By Marguerite Theophil
Earth is crammed with heaven. Sadly, though, earning a living, raising families and achieving success, most of us hardly take notice of this. It takes poets, or those with poetic ears, eyes and tongues to reconnect us to this state of noticing.
Crammed with heaven is that just-right phrase from the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning : Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.
Once we learn to see with the eyes of the heart, or what Islamic mystics have called chasm-e-dil, we begin to inhabit a world transformed by our seeing. The bland or unattractive reveals hidden beauty, the ordinary becomes sacred, everyday events take on new meaning and depth.
Alice Walkers novel, The Color Purple, with its story of suffering graced with love, and earthy wisdom of its poor African American characters, is a powerful if unlikely sacred text, to be read and re-read. The main character, the simple, unlettered Celie, often thought of God and scribbled notes to Him, but in the middle of a sad and difficult life, she stops writing. Celie meets Shug, an unlikely wise teacher, in the form of a sassy, sultry singer with unusual ideas, who teaches her that God does not have to be an old white man with a grey beard but that He or It as Shug refers to God saying God is neither man or woman can be seen in everyone else without the help of the white man’s religious teaching. Celies final letter, after not writing to God for a very long time, begins, Dear God, dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, and dear peoples. Dear everything. Dear God.
The Color Purple has another startling teaching startling in the way it is phrased. Shug declares: I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.
Later she adds by way of explanation: People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back always making little surprises and springing them on us when we least expect it.
Viktor Frankl, author of the popular Mans Search For Meaning tells of catching a glimpse of heaven even at a Nazi death camp, in the midst of unimaginable horrors, degradation and inhumanity. He writes of how, standing outside late one evening, we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colours,from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, How beautiful the world could be! Reminders are found everywhere. Tracy Chapman sings in her hauntingly beautiful voice: You can look to the stars in search of the answers,/ Look for God and life on distant planets,/ Have your faith in the ever after,/ While each of us holds inside the map to the labyrinth,/ And heavens here on earth. This living can be heaven or hell, depending on the perspectives that guide the choices that we make for ourselves and others, every single day of our lives.
Source: Times of India