April 17, 2021

  Listen to the voices of the holy in our breasts. By their hearts all hearts are intoxicated. Through their nonexistence, we learn to truly be. [Rumi] If we could hold a mirror up to our own minds, what would we see? A mirror can’t be bribed or flattered. It simply reflects. If we reflect on what fills our hearts and minds, we may find a constant torrent of the mundane details of everyday life: what is needed to merely… Read more

March 28, 2021

True power and compassion flow when validation comes from within Of the many stories relating the beautiful character of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, the one I’ll call The Tale of the Trash has been the most present in my life. From a young age, my mom would tell me and my sisters this story to describe how the Prophet of Islam acted with mercy. The version in my memory goes something like this: Muhammad lived… Read more

February 23, 2021

What do you call an enlightenment about the dark? Something shifted for me around the winter solstice last year, that time in late December when the days are shortest and the nights are longest, to make me perceive darkness in a new way: To see its beauty. To feel its healing capacity. And to sense its preciousness and fragility. Like so many other inhabitants of the pre-industrial world, from wild animals to rainforests and glaciers to silence itself, it is… Read more

February 1, 2021

I was feeling hopeful in December; reflecting back on 2020 all I could see were blessings. It was a sharp turn-around from earlier in the year in March when I felt a wave of depression, not sure how I was to manage without my regular medical treatment in Turkey to help my M.E. and fibromyalgia symptoms. The UK lockdown had kicked in two days before our flight, and Turkey had closed its airspace. The year ahead looked bleak. It took… Read more

January 4, 2021

It would be impossible to separate my heart’s awakening with my Sufi master Rumi from awakening to music, and in particular the music of the Turkish reed flute, called the ney. Outwardly, I suppose it wouldn’t seem surprising for a disciple of the Mevlevi tradition of Sufism to be drawn to the mystical instrument described in the opening lines of Rumi’s poetic masterpiece, the Mathnawi. Mevlana’s description of the ney is the entry point into a universe of 26,000 verses… Read more

November 22, 2020

  Are we asleep? Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi can really challenge us on this issue: This world is a dream—don’t be deluded; if in a dream a hand is lost, it’s no harm. In dreams, no real damage is done if the body is maimed or torn in two hundred pieces. The Prophet said of this apparently substantial world that it is but the sleeper’s dream. You’ve accepted this as an idea, but the spiritual traveler has beheld this truth with… Read more

August 14, 2020

Excerpted from the forthcoming In the House of Remembering, The Living Tradition of Sufi Teaching, by Kabir Helminski   I was talking to somebody recently who, with a good heart, said, “I have no need for religion. I know what is right and what is wrong.” I didn’t comment or argue, but, actually, this brings up some very important subjects. Do we need God? Do we need God to do and be good? The answer is no, up to a… Read more

August 1, 2020

“To know love, become we.” – Mevlana   Four years ago, as a journalist, I wrote a profile of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Louisville, Kentucky — and the parallel movement of white advocates that had emerged to support it. I took on the assignment because I wanted to understand BLM as a new civil rights movement. But reporting the article took me into unexpected emotional and spiritual territory. I had not felt how terrifying it can be to… Read more

June 24, 2020

In the three very long months since my last article when I wondered what our future would hold on the other side of the pandemic, hopeful that we might emerge on a different path from where we were before, I could not have imagined that that ‘different path’ would so quickly lead us to a global uprising against systemic dehumanisation – and all while we are still in the midst of the pandemic. I have wondered at the speed and… Read more

May 23, 2020

“That floss is going to give you a fit,” Miss Lou-Ann clucked as she watched me make another attempt to thread my needle. I took up three strands of the gold embroidery floss and tried to roll them into a knot between my thumb and forefinger as she had shown me — only to have the strands fall apart yet again. It was a cool morning in late April. Rain clouds were gathering outside the window where her two cats… Read more

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