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Naomi Rose : Writing What Can Be Said...

Writing What Can Be Said; and Writing What Can't Be Said

Why We Need to; Why We're Called to

By Naomi Rose

Not long ago, I was going through one of those times ~ transformational, one hopes, rather than just debilitating ~ when the very roots of my assumptions about myself were being shaken. To have been told, as I had by an exceedingly wise spiritual teacher, that transformation did pry loose one's self-identities, in the course of opening one to the larger Being within, was the only mooring I could cling to, as wave after wave of loss of self-image washed over me.

Something inside ~ that place that can witness, despite the turmoil being experienced and so deeply felt ~ took note of both the process of ego-dishevelment and the contents rising up: primal contents, never consciously known before or willingly brought forth in what I had hoped was the steady soup of myself. Theories about some of my lifelong patterns, too stuck to the bottom to ordinarily be visible, jounced through my mind: I must have been a forceps-delivery baby, brought forth before I was quite ready (and accounting for my tendencies to feel pulled along too fast, even when I was the one doing the pushing, and to arrive places late). I must have been left in my crib, cold and hungry and wet, to cry, and no one came. There was, of course, no way to prove any of this, no alive parent to ask. But there had to be something to account for that hole at the bottom of things, despite my accomplishments and development in life and in the world.

To feel what has been called "pre-verbal" feelings, when you are beyond middle age and known to the world and yourself to be articulate, is to be humbled into the realization that one is no better than anyone else, and perhaps at base no different. It is not that there is no point in striving for some of what we are encouraged to strive for ~ even worldly success, I have read on good spiritual authority, develops highly useful inner qualities (endurance, persistence, and so on) that can be put to use on other levels as well. It is that in allowing our exclusive focus to be on success in the world ~ whether as an entrepreneur (which I am), a creative person (which I am), the author of a book (which I am), or a self-improved version of the original self ~ apparently takes us away from the real focus of why we are here on earth, and who, in actuality, we are. The inner tsunami/earthquake/hurricane of an upsurge of preverbal self-lessness at least temporarily reveals as a fiction the persona of being on top of things all the time, having it all together, and being a separate being. We share in the universality of being, whether we experience it through the narrow door of personal suffering, or the illuminated door of belonging to everything. And sometimes, the narrow door leads to the illuminated one.

That was my experience, within a single day. While feeling like an emptiness wearing clothing, an insoluble question convinced of no response (because from that cold, wet, hungry, abandoned, dependent infant place, there had been none), I took myself to a spiritual celebration: the presence of the 22nd-generation granddaughter of the "best-selling poet of our time," the 13th-century mystic Jelal ad-Din Rumi. I came with my emptiness, and sat amidst women, men, and children. A beautiful, stately young girl had greeted me at the door, offered to anoint my wrist with rose perfume. Sitting in the large room; seeing and feeling the love there; watching the babies rest in their mothers' arms, wriggle happily to greet a neighbor; hearing the drone of the droning instrument and the melody played on top of that by the strings, I felt I could be there with my emptiness and there would be room for me, and for it inside me.

We sat. I listened, as a loving welcome was spoken in a voice resonant and bass. I came to remember that there was nothing I had to make myself do; that when I could be here with my heart, whatever lovely or strange gifts it brought up from its bottomless well, there was no way I could not belong. The painful separation was internal, and could also be repaired from within.

Breathing, I stood; I danced; I turned around, centered in my heart, turned like the planets in the sky. And I noticed how my heart began to return to me, how it became the center of my being and my point of viewing; how that was what I had been hungry for, and had mistakenly thought (as old, preverbal feelings rose up) that the remedy had to come from outside.

And at the end, we formed a long circle, and each one of us passed each one standing in and forming the circle. As we passed, we paused. We extended our hand, grasped the other's in it like a loving fist, and at the same moment kissed each other's hand. I had never come across this greeting before, and I was taken with it. You got to bring your settling-down heart into your eyes, to use that gaze to see and even bless the person across from you, and at the same moment to place your lips on the outer rim of their hand, linked to the outer rim of your hand, which they were bringing their lips to in the same moment. There was something so immediate, so beautiful, and so natural in this ~ so friendly ~ that I felt encouraged with each person I stood in front of, receiving their gaze and kiss and giving mine in the same moment. When I got to the end of the line, I became the next one in that line, so that those behind me now stopped at me and I went through the same ritual, just from the other side.

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