Monday, November 23, 2015

Approaching a Sacred Season

Dr. Durrell’s Spiritual Prescriptions

Approaching a Sacred Season
            In 1207 C.E. Rumi was born in what is today Afghanistan. Rumi was a philosopher and a poet, and his writings were filled with sensual mysticism.
            Rumi’s spirituality was part of the Sufi tradition, a mystical form of Muslim practice, and his particular spiritual journey seemed to be about increasing awareness of human unity with the Divine (which Rumi called his “Beloved”). His poems are filled with longing to be in constant communion with the divine Presence.
            Rumi was also a lover of the arts. He believed poetry, dance, and music had spiritual qualities and could be employed in the spiritual search for meaning.
            For Rumi, love was divine, the God of his understanding was infinitely loving, and sharing love extravagantly was a way to honor the Sacred. As we pray, sing, dance, and express love, we are evolving toward enlightenment, growing in our awareness of the Divine, and if we have in any way felt disconnected from our spiritual Source, we will begin to feel reunited with It…or so the philosophy of Rumi would suggest.
            Rumi’s understanding of spirituality as a returning to our Beloved Source, or awakening to the divine Presence, can be seen his poetic prayers of love to the Infinite, as when we wrote, “The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for You, not knowing how misguided that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.”
            I suppose the reason Rumi is on my mind right now is because we are approaching a sacred season, and sacred seasons should help us, to borrow a line from Marianne Williamson, “return to love.” Returning to divine Love is the heart of Rumi’s beautiful works.
            November 29th begins the Christian season of Advent which leads to the celebration of Christmas on December 25th (when we recall the birth of Jesus and find ourselves called to acts of generosity). December 6th is the first night of Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights, a commemoration of the rededication of the Jewish Temple). December 22nd is the Winter Solstice, or Yule, a sacred time for Wiccans and Neo-Pagans. And December 24th this year is the day of celebration for the birth of the prophet Muhammad. With so much spirituality in the air, so much hope and goodwill, the holiday season always feels a little magical. If only we could hold onto that magic all year long!
            So, as we approach this sacred season, I add my wishes to the magic-filled air. I wish for religion to be a unifying force that affirms the sacred value of all people, rather than a weapon used against those we dislike or distrust. I wish for refugees to find safety, and for them to be treated with dignity wherever they may go. I wish for the LBGT community to remain vigilant in working to secure and protect equal rights in every area of life. I wish for peace to become more popular than violence. I wish, as Rumi did, that we will all fall in love with divine Love, by whatever Name we call It and in whichever tradition we celebrate It; and I wish for us all to seek to express that Love more and more in our lives. The approaching sacred season is a good time to start.

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins is the Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.
written for the Florida Agenda

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