It is an easy act of devotion for me to pay ecstatic attention to the natural world from my window, the great south east wind creating lace-like patterns on the surface of the vast sea bay I overlook, pushing clouds layered like cream cakes along at great pace in a vast sky of purple and grey blue, the coolness of the mist which swallows the wind and brings all to a white silence and veils the distant mountains into ghostly shapes. I have come to love the clouds of Cape sparrows that live in the hedges of the garden below, who quarrel noisily over the bird-feeder and line up in rows on my windowsill to trill and sing, a private show it seems just for me.
What is more difficult, to the point of impossibility sometimes, is to honour my body as part of that natural world and therefore to live in it as an embodied self. I can feel that each breath is breathed into me lovingly by the Beloved but to follow that breath into a body of that hurts, to legs that are no longer reliable, to dysfunctional nerves that cause pain that screeches and whines like finger nails drawn along a blackboard, is an act of trust that despair will not engulf me.
But I am made of the atoms of earth, I am a cell in her great body, I am expression of life, no matter how diseased. So I grieve my scarred neural networks alongside the great scarred tar sands of Canada, my lack of mobility has restricted my range of movement as much as the encroaching urban landscape has imprisoned the Cape Baboons onto isolated mountain ranges, and the fences that have disrupted the great animal migrations of Africa, now only a memory. And so I am part of the pain of the earth, the pain of being alive.
I have a wise friend who has taught me to share my discomfort with the large body that I am just such a tiny part of. To lie down and allow the earth to hold my aching weight, to let her cradle me to her bosom on soft beach sand, to relax into springy grass or soft blankets on my bedroom floor. So there are days I remember to lie down and be completely present with my body and the body of nature I am one with and offer all to the Beloved.
“They called to me in my innermost interior, 'Oh Bayezid, our treasure chambers are filled with approved deeds of obedience and pleasing acts of worship. If you want us, offer us something which we do not have.'
I said, 'What is it that you do not have?'
The voice said, 'Helplessness and impotence and need and humility and a broken spirit.’’