We watched a German movie about music in Istanbul tonight - totally excellent - and a great way to say: there are only 16 days until we leave for Turkey.
"Crossing the Bridge" is about a Western musician trying to understand the soul of Istanbul through it's music. During the course of his tour, he records underground rockers, Kurds, Romany musicians and a lot of traditional artists, too. In the end he admits that he still doesn't understand Istanbul, but has fallen in love with the deep and bold sounds of this incredible place.
In much of life - playing music, spirituality, cross-cultural peace-making or love - I think it is wise to admit when we don't "get" it. I came across these words from Barbara Brown-Taylor who brings a little light into the darkness :
If I had to name my disability, I would call it an unwillingness to fall... This reluctance signals the mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel: life springs from death, not only at the last but also in the man little deaths along the way. When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there - not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene - but promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall.
As we prepare for the peace-making through music journey, the words of Rumi a la Coleman Barks keep coming to me. I've been thinking we might do a Turkish jam incorporating these incredible words:
In so many ways this poem gets it right for me. As one of the Sufis in tonight's film said, "The best word for the spirituality of the Sufi is tolerance." And that brought to mind another Rumi poem that might also be important to us in this peace pilgrimage.
Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.
"Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.
Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.
Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.
At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,
a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden
within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,
spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it's not given us
to see the soul. The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty."
Hear the love fire tangled
in the reed notes, as bewilderment
melts into wine. The reed is a friend
to all who want the fabric torn
and drawn away. The reed is hurt
and salve combining. Intimacy
and longing for intimacy, one
song. A disastrous surrender
and a fine love, together. The one
who secretly hears this is senseless.
A tongue has one customer, the ear.
A sugarcane flute has such effect
because it was able to make sugar
in the reedbed. The sound it makes
is for everyone. Days full of wanting,
let them go by without worrying
that they do. Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note.
Every thirst gets satisfied except
that of these fish, the mystics,
who swim a vast ocean of grace
still somehow longing for it!
No one lives in that without
being nourished every day.
But if someone doesn't want to hear
the song of the reed flute,
it's best to cut conversation
short, say good-bye, and leave.
Lord, may this be so for us as our journey unfolds.
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