Today, I did something I always love doing. I went to Value Village and rummaged through the used books section. I have learned to let the one that I need, find me. When I take my time it always works out perfectly. Today was no exception. This time the book that beckoned was a small, thin, hard cover titled Kahlil Gibran~Mirrors of the Soul, translated with biographical notes by Joseph Sheban.
When I got home, I made tumeric, ginger and clove tea and sat down to read. Firstly, I was taken with the strong smell of the book. Admittedly, I sat with my face buried in the book, smelling the mustiness for more than a moment. Smiling, thinking of someone in particular which, inspired me to write a poem. She’s been following me around the whole day. I gave her the attention she deserved. I’ll post on that another time.
Back to the book…The author went into detail about Gibran’s ancestry. One thing that struck me was that his family of origin had lived in Bcherri, a city that was on the edge of the forest known as the “Cedars of God”. The Cedars of Lebanon are well know and can be found in the bible over 100 times. This is really a small aspect of what influenced Gibran, his spirituality, philosophy and artistry.
I remembered that over a year ago a Reiki Master recommended I use cedar oil to eliminate any psychic blocks. I started seeing the word “cedar” repeatedly. Synchronicity. I decided to pick up some cedar oil for myself. I have had a small vial at my beside for some time now and just within the last week or so, I started massaging it into my scalp before going to bed. Once that is done, I set affirmations as to what I want to have had experienced during the dream state. Yes, I digress.
Back on track. I was first introduced to Kahlil Gibran’s writing by one of my fellow Evergreen writers. I’ve only been with the Dartmouth writers group for just over a year so my relationship with Gibran is new, much like my own experience writing poetry.
I borrowed The Prophet from the library and read it quickly. I was mesmerized by Gibran’s eloquence, wisdom and deep spirituality. The Prophet has been on the best sellers list for over 40 years. Again, I find a similar tone in Mirror of the Soul. The book is a beautiful piece carefully constructed to paint a clearer picture of the mystic behind the famous words and pictures.
In Chapter 4, Words of Caution, Lebanon or Syria? without getting into a geographical lesson, I learned that while Gibran is known to be from Lebanon he wrote, My Country Syria. I read of the constant turbulence the people endured for centuries. Subsequently, in Chapter 5 Gibran’s Dual Personality, I came upon this piece I Believe in You.
I was so moved, I thought to share it because of what has transpired of the last several years regarding the devastating crisis in Syria. It is just as important today as it was when Gibran wrote it, 1901-1903.
I do not consider myself a political activist. I hover on the periphery, observing. Mostly, I pray for peace. Nonetheless, I have learned that when I am compelled to share or speak up, I must. Tonight, as the snow swirls white outside, my heart swells with compassion and memories, to the point of bursting…
I have had some experience with displaced persons and refugees. In 1999, my job was to travel from Macedonia to the Canadian Camp in Kosovo as a convoy medic with the Canadian Military, Op Kinetic. During one of my first trips, I came upon a vehicle accident on the way to the Kosovo border. The driver who was injured was a Kosovo Refugee who was heading back to Kosovo to see his sisters’ brand new baby and was hit head on by an NGO SUV.
The police had arrived and the man was very agitated and seriously injured. He related to me that he was in Macedonia illegally but had to see his family. I was concerned for his welfare but he couldn’t stay at the crash site. I couldn’t let the police take him.
I directed my ambulance driver to transport us to the Skopje hospital. I could tell my patient was very upset. I thought the best place for him was the hospital, until we arrived. I saw the two police officers who had been at the crash scene waiting for us, for him. I let him go. I never knew what happened to him. I have often wondered, and thought the worst. I felt responsible. I will never know of his fate…It haunts me. Perhaps that is why I needed this book, to share, to heal too. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be uprooted from my home, threatened by authorities, displaced to a completely different part of the world. I could only hope that where I end up would be welcoming…
When I read this passage, it made me think perhaps this beautiful message can in some small way bring peace, love and hope to you, you who seek what you have lost. Or, to help you who accepts the loss and seeks to build anew. And, perhaps soothe those of you who have fears of the unknowns, of the changes in your lives due to the waves of terror and mayhem in your own countries or a world away…
“I Believe in You
I believe in you, and I believe in your destiny.
I believe that you are contributors to this new civilization.
I believe that you have inherited from your forefathers an ancient dream, a song, a prophecy, which you can proudly lay as a gift of gratitude upon the lap of America.
I believe that you can say to the founders of this great nation, “Here I am, a youth, a young tree whose roots were plucked from the hills of Lebanon, yet I am deeply rooted here, and I would be fruitful.”
And I believe that you can say to Abraham Lincoln, the blessed, “Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided your hand when you wrote; and I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you have written.”
I believe that you can say to Emerson and Whitman and James, “In my veins runs the blood of the poets and wise men of old, and it is my desire to come to you and receive, but I shall not come with empty hands.”
I believe that even as your fathers came to this land to produce riches, you were born here to produce riches by intelligence, by labor.
I believe that it is in you to be good citizens.
And what is it to be a good citizen?
It is to acknowledge the other person’s rights before asserting your own, but always to be conscious of your own.
It is to be free in word and deed, but it is also to know that your freedom is subject to the other person’s freedom.
It is to create the useful and the beautiful with your own hands, and to admire what others have created in love and with faith.
It is to produce by labor and only by labor, and to spend less than you have produced that your children may not be dependent upon the state for support when you are no more.
It is to stand before the towers of New York and Washington, Chicago and San Francisco saying in your heart, “I am the descendant of a people that builded Damascus and Byblos, and Tyre and Sidon and Antioch, and now I am here to build with you, and with a will.”
You should be proud of being an American, but you should also be proud that your fathers and mothers came from a land upon which God laid His gracious hand and raised His messengers.
Young Americans of Syrian origin, I believe in you.”
By Kahlil Gibran
Blessings be to you, to each and every one.
May we all heal and love one another, as one.
© Jan 2017 Judi Risser All Rights Reserved