I thanked you once, Jose, for – well, for everything – and you looked at me in a layered way, I couldn’t read all that was there. You said, “Please…please don’t thank me.” You looked a little sad, pained, apologetic, weary. I still don’t fully understand, but I do my best not to thank you all the time (of course, with me, some “thank you’s” do slip out unintentionally), because I know you weren’t just saying the automatic/host/polite version, of “Oh, no, don’t thank ME, my pleasure,” or whatever it is we say in the US that actually means, “Darn right, thank me, for all I did!”
You’re not saying it that way. Maybe it’s connected to how I’ve heard you say something once in a while at the end of a particularly strong, all out rockin’ Zikr. During the Sufi practice of zikr, the group sits in a close circle, and Jose leads an indescribably amazing hour of the remembrance of God. It is the remembrance of the God above that we so frequently forget; the God within us that we are, the God that is in everyone around us, everyone here. We chant, sing, pray, breathe in synchronicity and rhythm; there is drumming. We sing, begging God to forgive us for forgetting Him. Sometimes a guy in the group plays the sweetest guitar, a strum of longing and love. Some people might sob and cry from the bottom of their hearts. Sometimes all of the voices miraculously become one booming, connected voice, and we are truly – not like a cliché, but really – One. We become the God we are longing for, the divine Love. We become all that we could have ever worked or begged for, more than we feel we could ever deserve, for our paltry efforts.
Sometimes, after one of THOSE kinds of Zikrs, where everyone knows but doesn’t need to say, that it is perfect, that we are truly One, sometimes, then, Jose whispers in a quiet, somewhat weary traveler type of voice, “Bless you…bless you all.”
If I have to interpret this in words, my guess is that he is usually somewhat alone on this long journey of coming back to God, that he has traveled far to be where he is, and he is taking responsibility for carrying a while bunch of blind people like me, along – pointing to the obvious, telling, re-telling, instructing, offering, over and over again. It must feel tiring and lonely sometimes. So somehow it seems like the rare moments where we can really join him, he no longer feels that he’s carrying the load on his own. He knows the hard journey we’ve made to – briefly – join him in One with God. He knows how easy it is to stay blind, to not come to the circle fully. He knows how hard it is to blunder around in the dark, repeatedly, ridiculously not accepting the glorious gifts offered right in front of us: To experience our lives, connected to God, to the present moment.
It must feel really nice for him, when we can sit up with clear eyes and join him in celebration of being awake in our present lives. So somehow this seems connected – what a joy it must be for him, when he is suddenly not so alone for a moment, when he can look around and see that We Are Here, with him and God. So – bless us, for “getting it” for a few sacred moments here and there.
Maybe then, the point is mute: Why would I thank him? What could those words possibly do to express how I feel? What can you say to someone who gives his life and time and effort to do all he can to support your spiritual growth? What would “thank you” mean, to someone who has invited my loud and big family of four to move into their rainforest farm? How do I thank him for giving us the opportunity to join in community with his family and group? Who in me is thanking what in him? Is it just my ego trying to feed his ego, if I do? Whatever it is, it feels small and impossibly inefficient to express my feelings.
Bless you, Jose, as he says to us. And bless this group, for showing up and doing what we can to join him. Thankful, of course, yet in silent reverence for the miracle that has happened in our lives.