While trying to process the U.S. presidential election results, I picked up a book of Hafiz poems. I closed my eyes, asked for what I needed to know, and opened at a random page.
Here’s what I got. If you’re like me, you’ll love the beginning and want to throw this blog across the room somewhere in the middle. Just keep reading.
There Could Be Holy Fallout
We are often in battle.
So often defending every side of the fort,
It may seem, all alone.
Sit down, my dear,
Take a few deep breaths,
Think about a loyal friend.
Where is your music,
Your pet, a brush?
Surely one who has lasted as long as you
Knows some avenue or place inside
That can give a sweet respite.
If you cannot slay your panic,
Then say within
As convincingly as you can,
“It is all God’s will!”
Now pick up your life again.
Let whatever is out there
Come charging in,
Laugh and spit into the air,
There could be holy fallout.
Throw those ladders like tiny match sticks
With “just” phantoms upon them
Who might be trying to scale your heart.
Your love has an eloquent tone.
The sky and I want to hear it!
If you still feel helpless
Give our battle cry again
Has shouted it a myriad times,
“It is all,
It is all the Beloved’s will!”
What is that luminous rain I see
All around you in the future
Sweeping in from the east plain?
It looks like, O it looks like
Filling your mouth and palms
Let’s talk about God’s will for a minute because that was the part that made me think, you have got to be kidding, except in slightly stronger language. I tend to think about God’s will in human dimensions, which in election terms would translate to God picked a certain candidate to win. Given that political systems rarely if ever reflect the kind of justice that wisdom traditions describe—regardless of which group is in power—I think it’s safe to say this can’t possibly be what God’s will means.
This poem still speaks to us almost 700 years after it was written because God’s will is always the same. It is self-emptying love, as Richard Rohr would say, the manifestation of love in space and time. We are manifestations of that love, all of us—the people we agree and disagree with, the ones who love us and who hate us, the animals, insects, plants, planets, black holes, etc. “It is all the Beloved’s will!”
Hafiz isn’t recommending submission to situations that injure our hearts and souls. He is urging us to get a wider perspective, to remember that we are all in this together and that there is something larger than human choices and actions moving in and through creation. We can pick any issue we want to divide ourselves over, but in the end it won’t work.
God wills ever greater unity, ever greater love. That’s what we, collectively, are growing toward. We don’t have any choice. That’s what God does, and all of us are manifestations of God.
If we can get clear on this—individually and together—Hafiz tells us, and I agree, that our destination is joy. Bring on the holy fallout.