“Unless you know how to love your neighbor, you cannot love God. Before placing an offering on the altar of God, you have to reconcile with your neighbor, because reconciling with your neighbor is to reconcile with God. You can only touch God through his creatures; you will not understand what is true love, the love of God, unless you practice the love of humanity.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen master, poet and peace activist, Taming the Tiger Within
Recently, I had the honor of becoming friends with Chase Gagnon through a poetry group we’re apart of on Facebook. To say it simply, his words move my soul. Today, I have the privilege to share the power of his poetry, photography and storytelling! Enjoy.
“I was walking into Zeff’s on the corner of Russell and Winder for lunch when I saw him sitting against the wall. The same tattered old man who’s always roaming around Eastern Market through the snow and freezing rain asking strangers for money, the guy who you can see digging through dumpsters and trash cans looking for scraps of food.
I never have anything to give him, and he knows this by now. But it’s the day after Christmas, and I just hit it big off a dollar scratcher. Won thirty five bucks. He puts his head down as I approach, shielding his face from the wind. “Hey man, you want some lunch?” His eyes lit up “you serious fam? I’m hungry as a motherfucker!
I said “hell yeah!” motioning him with my head to get up off the cold ground. We walked into the filthy dive and sat at the bar, each ordered a couple coney dogs and some chilly fries with a hot cup of coffee.”
“We sat and talked about basketball, how insane Andre Drummond played last night as highlights from the game flashed across the fuzzy TV screen above the counter. Laughed at how stupid our fellow Americans were for electing Donald Trump, and then talked a little bit about how goddamn cold it’s been this past week.
I saw his eyes ice over when he thought about the weather outside, gazing back out into the filthy streets where he sleeps while he sipped his piping hot coffee, both bare hands gripping the mug for warmth. “You know, I can’t remember the last time someone treated me like a human.”
“The story is about the love, compassion, humor, and patience you bring to your life and its situations. God and the universe aren’t just working on the situation: they’re working on YOU. If you’re wondering why the universe isn’t solely focused on getting you the great job offer it’s because the universe isn’t always concerned with which job you have. The picture is much bigger than that. Neither is the universe concerned whether or not you’re married or in a relationship—it’s more concerned with your experience of love than who is or is not in your life. And rather than focusing solely on your health, the universe is more concerned with your experience of life, whatever the conditions may be. The universe is concerned with who you are, and it will bring into your life, in whatever the situations, in whatever time, what you need to become the person you’re supposed to be. The key lies in trusting—and having patience.”
Why do we make the choices we do? After all, we do not have unlimited freedom to do things. We find ourselves constrained by our gender, our race, our economic circumstances, our personalities that were shaped both by genetics and the random processes of life. Furthermore, we find that other people have their own ideas of what we should be doing, and they constrain us still further.
A person born into one culture will have entirely different options than one born into another. They may both lead valuable lives, but they will most certainly differ in many respects. The meaning that they find will come from different palettes. We cannot say that one person’s life is more valuable than another’s.
Of all the people who have lived, have any of them been truly “better” than another? We see in their lives only the exercise of preferences, not differences of inherent meaning.
All meaning in life is arbitrary. It is not tied to god, family, or self unless we define it as such. Nothing in life gives us meaning in and of itself. It is we who assign meaning to objects and relationships. We all try to make the structure of our meaning pretty, but in the end, there is no escape from the feeling that it is all arbitrary.
It might be better not to ruin the universe with our own patterns.
Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that a spring was breaking out in my heart. I said: Along which secret aqueduct, Oh water, are you coming to me, water of a new life that I have never drunk?
Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.
Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that a fiery sun was giving light inside my heart. It was fiery because I felt warmth as from a hearth, and sun because it gave light and brought tears to my eyes.
Last night as I slept, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that it was God I had here inside my heart.
“Anyone who understands that the great variety of things is a reflected image of the one great Divine and leaves behind the diversity in all the images will arrive in an incomprehensible manner at the incomprehensible.”
Divinity is the enfolding of the universe,
and the universe is the unfolding of divinity…
The human mind
is the enfolding of its own dream world
and its own dream world is the unfolding of the human mind.
“This poem describes the longing of the heart, what the soul desires and strives to know when in human form. Flying has always been considered the ultimate freedom which we humans most envy in birds. If we are the falcon is God not the falconer? The tether a Divine “golden cord?” I wish more people were familiar with the poems of Hafiz. They are unique.”
“Hafiz introduces himself as Companion and Guide, Friend and Lover. He invites us to share his life, his wine and his heart, to see ourselves and the world through his eyes. If we didn’t know better, we would think he was courting us – and perhaps he is! … The words of Hafiz speak for God.” – Daniel Ladinsky –