Posts Tagged ‘love’

The Zahir

August 4, 2011
The Zahir

The Zahir

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? — Luke 15:4

We can harness the energy of the winds, the seas, the sun. But the day man learns to harness the energy of love, that will be as important as the discovery of fire. — Teilhard de Chardin

Others will dream that I am mad, and I [will dream] of the Zahir. When all men on earth think day and night of the Zahir, which one will be a dream and which a reality, the earth or the Zahir? — Jorge Luis Borges

I accept the Zahir, and will let it lead me into a state of either holiness or madness. — Paulo Coelho

Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused. — Paulo Coelho

The person you love leaves, walks out of your life. You are heart broken. Why?

You walk down the street, you see her, your heart stops. Then you realise it is not her.

Why is the sun shining? Why is it not dull to match your mood? Why are people smiling, looking happy? Do they not realise your heart is in torment? But then on second thoughts, they do not look happy, they are not smiling, maybe they have problems too.

Your phone rings. Once again your heart stops. But no, it is not her.

The pleasures of life are gone, your life is empty.

Bob Geldof in a recent reflection on his life, spoke of the unbelievable pain when his wife left him. One way he was able to cope was to go into a studio and lay down tracks for a new album.

Meeting Myself Coming Back
Bob Geldof: ‘Life without love is meaningless’

You think of suicide. What point is there in going on?

Thoughts go round and round in your mind.

You loved her more than you thought possible. Could she not see that? Why did she say that not matter how much you loved her it was nothing to how much she loved you, then walk off like a thief in the night?

You would give anything to see her lovely smile, to see the love in her eyes, to see her face light up when she sees you.

Slowly slowly you are going mad.

The Zahir is an Islamic tradition. A thought occupies your mind until you can think of nothing else. It is the route to holiness or madness.

When I had nothing more to lose, I was given everything. When I ceased to be who I am, I found myself. When I experienced humiliation and yet kept on walking, I understood that I was free to choose my destiny. Perhap’s there’s something wrong with me, I don’t know, perhaps my marriage was a dream I couldn’t understand whilst it lasted. All I know is that even though I can live without her, I would still like to see her again, to say what I never said when we were together: I love you more than I love myself. If I could say that, then I could go on living, at peace with myself, because that love has redeemed me.

Divine love is that from God.

The Zahir is a love story, it describes the pain a man experiences when his wife leaves him. A man whose life not dissimilar to that of the author Paulo Coelho. It is a journey, a journey to find the lost wife but also a spiritual journey of understanding into himself.

Critics do not like Paulo Coelho. They write the same garbage, only the title of the book changes. One of the worst was a review of The Zahir by Adam Mars-Jones in The Observer. Less a review, more a vitriolic hate-filled attack on Paulo Coelho. With crass comments like ‘Paulo Coelho hurtling towards stupidity as he reaches for wisdom in The Zahir’ and ‘Paulo Coelho writes because he wants to be loved. I read because I want to be interested. At this point it’s hard to say which of us is the more disappointed’, you get the picture! And so it goes on and on and on …

The Zahir was my introduction to Paulo Coelho. I was sitting outside a pub by the River Wey in Guildford and got chatting with a beautiful girl who was engrossed in The Zahir. I was curious what had her so engrossed. At the time Paulo Coelho was an unknown author to me.

I was sufficiently impressed by The Zahir, that I walked into a bookshop, bought their entire stock of hardbacks, then gave them all away to friends as gifts.

For my lovely friend Sian who I miss.

Love Wins
The Pilgrimage
The Alchemist
By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept
The Witch of Portobello

The Angel on Earth

April 3, 2011

In heaven there was a child ready to be born. One day the child asked God, “They tell me you are going to send me to earth tomorrow but I am very scared, how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?” God replied, “Among the many angels we have, I have chosen one for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you when you arrive on earth.”

The child said, “dear God, here in Heaven I don’t do anything else but sing and smile. That’s all I need to make me happy!” God replied, “Your angel will sing for you every day. And you will feel your angel’s love and be happy.”

