Some days, we lose touch with our essential aliveness, with the source of our power and agency in the world. And on these darker days it can be helpful to be reminded of the possibility and life that’s always surrounding us, of which we’re always inescapably a part – however separated we might feel.
One source of help in this that I’ve found particularly valuable is the work of the fourteenth-century poet Hafiz, particularly in the beautiful English translations by Daniel Landinsky.
Landinsky’s book A Year with Hafiz offers one poem a day for the entire year, and each is a tightly packed jewel – often uplifting, searching, frequently challenging, always loving. A wonderful resource for any of us who aspire to live fully in life.
Here’s one of his poems for this weekend, a reminder of the costs of the defences we put up between ourselves and the world:
That Shield You Hold
There is a shield you may still hold because of
so many battles.
I guess another conflict could begin at any moment,
so maybe lugging it about could be of some use;
or is it just an undermining habit?
Does it not get heavy, so much that you
sometimes carry it on your head at noon?
And then do wonder, with your insecurities so
intact… about casting darkness as fears can
even if the sun is out, if the Sun is out – if God
is really all around in the middle of a beautiful
day or night.
Yes, how amazing that a small umbrella or an
illusion, held over your head… or clung to, can
hide the stupendous fact of omniscient Light.