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« Maria Simonds-Gooding | Main | La Vierge Noir »

Sailing to Byzantium

What lost city from a vanished time shall we search for?

A caravansary along the Silk Road...or an Assyrian trading colony

...or perhaps the oldest city of them all, still buried somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates?

Or perhaps like Yeats we should wish that “Once out of nature…” we might never again take “bodily form from any natural thing,”

…but instead be “gathered into the artifice of eternity” and sail off for Byzantium.

Or “perne in a gyre”

…we could enter the Blue Mosque.

Or isn’t teeming Istanbul quite enough, straddling the Bosphorus, one foot in Europe, and the rest of the body leaning towards Asia?

Does one image or culture always have to try to efface another

…or can they sometimes exist side-by-side

…even if you have to call Hagia Sophia a museum to brook the argument about what cross-cut of time – basilica or mosque – should identify it now?

Or perhaps we should be looking for a city in and out of time.

From here, the energy is all facing east anyway, towards the apse

…and towards Mecca all at once

…and so towards the rising sun.

And if you’re like me, you can only raise your eyes intermittently to meet a gaze like this,

…but each time you do, you learn another aspect of yourself.

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality,” T.S. Eliot says -- and so sometimes we even efface the eyes.

But enough of this. We’ll make another start.

We’ll get a haircut and a shave

…and ritually cleanse ourselves

…and then lay back and wait to see what happens next.

Don’t worry.

We’re already being led.

And if it’s not leading us to really do something for our neighbor, let’s turn off the news of economic blues awhile.

Let’s open our hearts and homes instead.

Wasn’t it decades of self-serving that brought us to this pass anyway?

“Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking,” Rumi says.

Let’s look for him instead.

Let a local potter

…help you turn the clay of yourself

…into a beautiful new shape.

The only requirement is that you center it.

And you already have that native skill.

“There is a community of the spirit,” Rumi also says.

“Join it, and feel the delight…”

So let’s find the cave of our own heart

…and make sure it’s big enough for all.

Reader Comments (1)

The Celebration of Life for our dear Marilyn Sarasvati Carstens was punctuated by Rumi's poetry, and, in the background, was this lovely piece by your friend Lynn Nesbit. The threads which connect us are so much stronger than those which would divide us (both us and US!)
You demonstrate an appropriate response to the desecration of Christ's face---seeking to understand, from your personal experience. Beautiful.
The Eastern mosques have a feature called "muquarna" ---geometrically sculpted arches with the structural integrity of honeycombs and an appearance of exquisite delicacy. They may be challenging to photograph because they're near the ceilings of these structures, but if you get a chance---go for it, Deb Deb!!
I re-read these blogs because they are SO rich and multi-layered. I know my first take is just a gloss. We're gonna get a book outa this!
Love you, and hope the water heater prob. is solved!!

March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDisai

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