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Cast All Your Votes for Dancing

I know the voice of depression

Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life

Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now

And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way

And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions' beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved

And, my dear,

From the most insignificant movements

Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins

That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,

But then drag you for days

Like a broken man

Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.

Learn what actions of yours delight Him,

What actions of yours bring freedom

And Love.

Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,

My ears wish my head was missing

So they could finally kiss each other

And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions' beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements

Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,

Be wise.

Cast all your votes for Dancing!

This is a rendering of a poem of Hafiz, by Daniel Ladinsky, from his book "I heard God Laughing", which is my first favorite Christmas present of this year. I fell in love with Hafiz's works during Shalem's Spiritual Guidance program, and am enamored still. His poetry reaches in and touches a place in me that few words do, leaving me desperate to share the feeling with everyone I know and love: the feeling of sitting beside a fire with a close friend, telling stories of the deepest love of your life. The Friend. The Sun. Love. My Beloved. Dancing. They are all names for God, names I want to speak often.

It's the morning after the Winter Solstice; the longest, darkest night of the year. I wanted to do something to commemorate the night, but it seems like all I can do this fall is sit still and breathe and move my body gently. Sometimes that's enough commemoration.

I've had the chance to sit in spiritual companionship with several beautiful women this month, all of whom are striving to bring healing and authenticity into their lives, in one way or another. Their stories differ, their paths are their own, but they share this in common: they are all strong. And they all seek a path where depression's call is ignored and the invitations of life-ruining habits are discarded, unopened. They seek a path of freedom and love. Is this not what we all seek?

As the year draws to a close and we push over the threshold of darkness, Hafiz' poem is my prayer for myself and for each of you.

May the voice of depression be a quiet whisper,

unheard amidst the joyful cacophony of your life.

May the invitations of life-ruining habits be unread and discarded,

like yet another offer for a loan you do not need and cannot pay.

May you know the strength that you carry,

and believe in your ability to bloom.

May you grasp each moment of life with both hands and not let go,

until the Sun's holy light brings warmth and clarity and growth.

May you learn which actions delight your Creator,

bringing you freedom and beauty and love

and may you invest only in those actions,

leaving behind the counterfeit pleasure of inauthenticity.

May you know the wisdom of the light within you

and understand the holiness of your own body.

And may you always Dance!

Blessings and peace be yours.

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