Hafiz is one of my all-time favorite humans. As the blanket of fear and crisis has settled over the globe, I have been thinking of this Hafiz poem. As you read, know that Hafiz uses the terms Love, the Beloved, and God to refer to the Higher Power of His Understanding. That’s one of the reasons I love him; he has opened my eyes to so many tender ways to understand who God is.
Tired of Speaking Sweetly
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.
-Translation by Daniel Ladinsky, The Gift, p.188
I smile to myself every time I read this poem, because I recognize this knock-down drag-out with God. That is certainly the way my own spiritual progress has looked. I have clung to my ideas and my own concept of my identity so tightly that truly God had to drag me around the room by my hair. The biggest transformations in my life have come through betrayal trauma recovery, through my greatest pain…and not without much kicking and screaming on my part.
As I consider my own bumpy journey towards growth, I may shudder at my relentless mishaps and magnetic character defects, but I have to give myself props for one thing. Willingness.
I have been willing to lock myself in a room with the Beloved, and stare myself in the face, which was at one time a most terrifying prospect. I have been willing to see what is holding me back, what toys I am still clinging to that are keeping me from joy. I have been willing to accept that pain is the pathway to progress. I have been willing to work my own recovery.
As we all hunker down in the midst of a highly-politicized pandemic, I am trying to ask myself on a daily basis: am I willing to see the opportunity here? Which self-defeating toys am I still hiding in my pockets?
Do I have the courage to take the pause and sit with the quiet stirrings of my own heart, or am I desperately grasping for some way to hightail it out of town? For a project to throw myself into or a distraction to take me anywhere but where I am?
For some of us, this pandemic carries us into profound loss. For others, it has simply carried us into boredom. For all of us, it has challenged us to stay positive amidst frustrations of so many circumstances beyond our control.
Recovery is about learning to move through difficulty with Grace, of transcending suffering to realize the Divine in our daily living. As we work our own Steps during this unique circumstance, may we allow God to shake out our pockets, and rid ourselves of another layer of nonsense that keeps us blind.
If we are stuck in a house with a partner who is acting out or in addict behavior, we must remember that holding boundaries is our best protection and our crucial responsibility. Boundaries are intended to keep us safe, to give us a choice when we feel that our choice has been taken from us.
When we have lost our serenity, we MUST be able to answer the question, what is my boundary for this?
We must have a concrete action plan that enables us to do the following:
- detach from our partner’s behavior
- reach out to a sponsor and feel connected
- feel serenity and find grounding with a Higher Power of our Understanding
Sometimes our most important work is to let go of the desire to control or rescue another person. Sometimes we must recognize that God is dragging our loved one by their hair, and our job is to get out of the way and attend to our own safety and serenity.
When God is tired of speaking sweetly, there is one thing we know for sure. There is always an opportunity for growth. Pain is the pathway to progress.
Wherever you are at in your recovery, don’t waste this opportunity to clean out your pockets. Let go and let God give you or the one you love a good dropkick.
Work your recovery. Do your dailies. Don’t run away from this moment. Pain has always been the pathway to progress.