in the weeks leading up to the second yoga holiday at hindu kush heights in mastuj, northern pakistan, things started to reach their usual frantic pitch of city life. deadlines, meetings, classes, driving, moving from one breathless moment to the next, free time seemed like a dreamy mystery.
and yet somehow with God’s grace we all arrived in Islamabad, on time, and then again the following morning, to catch our flight to Chitral.
The trip still fresh in the mind, I want to detail all the events, the days, the special moments, but it would be impossible and also the words would feel hollow…empty of themselves, unable to fill the vast spaces we encountered.
and while i lay my body to rest every night, the letters rainer maria rilke wrote over a century ago to a young poet, whispered through to me as I mixed with the mountains and valleys of upper chitral.
“Why don’t you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of the great pregnancy? Don’t you see how everything that happens is again and again a beginning and couldn’t it be His beginning, since, in itself, starting is always so beautiful? If he is the most perfect one, must not what is less perfect precede him, so that he can choose himself out of fullness and superabundance? — Must not he be the last one, so that he can include everything in himself, and what meaning would we have if he whom we are longing for has already existed?”
Living in the presence of incredible beauty, in the most perfect painting you’ve ever seen, the grand mountains of Hindu Kush, reflect the incredible diversity of creation within us. And life is quite simple, without its usual rush, we walked without destination, and returned to hot tea, fresh food, and sang to the open valley on the edge of a bonfire. How blessed we were, as the full moon, bathed us in her glory, rising up beyond the highest point into the midnight sky.
“As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence or with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join us, help us, we start Him who we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.”
In the quiet footsteps of the sun setting behind Tirich Mir, somehow the ancient longings deep in the spirit, received a direct fulfillment of Light. And as the clouds turned from golden, to orange, to gray, a silent poetry filled my heart. And it spread towards every direction, so that each escaping ray was full of Love, and Awe.
“Is there anything that can deprive you of the hope that in this way you will someday exist in Him, who is the farthest, the outermost limit?”
And now that I’ve made my way back to this laptop, and my tired body yet rested spirit, comes back to its familiar space, I breathe in a sigh of relief at the center of my being. In one hand I hold the experience of cold mornings, sunlit days, and rolling laughter and in the other hand I hold the experience of letting go, of saying yes to what is now, knowing that the vast space that I was in has settled somewhere deep in me and you.