This is a recording of a ‘conference’ phone conversation between members of the Threshold community in the USA on the occasion of 17 December, the anniversary of Mevlana’s death, known as the ‘Urs’.
Several participants express their appreciation of the value of this kind of phone conversation. Separated as they are by hundreds of miles of physical space from other ‘lovers’, they find a communion of hearts, a connection in the unseen. One person relates how he awoke at 3.30 in the morning and found himself moved to do a zhikr session which proved to be particularly intensive, before another sister reminded him later in the day that this was indeed the date of the ‘Urs’.
One person recalls how the issue of grace, the ability to feel a connection with God, is a frequent theme of American history since the days of the Puritans. People of all faiths yearn for it. Camille refers to the constant reminders from the Divine to the ever-forgetful human being – ‘insan’ in Arabic means both human and forgetful. Mevlana uses the analogy of the mother tickling the nose of her infant to wake up for a feed; or, speaking of sheikhs and saints, of the king who is seated in the rose garden in union (with the Divine) whilst in the outer world he is a guide for his friends; the rose garden goes with him wherever he goes.
Gaining the connection is essentially a passive process gained through receptivity and awareness; one speaker mentions an Advent meditation on how to ‘live patiently in a chosen emptiness and deliberate non-fulfilment’ and Camille responds that ‘ in the depth of that darkness there is a deeper companionship’; we are created with a capacity for intimacy with the Divine. Whirling or turning can be one means to this; as one sister says, after meeting with friends for a ‘sema’ or whirling ceremony the previous evening, ‘ I cannot express what love comes through the image of whirling and the “ruins of the heart” ’ (quoting a phrase from Rumi). It’s freeing the heart –- all that remains is love. Camille speaks of turning as ‘putting sorrow and joy deeper into our connection with the Beloved’, and takes further metaphors from Rumi’s writings; ‘drinking the water of life which calls to be drunk’, of ‘tasting delicacies without chewing a morsel’. The sema is also described as ‘ the centre of true beginning’, as a metaphor for a true grounding in connection and receptivity. As Rumi said ‘ I have no art except to keep on turning into the sky’.
There is also some discussion of the 99 Names of God. One participant relates how he and his local group of seekers had a lunch at which they recited and discussed the Names. They considered the pairs of Names which reflect contrasting attributes of the Divine; first and last, manifest and hidden, the one who effaces and the one who rectifies. Camille reminds us that Presence is continually reflected back to us in each aspect of creation.
The conversation ends with some reflections on a passage from Matthew; subtle threads connect us all. In a sense there is one soul and one path, we can all become ‘drunk with the same wine’ and free of separation; the beauty of the path is this sharing.