“But”, said the child, “How am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me, if I don’t know the language that humans speak?” “Don’t worry”, God said, “Your angel with love and patience will teach you how to speak.” The child looked up at God saying, “And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?” God smiled at the child saying, “Your angel will teach you how to pray.”

The child said, “I’ve heard on earth there are bad people. Who will protect me?” God replied, “Your angel will defend you, even if it means risking her life!” The child looked sad, saying, “But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.” God replied, “Your angel will always talk to you about me, even though I will always be next to you.”

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from earth could already be heard.
Just before leaving the child asked softly, “Oh God, if I am about to leave now please tell me my angel’s name!” God replied, Your angel’s name is of no importance, you will simply call her Mother…….

This a traditional tale that was told to me by my beautiful grandmother – I would like to dedicate this story to all the mothers whose unconditional love is an inspiration.

— Priya Sher

Thank you Priya for this lovely tale for Mother’s Day.

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

April 3, 2011
little girl with flowers

little girl with flowers

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt—
But that it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking—
I looked . . .
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.

— Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

Thank you Jane and Paulo for this lovely poem for Mother’s Day.

The Angel on Earth

An atom’s weight of good

March 31, 2011


(On the Day of Judgment) all humankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their (past) deeds. Then whoever has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil shall (also) see it. — The Holy Quran, 99:6-8

At his press conference to mark St Joseph’s Day and to explain why he was hosting a party with friends that evening, Paulo Coelho said the question God would ask would not be of our sin but of our love. He also quoted from the Quran.

Love an ocean with invisible shores

March 30, 2011

Love an ocean with invisible shores, with no shores. if you are wise you will not swim in it. — Sufi Poem

Music ‘Fill Your Sails’ by Public Symphony from their album Inspire.

For my lovely friend Sian.

Time to give, time to receive

March 14, 2011
random acts of kindness

random acts of kindness

It is important to know when we can give attention and when we need attention.

Often we are inclined to give, give, give without every asking anything in return.

We may think this is a sign of generosity or even heroism.

But it might be little else than a proud attitude that says:

“I don’t need help from others. I only want to give.”

When we keep giving without receiving we burn out quickly … there is a time to give and a time to receive.

We need equal time for both if we want to live healthy lives.

— Henri Nouwen in Bread for the Journey

For my lovely friend Sian.

Also see

The Sin of Pride

The Hound of Heaven

March 1, 2011

I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears
From those strong feet that followed, followed after
But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat, and a Voice beat,
More instant than the feet:
All things betray thee who betrayest me.

I pleaded, outlaw–wise by many a hearted casement,
curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities,
For though I knew His love who followe d,
Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,
I should have nought beside.
But if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of his approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars,
Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
The pale ports of the moon.

I said to Dawn — be sudden, to Eve — be soon,
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover.
Float thy vague veil about me lest He see.
I tempted all His servitors but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him, their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue,
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind,
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue,
Or whether, thunder-driven,
They clanged His chariot thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn of their feet,
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following feet, and a Voice above their beat:
Nought shelters thee who wilt not shelter Me.

I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of Man or Maid.
But still within the little childrens’ eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me.
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair,
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature’s
Share with me, said I, your delicate fellowship.
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning with our Lady Mother’s vagrant tresses,
Banqueting with her in her wind walled palace,
Underneath her azured dai:s,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice, lucent weeping out of the dayspring.

So it was done.
I in their delicate fellowship was one.
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies,
I knew all the swift importings on the wilful face of skies,
I knew how the clouds arise,
Spume d of the wild sea-snortings.
All that’s born or dies,
Rose and drooped with,
Made them shapers of mine own moods, or wailful, or Divine.
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the Even,
when she lit her glimmering tapers round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
and its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.
Against the red throb of its sunset heart,
I laid my own to beat
And share commingling heat.

But not by that, by that was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know what each other says,
these things and I; In sound I speak,
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor step-dame, cannot slake my drouth.
Let her, if she would owe me
Drop yon blue-bosomed veil of sky
And show me the breasts o’ her tenderness.
Never did any milk of hers once bless my thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase, with unperturbe d pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
And past those noise d feet, a Voice comes yet more fleet:
Lo, nought contentst thee who content’st nought Me.

