Saturday, April 28, 2012


What is this life if, full of care, 
We have no time to stand and stare. 

No time to stand beneath the boughs 
And stare as long as sheep or cows. 

No time to see, when woods we pass, 
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. 

No time to see, in broad daylight, 
Streams full of stars, like skies at night. 

No time to turn at Beauty's glance, 
And watch her feet, how they can dance. 

No time to wait till her mouth can 
Enrich that smile her eyes began. 

A poor life this if, full of care, 
We have no time to stand and stare.

... William Henry Davies

Friday, April 20, 2012

No Need To Say Goodbye

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word

And then that word grew louder and louder
'Til it was a battle cry

I'll come back
When you call me
No need to say goodbye...

Now, we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget

Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
'Til they're before your eyes

You'll come back
When they call you
No need to say goodbye

... The Call, Regina Spektor

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We Are As The Flute

We are as the flute, and the music in us is from thee;
we are as the mountain and the echo in us is from thee.

We are as pieces of chess engaged in victory and defeat:
our victory and defeat is from thee, O thou whose qualities are comely!

Who are we, O Thou soul of our souls,
that we should remain in being beside thee?

We and our existences are really non-existence;
thou art the absolute Being which manifests the perishable.

We all are lions, but lions on a banner:
because of the wind they are rushing onward from moment to moment.

Their onward rush is visible, and the wind is unseen:
may that which is unseen not fail from us!

Our wind whereby we are moved and our being are of thy gift;
our whole existence is from thy bringing into being.

... Rumi

Monday, April 16, 2012

To Be A Living, Breathing Sacred Word

I may pull the Quran down from the topmost shelf, and sit in silent recitation, but if the Quran cannot be read in the movement of my limbs, the angle of my chin, the way I walk, sit and hold someone's hand, it is as if it had never been written at all.

To be a living, breathing sacred word -- this idea is worth reflection... We are, at our source, a self-disclosure of the Word.

It is the painstaking work of the calligrapher -- an act of worship as much as an art form -- that ignites the creative power of words. I have watched my dear friend Elinor Aishah Holland, as she gently moves her reed across the burnished paper. What if we imagine ourselves as Arabic letters set down by a loving hand? Some of us stand haughty like an alif, some stooped and humble like a dal, some all tied up in knots like a ha. Alone we are of course marvelous, a singular creation. But it is only when letters are connected that they can write out a word. So it is with us. It is only in fellowship that we can write the Word.

Still, connection is not so easy after all. In Arabic, almost every letter must change its shape in multiple ways in order to connect to its neighbor. As Aishah tells me, each letter must find the true proportion that allows it to be both in harmony with the letters around it and in harmony with what is being conveyed. And so it is with us: regardless of where we stand in the play of human fellowship, we have to change to accommodate the flawed and glorious selfhood of our neighbor. We bend a little out of shape, only to realize with a start that this is not a loss after all, but a new beginning, a movement across the borders of ourselves.

Can we come together to activate the sacred Word? The words we create in fellowship are more powerful than any one of us can hope to utter alone. These are the words of the ever-new revelation. These are the words that will change our world.

... Living Out the Sacred Word, Homayra Ziad

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Caine's Arcade: No Small Feat

No deed is too small.
No effort goes wasted.
Make someone else happy,
And many other beautiful souls will surround you.

... Caine's Arcade

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Always On The Side Of The Egg

Please do, however, allow me to deliver one very personal message. It is something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the wall: Rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something like this:

"Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg."

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?

What is the meaning of this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells are that high, solid wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians who are crushed and burned and shot by them. This is one meaning of the metaphor.

This is not all, though. It carries a deeper meaning. Think of it this way. Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: It is The System. The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others - coldly, efficiently, systematically.

I have only one reason to write novels, and that is to bring the dignity of the individual soul to the surface and shine a light upon it. The purpose of a story is to sound an alarm, to keep a light trained on The System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them. I fully believe it is the novelist's job to keep trying to clarify the uniqueness of each individual soul by writing stories - stories of life and death, stories of love, stories that make people cry and quake with fear and shake with laughter. This is why we go on, day after day, concocting fictions with utter seriousness.

... Haruki Murakami, on receiving the Jerusalem Prize
Full speech, click here