As we stand on the threshold of a New Year, I’d like to share some reflections about where we’ve been and where we go from here.
Rumi writes about the sorrow of the reed that was cut from its reed bed:
“The one who becomes distanced from his roots
Seeks to return to the days of his union.”
Mystical teachings often speak of the soul’s desire to return to the state of unity it experienced before its ‘exile’ on this earth. During the pandemic, as months have turned now to years, we have seen a disappointing turn to tribalism, to a splintering of people into groups formed for the purpose of opposing and excluding others. I believe that seeking a sense of unity within this kind of limited group is a distorted reflection of the soul’s desire to return to its celestial home. When what constitutes one’s ‘tribe’ moves beyond the limited circles of my family, my neighbourhood, my country, my ethnic group, and compassionately embraces our human family and the life of the planet, then we can perhaps find the beauty and pass the test Mahatma Gandhi spoke of when he said:
“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.”
You know me to be a lover of traditional music and I am that, not just because of the beauty of the music, but because of the ways of knowing and being that most traditions encapsulate, and that their music expresses. The pandemic has presented us with a great challenge. It’s not the only one facing us now, and its waning certainly won’t signal an end to all difficulties. I see the inevitable challenges that are part of life in this world as opportunities to respond ever more compassionately, to dive deep into the sources of wisdom the traditions of the world have given us over centuries and to bring out from them strategies and attitudes that will serve us well in our time.
I sometimes hear from those who have lost hope. For my part, I remain optimistic, not blindly so, but I believe that it’s our response to every situation that provides meaning and fulfilment. There is much light around us; it can be found if we search for it. There are people now in every quarter who are doing brilliant and inspiring work on levels both outer and inner. It’s my wish that we find them and join them, or that we become one of them ourselves. I believe they are the ‘suns’ Rumi speaks of:
“Go not to the quarter of despair for there is hope.
Go not towards darkness for there are suns.”
Wishing everybody a beautiful 2022!