Naked, I wait thy Love’s uplifted stroke. My harness, piece by piece,
thou’st hewn from me
And smitten me to my knee,
I am defenceless, utterly.
I slept methinks, and awoke.
And slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours,
and pulled my life upon me.
Grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years–
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst like sunstarts on a stream.
Yeah, faileth now even dream the dreamer
and the lute, the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies in whose blossomy twist,
I swung the Earth, a trinket at my wrist,
Have yielded, cords of all too weak account,
For Earth, with heavy grief so overplussed.
Ah! is thy Love indeed a weed,
albeit an Amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must, Designer Infinite,
Ah! must thou char the wood ‘ere thou canst limn with it ?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust.
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver upon the sighful branches of my

Such is. What is to be ?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind ?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds,
Yet ever and anon, a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity.
Those shaken mists a space unsettle,
Then round the half-glimpse d turrets, slowly wash again.
But not ‘ere Him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal; Cypress crowned.
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether Man’s Heart or Life it be that yield thee harvest,
Must thy harvest fields be dunged with rotten death ?

Now of that long pursuit,
Comes at hand the bruit.
That Voice is round me like a bursting Sea:
And is thy Earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me.
Strange, piteous, futile thing;
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of Naught (He said).
And human love needs human meriting —
How hast thou merited,
Of all Man’s clotted clay, the dingiest clot.
Alack! Thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art.
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save me, save only me?
All which I took from thee, I did’st but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms.
All which thy childs mistake fancies as lost,
I have stored for thee at Home.
Rise, clasp my hand, and come.
Halts by me that Footfall.
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest,
I am He whom thou seekest.
Thou dravest Love from thee who dravest Me.

— Francis Thompson

´The Hound of Heaven´ (1893) is a poem of five stanzas: the Soul´s Flight, the Soul´s Quest, the Soul´s Impasse, the Soul´s Arrest, and finally the Soul´s Surrender, the hunt is over.

The Hounds of Hell, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Hound of Heaven?

God cajoles, prods, pushes. The Grand Chess Master at work.

Jesus saw himself as a shepherd (Luke 15:3-7, NIV):

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Santiago was an Andalucian shepherd boy. He worried over a lost sheep. [see The Alchemist]

Francis Thompson (1859-1907) was a failed Catholic Priest, a failed doctor, a failed soldier, a loveless childhood. He was found lost in London by a Christian couple who recognised the power of his poetry. R Moffat Gautrey wote of ´The Hound of Heaven´ in The Tremendous Lover (1932). John Stott discusses in Why I am Christian which I borrowed from the Scandinavian Church en Puerto de la Cruz en Tenerife.

For my lovely friend Sian who I am missing.

And each man kills the thing he loves

February 27, 2011
The Judas Kiss - Gustave Doré

The Judas Kiss – Gustave Doré

And each man kills the thing he loves
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

— Oscar Wilde

Why is it that we kill that which we love?

That is the task Paulo Coelho is set by his Master J, a Master of The Tradition. These few lines, a slight variance of a verse from The Ballad Of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde is the only help that Paulo Coelho gets.

That we kill that we love is a curse. Paulo Coelho has to break that curse. It is a quest in which he is forced to face his past. The curse can be broken, but only if he completes the task.

It´s for love. For victory. And for the glory of God.

As Paulo learns from the Valkeryies, the only was to break the curse is to: Break a pact. Accept forgiveness. And make a bet.

We all have a pact with defeat. We have to learn to take risks, break the pact with defeat.

– The Valkeryies

Top story in PoeticHeart34 Daily (Saturday 12 March 2011)

Footprints in the Sand

February 24, 2011
footprints in the sand

footprints in the sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

— Mary Stevenson, 1936

‘Footprints in the Sand’ has been seen in print by people the world over since the late 1940s. All that time no author has been credited with this immortal work, only ‘Author Anonymous’ has appeared at the bottom.

