On September 11th I was in Oman watching CNN. When the Twin Towers collapsed, I called my “best friend.” He lectured me on how we “Americans” will learn our lessons now…
I loved the WTC. The day the WTC collapsed everything shattered. I lost so many friends. My Arab friends no longer trusted my being non-Arab and my non-Muslim friends no longer trusted my being Muslim. I hated. I hated the ones who teach hate. I hated the hate in me. I hated the hate around me. If Islam, PEACE, is not peace, then what is?
Peace is NOT a sectarian question. All religions teach peace. Tao is in the Star of David as much as it’s Taoism. Buddhism frees all creatures. Islam serves the world. All religions teach the rights of the poor.
On September 11th, belief became a fig leaf. For me, all ideology can be used to lie, hide behind, blame. The answer’s not rationalization but choosing. Faith, love are choices.
Friendship is soul to soul. It is deeper than our own biology. When the poet/mystic Rumi met Shems, he knew what mysticism couldn’t show him. Love is stronger than the grave. In the 1980s, I met a sheikh and a community of friends. I began to study to be a whirling dervish: the Shakers’ song: when true simplicity is gained, to bend and to turn we will not be ashamed: that is whirling. Most whirling dervishes stop before they’re 30. I was over 40. A friend showed me. He touched my hip and shoulder and it was all clear. My friend touched my hip and showed me where whirling comes from. Like a potter centering the clay. Friendship breaks through the BS.
We are free to love. Love is freedom. It’s not a feeling. It’s not a lot of fun. It doesn’t make you prettier. It doesn’t make you smarter. It doesn’t make you a nicer person. It is a choice. No guarantee. No proof. No reason. When Fr. Mychal ran into the WTC, he ran in because his friends needed him.
I’ve a long way to go before I’m healed of hate. I’ve got to go back again and again and chose love, again and again, no matter how long it takes. It’s never too late. Never too soon. You choose it. You’ve got no other choice. Not a doctrine. It is a choice. That is what I believe.
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