Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
''Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.''
''Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter—and the Bird is on the Wing.''
From The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, poet, mathematician,
astronomer, born on this date, 1048, in Nishapur, Persia
Such familiar words to English-speakers! I remember memorizing passages from The Rubaiyat when I was a boy in school.
And some good reminders today of what’s important in Life. For one, Simplicity. Quantity – of anything - doesn’t provide a happy Life. I guess every individual and generation has to learn this? Quality of simple basics does: good food and drink, Nature, Art (symbolized by the Book of Verse), and probably most important, dear friends to share Life with. And by the capitalized “Thou”, Omar may have meant the sense of union with Life Itself, with Being. What some call “God”.
That there are some with so much and so many with so little in our World today points to the basic underlying cause of so much strife, I think. It underlies the utter rage of people at the millions of dollars of bonus money going to fabulously rich bankers while so many can’t even go to the doctor, or have to choose food over medicine, or get poor education, including here in the supposedly richest country in the World. No economic or political system that creates and sustains such outrage is morally defensible. Capitalism, Communism, Free Markets: all can be used to deprive people of Life.
Khayyam also reminds us how short Life is! “The bird is on the Wing” ! It reminds me of the Venerable Bede’s image of the sparrow flying into the castle’s Great Hall, where warmth and delight are, then quickly our again into the dark; or, the Evening Gatha’s admonition of “Life and Death are important; Life is short; Awake, Awake!!” We must learn to repent with ease and grace: to see quickly our failures in Love and Compassion, Kindness and Generosity, to turn quickly back to Love. There is no time for long-held grudges, for rancor, for bitterness. If we can’t agree, then agree to disagree with respect.
May our days in this short earthly Life radiate with simple joys, and our energies towards seeing that none are deprived.