For many years handwritten copies were distributed by Mary to those who needed something to give them comfort at a low point in their lives. It was sometime after this that friends of Mary saw it in print and wondered why she wasn’t given credit for writing it. An attorney at that time told her that it would be very hard to prove her the author since it had been used by many publishers of religious materials and greeting cards. Mary wrote ‘Footprints’ in 1936 when she was very young and knew nothing of copyrighting. Discouraged she didn’t pursue it any further.

In 1984 while cleaning out the garage to prepare to move from her house, in a small suitcase, among her other poems, she rediscovered a very old handwritten copy that she thought was lost. It was one of the copies Mary had made and dated 1939, just three years after she wrote the original. Later that year the U.S. copyright office awarded her a copyright for ‘Footprints in the Sand’ 48 years after it was written. It was another 11 years before her handwritten copy was authenticated by a forensic specialist as to its age. Margaret Fishback-Powers and many others have tried to falsely claim authorship, but none can show significant proof such as this.

Many people misunderstand ‘Footprints in the Sand’. They think when the see only one set of footprints in the sand, God has abandoned them during their time of suffering, whereas God is carrying them during their hour of need.

The One Big Question
What’s So Amazing About Grace
The Alchemist
By the River Piedra I sat Down
I have no idea where I am going


February 17, 2011

The One Big Question - Bishop Michael Baughen

The One Big Question - Bishop Michael Baughen

Suffering is part of the human condition. — Bishop Michael Baughen

Why do we suffer? Why is there suffering in the world?

In The Alchemist, Santigo learns that people suffer when they do not follow their dream, they listen to people around them rather than listen to what their heart tells them. [see The Alchemist]

People who fail to follow their dreams eventually learn to accept their lot, eventually they even forget their dreams, forget they ever had dreams, but their lives is the worse because of it.

In The Zahir, Paulo Coelho puts into words how you feel when the one you love, who you thought loved you, leaves. Having felt that pain, his words describe what I could not.

Why are there people starving in the world whilst others have obscene amounts of wealth? Why did the thug security in Bahrain fire on unarmed protesters? Why twenty years ago on St Valentine’s Day did the Americans bomb a shelter in Baghdad? Why is it that the decent people seem to suffer whilst the evil ones prosper?

If there is a just God, why does he allow these things to happen?

It was to address these issues, maybe the most difficult issue for people who want believe in a just and loving God, that Bishop Michael Baughen (former Bishop of Chester and Rector of All Souls Langham Place) gave a talk at St Peter’s Church.

Suffering is the BIG question. It is the killer question. Why? Why? Why?

Suffering is the great divider. It either drives us into the hands of God or makes us hate God. There is no sitting on the fence.

Why did my brother die before me, die a very painful death?

We pray to God, please God, make it a nice sunny day, I am having a picnic. Please let me pass my exams. Please get me a sexy girlfriend.

God is not a kindly old man, handing out the sweets.

Why did God not intervene when something bad was going to happen?

God is not a control freak. But let us assume God did intevene. What then? Something worse may then happen, we have set in motion a different path, the law of unintended connsequences.

In The Valkyries, Paulo Colho describes a different path being set in motion. We should pause and reflect, it happened for a reason.

The trenches in the First World War, is that not a good reason not to believe in God?

No, it is a reason not to believe in Man. It was Man in the form of Generals and Politicians who sent men in their hundreds of thousands to their deaths.

God gave us free will. Or would we rather be robots or automatons?

In My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk the devil says he is bored. There is little for him to do, as Man can do evil without his intervention.

Many people died in Haiti. That was due to an earthquake yes, but is was also due to bad housing. People were killed by houses collapsing, not by the earthquake.

A ship is safe when it remains in a port, but that is not why we build ships.

Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates. Without the movement of these tectonic plates and various other Gaian control mechanisms there would be no life on Earth.

Why am I being punished? What have I done wrong?

Why am I not being healed? Is that not the power of prayer?

Man sets up God in his own image, then uses that image to deny the existence of God as God does not fullfil his expectations.

To suffer is part of the Human Condition. It is what we do, how we handle suffering, that determines the depth of our faith.

A sword is tempered by going through fire.

The One Big Question
– ‘I Thirst’
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations
What’s So Amazing About Grace