Bus encounters and poetry

‘Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow’   From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Meditation has the power to create space for memories of forgotten or insignificant on the surface events that have taken place many years and miles away to emerge when the time is ripe so that we can attach different meaning and reach a different level of understanding. It’s also amazing that poems and bits of books are recalled despite the passage of time within the space and stillness of meditation practices. Recently, a couple of lines of one of my very old beloved poems by Khalil Gibran I had not come across for decades surfaced along with fleeting images of events from that past.

On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

In my early twenties one of the several jobs I did  was escorting school kids on the bus to school in the morning and then back home in the afternoon in affluent neighborhoods. It was an easy job, that earned me very little money and a lot of time wasted in between the morning and afternoon rides. There were three buses, and one often remained in the area to allow us to take shelter in it when the weather was bad or when we tired of wandering the streets. I usually spent this time walking around the well kept neighborhoods and window shopping when the weather was good, and I mostly read when it was cold or raining. There were two other girls that worked on the other two buses and we usually all waited on the same bus. I actually met one of these girls a few years later on the island I moved to. She was working for the telephone company by then. The other girl was called Anna and she had a tough veneer, played backgammon with the bus drivers and smoked like a chimney. When she tired of that she would come and sit next to me and confide in me stories of physical abuse by her father and as we got to know each other a little she got curious about my interest in books. Once she asked to come home with me after work because she had nowhere to stay till it was time for her to get the bus to her parents’ town. She had borrowed a book I was reading at the time by Khalil Gibran. She never returned it because after a while she stopped coming to work and I lost touch with, but years later on one of my visits to my father’s hometown I met her on the ferry boat and it turned out that her parents were living there, too. I often ponder at the complexity of our life tapestry; so many people cross our paths and impact us to some extent or other, but we may barely notice or be aware of the fact, and it is our level of consciousness that determines both the quality of our attention and meaning making. We are often consciously unaware or oblivious to the power and energy of words and stories and their potential imprint. A few days after this material surfaced during meditation I heard a song by Damien Rice with lyrics by Khalil Gibran and also found out that an animated film has been created based on his book the Prophet. This returning to Khalil Gibran and my youth seems like another small homecoming, another cycle completed or the unearthing of more pieces of the puzzle, not that these particular pieces were truly missing, but they were in need of dusting and readjusting.

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