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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Walking in my chosen highway

Friday morning the morning air was full of ice crystals--a million tiny crystals floating haphazardly in all directions like a frenzy of insects, wings sparks of sunlight in motion. The blue shadows of trees arced their long, willowy blue arms across a bed of freshly fallen snow. Outside the wind's percussion played through the branches of bare trees. Snow slowly melted, dripped, re-froze--a tiny drumbeat of ice to water to ice.

Later in the afternoon as shadows began to pull chunks of heavy hues between buildings, I made my way downtown to my favourite German bakery, Leonhard's for a hot drink and some time to write in my journal. Leonhard's is all fairy lights and birch trees. I settled in a corner seat and watched as the soft flakes that had been wet against my cheeks a moment earlier on the pavement began to fall heavier and more steadily. I was thinking about joy. About how to hold it close in my mind and heart most especially when things are not going how I think I would like them to go.

I came across this story recently that described some advice that Abdu'l-Baha, the son of Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith, gave to Lua Getsinger, an early North American Baha'i during one of her visits to the Middle East. He told her: "Thou must be firm and unshakable in thy purpose, and never, never let any outward circumstances worry thee. I am sending thee to India to accomplish certain definite results. Thou must enter that country with a never-failing spirituality, a radiant faith, an eternal enthusiasm, an inextinguishable fire, a solid conviction, in order that thou mayest achieve those services for which I am sending thee. Let not thy heart be troubled. If thou goest away with this unchanging condition of invariability of inner state, thou shalt see the doors of confirmation open before thy face, thy life will be a crown of heavenly roses, and thou shalt find thyself in the highest station of triumph.

Strive day and night to attain to this exalted state. Look at me! Thou dost not know a thousandth part of the difficulties and seemingly insurmountable passes that rise daily before my eyes. I do not heed them: I am walking in my chosen highway."

I love this quote because it is quite clear from it that Abdu'l-Baha was very definitely walking his chosen highway both during the tough times and the joyful times. He was walking in his CHOSEN highway during the tough times. It is hard to recognize that we are always walking in our chosen highway whether times are happy or sad, stressful or relaxing, easy or hard. It is easier to believe that when we are walking through tough times we are not on our chosen highway -- that somehow God or fate or some other power is dragging us, kicking and screaming down a highway that we most certainly DID NOT choose--a highway that is NOT our will. What I realize in reading the quote above is that Abdu'l-Baha can honestly say that he is always walking in his chosen highway because he has recognized and fully accepted a truth that I will be working on for the rest of my life: that the only way to know with absolute certainty that one is walking one's chosen highway is to bring one's will completely into line with the will of God so that there is no separation, no distinction between what we want in our lives and what God wants. All that is left for us to do then is to find and share the joy that is always within us with those around us irrespective of the circumstances we are living through. I am not saying that is easy--it is hard as hell. But there is something beautiful about being able to align one's will with a larger will, and step back from what is happening around you and see it for what it is: a passing state that need not influence your inner joy or peace.

I have been working on all of this the past couple of weeks. I arrived on Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada on December 28th hoping to find a way to stay. It may happen yet. I am praying it does. But in the meantime I have a departure ticket for February 14th and a great deal of uncertainty about what comes after that date. In the past this reality would have caused me a great deal of anxiety. But in the light of this quote above, which I have been reading multiple times throughout the day over the last week, whenever I notice myself starting to get anxious about all of the uncertainty in my life right now I am able to consciously focus on letting it go....focus instead on the only thing I really do have control over: how I respond. It is an interesting process, but what I am finding is that being more conscious to remain joyful even through the uncertainty is helping me to realize how ridiculous worrying about whether I manage to stay or not is, because no matter how hard I work on finding work here, ultimately the outcome of this adventure I am on is completely and utterly out of my hands, and no amount of worry is going to put my fate in my hands. Fortunately (for me and everyone else!) I am not in control of the fates. That is for a power much larger than me to take care of.

I am sitting here by the fire typing this. My hosts have gone to bed. The house is quiet. The streets in this part of town are also quiet at this time of night. The silence of a cold winter night has settled upon the street. Soon I will head up to bed and lie in the stillness listening to the wind outside. Being here is like being enveloped in a very long, very good dream. For however long it lasts -- a few more weeks or longer--I feel incredibly blessed to be here on this beautiful island surrounded by so many people I love. What a gift this winter journey has been. What a blessing it continues to be with every new day!

Have a superb week, friends!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful writing, beautiful thoughts and images. I especially like the reaching blue arms and the pulling chunked hues! Love, mom