Friday, March 13, 2009

Family Resemblances

Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:

Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide

Return and back into your Sun subside

My Oregon daughter, pictured here photographing the two of us reflected in a mirror at a hotel on one of our annual Thanksgiving trips, will be on spring break this week, so she made plans to visit her sister in Vermont. Originally her intent was to take a series of redeye flights, leaving out of Portland last night, but she called shortly after her plane was scheduled to leave to tell us she had missed her flight.

The problem was not that she was late getting to the airport; she had actually arrived early. But seeing there was no one at the gate, she decided to get something to drink and settle down to read for a while, got totally engrossed in the text, and only came to to discover the plane had left without her.

I was frantic when she called -- partly because an old friend of ours who had probably gone to bed hours ago (he's on East Coast time) was scheduled to pick her up in the morning. But mostly because her plan was to spend the night in the airport, which didn't seem particularly safe or wise. I passed the phone to her father -- who is a very clear thinker in a crisis, unlike me -- and I went downstairs to meditate and calm myself so she wouldn't have to deal with my anxiety on top of her own.

Fortunately he convinced her to check into a hotel for the night, so when she called again to tell us which hotel she was heading for I was able to be cheerful and encouraging. For those of you who think I should have yelled and screamed at her for being so stupid, I can only say that I had just finished reading a passage in Jesus the Teacher Within (I may have even written about this last week) which pointed out quite clearly that sin pretty much always carries its own karma and punishment with it and that guilt, whether applied from outside or rising up within, is fairly pointless. Clearly this was one mistake she would suffer from, and remember the rest of her life; there was no point in my adding to her pain.

So we were chatting fairly calmly at this point, and then she happened to mention that the book that had engrossed her so completely is a 250-page Sufi poem by Farid ud-Din Attar called "Conference of the Birds." Apparently she's reading it for a course in Islamic religion, but she was fascinated by it, and was writing notes all over the margins -- which was apparently why she missed the plane. I had to laugh -- this is clearly a case of the apple not falling far from the tree!

I've not heard of this poem, but I looked it up on the Internet, and Wikipedia tells me the verse quoted above is its most famous verse. I love it: it perfectly captures that longing to return to Source, which is also Light.

And now it is morning, and she's made it past the first standby barrier; she's on a flight to Chicago and hopefully will make the flight from there to Albany. Her time with her sister will be shorter, but at least they'll have a chance to connect. She'll write her essay on the plane, or sleep, and in the words of Dame Julian of Norwich:

All shall be well
and all shall be well
and all manner of thing shall be well.

Time for Mom to go take a nap: it's been a long night!


Anonymous said...

Oh no oh no! It's "Farid" ud-Din Attar! XD

Thanks for not yelling at me =P

Diane Walker said...

Sorry -- a friend had already told me; I found your note just after I fixed it! Hope you have a great weekend...


Unknown said...

I love the photo, and it's such a true teaching story for all of could have been any of us! It's wonderful that she was engrossed in literature (and not an iPod, game system, etc.). Thank you for sharing it. Bon Voyage, KC!

Jan said...

That's a wonderful picture. What a stressful day/trip!