undulations and curvatures of the land. It is much different here from the land where I was raised and will always be my true home. There, pure openness of the prairie expands in all directions, with wild winds and ever-changing displays in the sky of colors, clouds, and constellations. That is living on the vast Great Plains of North America. Here, along the coastal west, redwood trees and ferns give way to the wetland grasses along waterways flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
I’d like to believe that more and more humans are beginning to remember our elemental belongingness not only with one another but with all beings – large and small. Our embodiment is delicately woven of the earthly nutrients, warmth and energy of the sun, patterns of the moon, fluidity of the waters, and grace of the air and space that holds all. There are the words “kind” and “kin” at the end of the name for our species, beautifully speaking to our innate nature of reciprocity and interrelationship and capacity for compassion.
I was feeling a sense of kinship with my companion shadow. With its wings evenly stretched to the sides around a perfectly oval core, it glided alongside me. There was a warm feeling of being shown how to tune inward and synchronize with the harmony that was already pulsing inside me, as well as around me. This was a neighborhood crow. Within those few seconds of its presence, I too was gliding and feeling the inseparability and wholeness of the universe, and belonging.
Perhaps this is the divine universality and equality that poets like Hafiz gracefully nudge us to remember through their poetic elegance. Whether it is the crow, some other part of nature, or Hafiz’s timeless words of wisdom, I welcome reminders to live and move with more awareness, reverence and gratitude for each morsel of life. I hope you will join me.
This short practice supports childlike playfulness
- Standing, loosely shake out your limbs one at a time. For example, relax your right arm and shake it out and move it about for thirty seconds or so. Then, move on to your right leg.
- Take your time.
- If you have injuries, please take care and adjust these movements to support your well-being.
- Then, rotate each of your wrists and ankles, ending with a slow rolling of your chin downward from one side to the other.
- Still standing, stretch your arm to the sides, opening up your palms and breathing in deeply. On an exhale allow your arms to slowly relax to your sides. Continue let your arms open up like the wings of a bird on an inhalation and relax on an exhalation two more times.
- Again, please take care if you have any joint issues.
- With your arms continuing to gracefully move like wings, allow yourself to glide around the room or whatever space you are in, letting your footsteps be light and playful.
- Continue this for as long as is comfortable, improvising and spontaneously following your playful inspirations.
- When you are ready, imagine you are coming to rest on a branch.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Find a comfortable seated position. Slowly allow your breath to settle down.
- Sit quietly for as long as is comfortable.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem is from Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 95, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. Photo from the Getty collection on iStock. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2021.
Fall Online Classes!!
Support Wisdom In Your Life–9/9-30, 3 Thursdays (no class 9/16), 3:10-4:30 p.m. PT, $70
Pathways to Peace: Truthfulness, Compassion, and Other Universal Principles–10/19-11/16, 5 Tues., 3:10-4:30 p.m. PT, $80.
Registration through College of Marin Community Education – (415) 485-9305