Well, this has been an unexpected couple of days!
I did expect to go to see the Sheikh, Llwellyn Vaughan Lee and I did do that. I have been sitting with the Sufis for about 10 years now. I have felt that perhaps this is a path aligned to my soul for some time but I haven’t been sure. I never took a Guru and I’m not sure about taking one now. But I didn’t expect Llwellyn to announce that he was going into semi-retirement and that his son was going to be taking more of a central role. I did get that his son was the successor – that was clear from a video that I saw this week. However, that was a bit of a surprise to hear Llwellyn is backing away from public life.
I went to speak with him. I’ve done that only once before in the 10 years. I am not sure if this is my path. Maybe it goes back to my fear of commitment (I can’t even commit to an annual phone contract – seriously). But, he has said over and over and over again that this is not the path for everyone. Some people need to work with music. Some souls need to work with dance. His path is the path of silent meditation. I hate meditation! It is the one thing I just could not bring myself to do in the yogic tradition even though I knew I could go far with it. But, I think perhaps I just don’t like yogic meditation. I enjoy Osho’s dynamic meditation. I enjoy walking meditation. Maybe I could learn to love the Sufi meditation (?) I know that he got that I’m not ready. I didn’t know that I wasn’t ready yet. I was going to say that Llwellyn misunderstood me, but Llwellyn never misunderstands anyone. He sees I am not yet ready to make a commitment and until I do, there is nothing he can do for me to help me or support me on the path. So, I told him I would work with the practices and come back. So I am. I worked with a different Sufi order at one time but it didn’t fit with me. And so, tonight will be my first Golden Sufi meditation meeting. It’s only taken me 10 years to get around to attending one.
The Sufi path is really old fashioned ascetic mysticism and pure living. It is not for the faint of heart. The Sufis say that the goal is to die before dying. Essentially, everything falls away. I think that until now (and maybe not even now), I have not been ready to take that step to let everything be burned. A yogic monk/nun gives up the world in complete renunciation and lets everything be burned in the fires. My life path is not of renunciation but of relationship and it is in relationship where my life lessons have and continue to come. So, I never took the path of renunciation even when I decided to dedicate myself to Spirit and take vows as a Minister. The Sufi path is different. It is one of surrender and letting go, letting go, letting go and dying to this world, belong to another world and yet still finding the way to live in the world. We continue to have relationships but our one true love is the Beloved. Our path is Love. We are burned in the fires of Love. There can be no greater commitment to make. I hope that when next Llwellyn and I meet, I have let go of whatever stands in the way of me stepping into the serious pursuit of the Divine.
I had a lovely evening after being in the presence of LVL and I took time to go to the cemetery behind London’s Interfaith Centre. I took a few photos. It was a rainy, dreary day and the light was perfect for photography in a cemetery! And yet, really, all I wanted to do was sit and listen to the silence. I took a few photos and then sat on the bench and listened. I wonder what about silence attracts dogs…because while I sat, I attracted several dogs that wanted to play. One – a chocolate coloured Labrador came right up to me, looked at me and dropped his ball at my feet. It didn’t seem I was going to get the chance to sit. We played ball for a little while until his daddies came down the path. Even still, he wanted to play but I managed to send him on with his daddies. It was a nice meeting. He had a beautiful coat but a happy heart and that made me happy to have a few moments of play with him.
I was going to go to the art gallery but just decided to sit with the peaceful feeling that my day with LVL gave me. I went home and fell asleep early, sleeping better than I had in months. Three of my five flatmates had moved out and the flat was so silent. I lay in my bed listening to that silence as I drifted off to dreamland where the Sufis do their greatest work together.
When I woke in the morning, I had to laugh because even 13 years after leaving Manhattan, I can’t let a Sunday morning pass without reading as much of the Sunday New York Times as possible. I had a restful lay in. I had intended to see a photography exhibition but R-, a friend from Seminary and a very successful New York writer let me know she was gathering folks in a pub in London and so I rearranged my day to make seeing her a priority and meeting up with Kt- afterwards since we haven’t seen one another in over a week.
Well – all that was a surprise, too. More of a surprise that Kt- and I ended up in a strange kind of dive bar with an odd mix of people and we had a blast dancing to 70s and 80s tunes until well past 3 in the morning! I got home at 4:30, not having intended any of that when I woke up that day!
I love when life provides delightful surprises along the way.
So…after a rather filled couple of days….
1 I am grateful for my friendship with Kt-. We met only a few weeks ago but being a couple of singletons who share a love of street art and an aversion to drama, I love him to pieces. I have never not had a fun time going out with him and I hope he can say the same of me. I’ve taken to telling him I love him when we say bye bye and that might seem really superficial to be on the receiving end, but I really do love my friends. Sometimes people behave badly, sometimes they disappoint and I kind of assume that people will – at some point in our friendship – so I don’t expect perfection. I expect loyalty and trust and when I feel that, then I am yours. For keeps. So….be fair warned, folks. I hope he gets that its not one of those phony kiss kiss moments. I think he does, even if it feels uncomfortable.
2 I am grateful for the Sunday New York Times and for the Atlantic. I should be reading the Financial Times and the Economist more than I do but I really do enjoy the NYT and the Atlantic for their thoughtful journalism.
3 I am grateful that R- was able to squeeze in a London meet up with us all. Her friends are a hoot and it is delightful to see how she has blossomed in the past – gosh – 14 years. She has had a lot of loss in her life in that time and it is wonderful to see that her career as a writer has taken off to balance out some of that energy. She looks good and she looks like she is loving life. I hope that life is, for her, as good as it looks and I send her blessings and love. I hope it is not another 14 years before we see one another again.
Joy – It was such a joy to dance with Kt- last night. We were trapped in what we call Freshers week with all these beautiful kids who looked about 12 to us oldies but were probably 19 or 20. We showed them how to do it – even though we were pretty certain that those rotten kids also thought we were actually old enough to be at Woodstock! It was fun dancing with my own gogo boy!
Oneness – My sense of oneness this weekend came from sitting with the Sufis and the amazing energy that is generated when a couple hundred people sit in a sacred place and meditate on Love. Wow. It is – as Rumi calls it – intoxicating!
Service – I had a really wonderful day at the retreat. I met a yogic nun who had given up her path and was a bit lost in the wilderness. I said something reassuring to her and she asked for a hug and sobbed while I was holding her. It was such a privilege to be there for her.