August 10, 2009 § 6 Comments
“We can be human only in fellowship, in community, in justice and peace. We need each other to become truly free,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. This quote has special resonance because I’m still fresh from the experience of spending Saturday evening at the Orchard House Cafe in Manhattan. The event kicked off Parabola’s latest issue, The Path. There were stories, songs, and a wonderful live performance (accompanied by hand drums) of an extraordinary poem by the French spiritual seeker Rene Daumal. Roger Lipsey, who read aloud some of Daumal’s letters, said Daumal’s words didn’t seem to want to stay on the page, that they seemed to be made to be spoken. Listening to them, I understood although I’m hard pressed to say what I received. There was a dimension, a world of micro (or nano?) impressions about his effort and aspiration that didn’t get reading his poetry on the page. How good it was to be there listening with others! All evening, even when I had to speak briefly and was nervous, I had impressions of being supported and liberated by being with others. In my last blog post, I wrote about receiving an impression of myself in a moment of being really hurt and angry, and how that pushed me out of the ordinary groove of thought and opened me up to a new impression. Someone wrote an interesting response to that blog that touched on what it can be like to have the light of awareness illuminate some of ideas and feelings about the world that are submerged like old sunken ships in depths of ourselves. At the Orchard House on Saturday, I realized that being with others (especially the kind who would travel there to hear a poem with the refrain “Remember”) can open us up to a truth that is higher and finer and quicker and more alive than anything any of us could climb up to on our own.