Friday, August 26, 2005

after the final days

When my lost and wretched heart sees your face

Again that heart comes home to its own place.

Should all life pass and not one breath remain,

If she came back, the past would live again.

#644: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: lost

Last night, my son and I watched the final episode (for this season) of the TV series "LOST". It was a huge flop, a huge disappointment, because nothing was revealed, nothing was resolved, and we're left with waiting months to find out what happened. It felt like a betrayal because the word "final" so much suggests that revelation and resolution will occur and, since it didn't, we felt cheated.

The connection today with Rumi is pretty thin except that the theme of being lost or in exile from one's home is archetypal. It lurks forever among the possibilities or potential realities of the day. I can feel lost even when in my own home. I can feel at home one moment and then lose that comfort and security in the next. It is so important to have an abiding symbol, an image or idea, that brings one back to oneself, that brings one back home and back on track. For Rumi, it was the face of his beloved, a beloved that shifts from Shams to a moon goddess to just plain Allah. For me, each morning, it is Rumi through a verse.

The themes today also point to the "Final Days", the day of judgment after all life has ended. We know that individuals live and die but the family, the tribe, the nation, humanity or life on earth lives on. Even so, we now know that families come to an end of their lines, as do tribes and nations, and so too do species like homo sapiens. Once upon a time, there was no life on earth and one day the planet will revert to that state, well before being devoured within our sun's final death throes.

The human imagination has always envisaged a resurrection at the end of life. Even the very primitive or historically early world view of the Australian Aborigines contained this idea. The known world arose out of the original dreamtime and will arise anew after it ends. Thus are ends also always beginnings. No doubt the regular cycle of day-night-day emblazons this idea into our psyches but it is our special talent to take up the theme and apply it to the fire that fuels our lives. Then, as Rumi describes it in this verse, the night and death come to stand for the loss of meaning and the despair that accompany personal trauma, when our safe and comfortable world is shattered. Though it might not seem possible at the time, somehow the human spirit survives and finds new meaning among the lifeless remains of one's world.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 (KJV)

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,

And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.



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