Now is the Time
I had just graduated from high school when the red and gold cover of Daniel Ladinsky's newly published, The Gift, caught my attention in a bookstore somewhere in Texas. I had never heard of Ladinsky or Hafiz (Shams-ud-din Muhammad), the 14th century Persian poet and Sufi master, whom Ladinsky translated for the modern reader. I was leaving a small West Texas farming community for college, and at that time, there was no comprehensive Internet to explore, no reference to such a thing in the card filing system of our small library. The curiosities I had - and the answers I sought - required physicality to find: books, and more books, to carry and read and make connections as I had time. And I had the time. I was 18, and a large and uncertain world lay before me, with all the years I could count in which to explore it.
And the book - part of the unfamiliar, with its textured cover and intricate scrolling - intrigued me, so I picked it up and started reading and was immediately plunged into the realization that I was leaving more than my small town. I was, in a way, leaving myself, for the girl who walked out with the book tucked under her arm was a different girl than the one who walked in. The encounter was sacred, for this is what books do to us.
Over the years, my copy of The Gift has become quite worn. It's full of flags and Post-it notes and scribbles from my thoughts. I copied its poems to my best friend in our weekly letters, pulled it out in the night when I felt my own crisis of faith. I shared it with my senior seminar class and revisited it again when I learned that Gabriel Garcia Lorca, whose Poema del Cante Jondo (Poem of the Deep Song) I fell in love with in dusty Spain, read Hafiz, too. And now, with the entire world at my fingertips, I share snippets of it, in inspired color, with you as easily as I picked it up so long ago in that bookstore.
I can't help but reflect on that memory, and what time has revealed to that 18 year old girl, especially as another birthday circles me around the sun and cruel mathematics shows me I'm closer now to 50 than I am to 18. The world still appears to lay before me, with everything still yet I want to learn, and explore, and earnestly accomplish, but it has a slightly different hue. And I am reminded now, even I was then, that today is just as sacred as that day so long ago, and that now is still the time to tuck a book under my arm and become a slightly different girl.
Now is the Time
Now is the time to know / That all you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider / A lasting truce with God.
Now is the time to understand / That all your ideas of right and wrong / Were just a child's training wheels / To be laid aside / When you can fully live / With veracity / And love.
Hafiz is a divine envoy / Whom the Beloved / Has written a holy message upon.
My dear, please tell me, / Why do you still / Throw sticks at your heart / And God?
What is it in that sweet voice inside / That incites you to fear?
Now is the time for the world to know / That every thought and action is sacred.
This is the time / For you to deeply compute the possibility / That there is anything / But Grace.
Now is the season to know / That everything you do / Is Sacred.