Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Those Divine Animals

This was the view from my classroom window yesterday; I just had to go out at lunch time and capture it with my camera (to share with you, of course!)

And then, this morning, I found myself wondering what on earth I could say about this photo... And it seems like there are two ways I could go. The first is that I remember my husband's boss in NH, years ago -- a died-in-the-wool New Yorker -- sneering a bit at the thought that his daughter had elected to move out here. I think she actually moved to Portland, but it was clear he thought Seattle and Portland were interchangeable -- and equally laughable.

Never mind the delightful climate, or the bodies of water and the views, or the proliferation of successful hi-tech companies: it was clear he was judging this particular book by its cover, and not looking beneath the surface -- a mistake we all can make.

But what I really love about these two Seattle icons actually IS their giddiness, their laughability, their creativity: I mean, what would we be without them? Just another ordinary city... although, of course, we'd still have the Toe Truck... Seattleites must be the kinds of people who come up with crazy ideas like these, and Seattle must be the sort of place that welcomes them.

I'm not certain I would have thought about that before yesterday, but it seems that in Antioch Seattle I've found a wellspring of folks who are willing to be creative, open, and inclusive; willing to ask the hard questions and take risks -- it seems to be the prevailing climate there. Is it because they see these bizarre objects every day? Do these crazy icons encourage openness and creativity, humor and risk? I don't think we can go that far -- but I do think those divine animals Hafiz was describing in yesterday's poem have an invitation to take flight in this place. And how fun is that?

Those animals came up again in my Hafiz reading this morning (I'm just walking through (again) The Gift, Daniel Ladinsky's translations of poems by Hafiz, the great Sufi Master). I love these poems, and there are probably more downturned pages in this book than not. But here's the one that seemed to tie most nicely with yesterday's divine animals. It's called "A Crystal Rim."

Lifts its glass to the sun
And light -- light
Is poured.

A bird
comes and sits on a crystal rim
And from my forest cave I
Hear singing.

So I run to the edge of existence
And join my soul in love.

I lift my heart to God
And grace is poured.

An emerald bird rises from inside me
And now sits
Upon the Beloved's

I have left that dark cave forever.
My body has blended with His.

I lay my wing
As a bridge to you

So that you can join us

And now I see that the Space Needle -- in this picture at least -- looks a bit like the glass, being lifted to the sun. Perhaps there IS a bird sitting on its crystal rim, beckoning us to love. But I especially resonate with those last four lines of the poem: I feel like that could be a life's mission -- to lift my wing as a bridge to you, so that you can join us, singing...

1 comment:

Maureen said...

I know few people who could so creatively tie as you do here an image of a Seattle icon or two and a poem by Hafiz (which I love.) Just great!