An aurora borealis , a nebula , an ocean…each are natural wonders that come to mind when I close my eyes and consider something without edges.
What prompted these visuals was a poem by Rumi.
The clear bead
at the center changes everything.
There are no edges
to my loving now
You’ve heard it said
that there’s a window
that opens From one mind to another.
But if there’s no wall, there’s no need For fitting the window, or the latch.
No ‘edges’ to his loving now….something awesome to consider, incomprehensible in ways unless I consider things without edges…and ponder what it could possibly mean to actually love without limits or barriers or rough edges of any kind.
In considering an ocean, for example, I was reminded of my childhood fantasies spending countless hours of imaginative glee at the beach. I’d stare out across the ocean, as far as my eyes could gaze and pretend to see the other shore with an imaginary friend staring back at me. Once our eyes met, we bonded for the afternoon and dove into the sand for hours of sandcastle building.
No matter the seeming ‘edges’ of time, space, let alone the vastness of the ocean, no matter any language or cultural barrier (who knew of such things then?), I played with her numerous times, building up a sense of trust and familiarity with her, albeit in my imagination. And one day, I agreed to race her in digging a passageway to crawl through so we could traverse from shore to shore and actually build a masterpiece together!
Just recalling this memory, reminded me how easy it was as a child to imagine the possibilities, let alone, consider the depths I was willing to go to embrace an unknown girl, no matter she was a figment of my day dream. But had I felt the reality of the vastness of the Atlantic or doubted whether we’d really become friends, had I created any barriers or ‘edges’ to our potential to enrich each other’s lives, countless hours of imagination would have been lost. One might say it was my ability to love without edges, without inhibitions, that birthed the wonder of those afternoons.
Flash forward thirty years to today, I can’t say I’ve done any sort of imagining new friends. In fact, I’ve poured so much of my thoughts into my work the past few years, I am embarrassed to admit how long it’s been since I sat and gazed up at the limitless heavens or out across the shores, let alone aimed to love without barriers. Or have I?
Well, for days now I’ve pondered this line:
No edges to my loving….
No borders barring out anyone to my heart.
No preconceived notions or judgments about another’s significance, worth or meaning in spite of any outward appearances, upbringing, or economic status.
No discounting the possible impact another can have on my life.
No comparing myself to peers and judging who’s progressing/who’s not.
No falling victim to others’ judgments of me or giving it right back to them (in thought) when we hang up the phone.
Of course I’m barely skimming the surface of all the meaning of that line. And I will never know what enabled Rumi to pen such.
But I do know that as far as the layers I’m trying to shed (to begin to address questions I posed in a former post), one of the things I’ve surely outgrown is this sizing up of another life solely based on an exterior, material summation of one’s character.
Talk about edges!
But it wasn’t so long ago I created edges — judgments, labels—and placed people into different camps in my mind. And I did this strictly out of sizing up who may or may not be interested in my spiritual healing practice. I also did it too out of a sense of who would be supportive and who wouldn’t. But it doesn’t matter. Reasons aside, I was still judging and creating massive edges to my heart.
There were those who were approachable and those I felt would be a complete waste of time, those who intimidated me, those who seemed a lost cause, those who were in between, those I’d be judged for associating with, those who I thought were cool and wanted to impress. Yuck. It’s horrible to think of what I did in thought, all in the name of sharing brotherly love. Gimme a huge break! Sounds pretty highschool, ‘cept i was well into my 30s. It’s disgusting how many lives I’ve barred out of my heart on the simple grounds of some false assumption of their character.
And then I had a complete wake up call to how judgemental I was being.
I started volunteering at a couple of different homeless shelters in Boston. I thought it was a noble thing to do. When I look back, I think I wanted to feel good about myself. Nothing wrong in that. But I’m sure I felt above such sufferings to some degree, maybe ‘removed’ is a better way to say it. I’ve never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from, always had a roof over my head, etc. Granted, my past is filled with a ton of emotional upheavals but nothing comparable to living in an abusive relationship or on the streets. Those issues seemed foreign to my sense of life.
But in the shelter, serving meals to the guests who lived there, I faced a rude awakening. These women did not shun me. They didn’t size me up and act like I was little miss suburbian comfortable life. They surely didn’t diss me by walking away, turning their heads or snuffing me off.
They remembered my name within the first hour, and embraced me in welcome. Most I served acknowleged me in some small way, either by making eye contact, speaking directly to me, or offering a thank you. Others invited me to sit with them, talk with them, tell me about my life. Many actually listened, wanting to know more about my work.
Week after week I felt in a sense ‘at home’ with these women who I’d supposed I’d have nothing in common with. Yet week after week, I’d drive off feeling guilty in my SUV and just cry myself silly. I ached over our apparent economic differences. I yearned for them to have safe, affordable housing and other provisions that regrettably I’d always taken for granted. I wanted them to have loving families to turn to as I’d always had. But most of all I felt horrible for believing for a moment that our supposed superficial differences would create an untraversible distance between us.
Over the next year, these women taught me much about human kindness and being authentic. Their treatment of me help me lose my insecurities of them. Imagine that. Many may never know what a catalyst they were in helping me lose the barriers I’d built up between myself and others.
From that point forward, I resolved to rid my life of anything separating me from the ability to connect with my fellow man. Back then, this meant actually ridding my life of a lot of stuff I just didn’t need, peripheral creature comforts. Today, I’m continuing this cleansing by breaking down the edges or insecurities built up in thought.
What is interesting to me is that though I always thought I sought the good in another, striving to dig deep to find another’s strengths, these women showed me I’d hardly dug beneath the surface. Maybe now they’re my friends challenging me to ‘dig deeper and meet on their shore’ as I’d invited my imaginary friend across the Atlantic to do with me as a child.
I have a tear in my eye as I’m writing this. They will never know how much they’ve taught me to love without edges.
I’ve barely touched on this topic and wish to share more about what other lessons I’m gleaning from pondering this poem. So stay tuned for the next post.
Peace to you and be well, Tre ☺