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sublime chess game

For the third morning I wake very early. The silence of Rowley is thick and soft as a blanket. Today I do not even try to go back to sleep. I pull on my fleecy purple socks, tiptoe down the dark stairs, and light a candle in the kitchen. I boil water and scratch Thomas the cat on the left side of his chin, where he can’t reach.

Back in late December I remember swimming laps and thinking to myself, “Where does this energy come from?” I knew then, as I know now, that it is not mine.

Later in the year, I forgot what I knew. When darkness sets in, I tend to take it personally. But if this buoyancy is a gift, surely the weight was, too.

I remember lines of Hafiz:

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.

(as translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

I sip my tea. I watch the steady flame. I don’t know if I’m saying thank you or asking forgiveness. Both, I think.

You got me again, God. Good one.

candle + tea

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