A love letter to God? Poem by Rumi

A love letter to God? Poem by Rumi

A poem by the Persian poet Rumi (13th century)

 

Oh Beloved,

take me.

Liberate my soul.

Fill me with your love and

release me from the two worlds.

If I set my heart on anything but you

let fire burn me from inside.

 

Oh Beloved,

take away what I want.

Take away what I do.

Take away what I need.

Take away everything

that takes me from you.

 

 


All images © 2017 Yosny Castro (https://www.instagram.com/yosnyc/)

Find this poem and more of Rumi’s work here: http://www.rumi.org.uk/

 

Was I really naive?

Was I really naive?

“I never use public transportation in Israel,” he tells me, as he’s typing on his computer.

We met on the ground. I asked him for directions as our gate changed at short notice. He described the way in detail, explaining exactly where I needed to go, to then tell me to follow him, as he was taking the same plane.

Oddly enough, we are now sharing an arm rest, as our seats are next to each other. And even though we have never met before, our brief exchange at the airport seems to have broken the ice enough for it to be eligible to start a conversation.

“You should avoid buses,” he warns me.
If there is anything I do not want right now, it is a conversation.

“I always take a taxi, where ever I go. But I never leave Tel Aviv,” he shares.
As he is talking, I’m nodding, trying to be respectful the way my mamma raised me, yet not too engaging, ’cause I’m just not that good of a person. He talks on different topics; safety, work, politics, sharing his knowledge with me who isn’t capable of absorbing half the information he lets me in on.

He wouldn’t notice it, but I am a bundle of hot mess right now. Saying goodbye to my parents who I won’t be seeing in months was hard. I’m still caught in the emotions of leaving. Could I please have a moment to let these tears out?

Could I please have a moment to let these tears out?

“I’ve been to Tel Aviv over twenty times, wouldn’t recommend going to Jerusalem, though,” he adds.
I smile politely, as I sip on my coke, staring into my plastic cup, trying to avoid far too close eye contact.
“So where are you going?”, he asks.
Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on me. I think to myself. Here we go.

“Jerusalem,” I answer concisely.

He smiles, breathing out loudly enough for me to hear it. The type of smile that seems to be laughing at me rather than with me. The type that in my mind should make me feel belittled, yet at this point I’m uber emotional and therefore could be wrong.

“First time?” he asks.

“Yes,” I respond, being truthfully honest to a stranger. (Even though in this case, I wouldn’t consider a little white lie to be of sin).

He gives a short expression of laughter.
“Oh, good luck with that,” he responds. I can hear his thoughts through his half bald head. “Poor woman, so naive, cute little thing. Poor little woman.”

Poor woman, so naive, cute little thing. Poor little woman.

After explaining him that I will be volunteering in Ein Karem, a little village near Jerusalem, trying to justify my plans as if I needed to, I realize that this conversation is not taking me anywhere. It is not bringing me any kind of calm, in fact if anything I am starting to doubt myself more. As he is typing and mumbling a few words that I choose not take in, I lean into my seat and close my eyes.

Was I really naive? Was I doing the right thing? The answers I do not know, but with every second that passes, I’m getting closer.

Photo by Yosny Castro
https://www.instagram.com/yosnyc/

 

Leaving Home

Leaving Home

With every second that passes I am leaving into an adventure that is taking me in.

I’ve procrastinated my way from the kitchen to my bedroom, back to the kitchen and finally find myself sitting on the living-room carpet where Seb is watching a documentary on the second world war. He has rolled down the shutters to darken the room. He hates it when sunlight or any kind of light reflects on the TV screen. Mom hates it when he watches TV during the day, such a waste, she says.

She is out running errands, it’s Saturday. He knows exactly to turn it off as soon as he hears her car enter the driveway. Seb is my little brother. He’s 10 years younger than me and 13 years younger than my older brother which automatically gives him the role of being baby of the family, a title he strongly disapproves of. He’s a special kid in so many different ways. So much smarter than any teenager I know. He knows the History Channel better than I know myself. He will Wikipedia information on historical events, absorbing all the facts he could possibly fit into that smart brain of his and impresses with Fun Facts that no one else seems to know. He makes jokes that I don’t understand but I smile and he very much knows that I don’t know but lets me get away with it anyway.

I don’t feel like joking at the moment if I’m completely honest. I don’t feel like anything really. I am overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done before tomorrow. The clothes that need to find their way from my bed, the washing machine and the floor to my suitcase, the emails I still have to write, the bank, the health insurance form, the books I needed to return to the library weeks ago. All these tasks are seeking my attention, things I cannot do from the other side of the world.

He is deeply engaged in his documentary. It’s too dark in here for him to notice the tears running down my face. I’m leaving tomorrow. My family just moved into this house two months ago. The light bulbs don’t even have shades yet, the cables still hanging from the wall. The area is beautiful. The street leads up to the forest. In the mornings you can hear birds chirping. It’s peaceful here. The nicest place we’ve ever lived in. My parents worked hard for this. Years of hard work went into being able to afford this house. I don’t feel like leaving. I don’t and deep down I do. It’s always been difficult for me to leave.

It’s always been difficult for me to leave.

I remember the many times that I moved out and the many times I would come back home. My family and I are close. When you are a foreigner, far away from your roots, you strongly hold onto the familiar. We’ve always had each other. It seemed like the only stability and consistency we could hold onto. We never had family living close by, not even on the same continent. We were the familiar in a country that even after years never quite felt like home. And then you grow up and you’re supposed to open those wings and fly but mine weren’t sure, never felt stable enough to jump off the edge completely. I wanted to leave and to experience the world, I did and yet I felt this duty to hold onto the only part that had ever been safe- family.

I wanted to leave and to experience the world, I did and yet I felt this duty to hold onto the only part that had ever been safe…

“I’m going to miss you.”, I say as I look to his direction. It’s quiet for a few seconds, my words haven’t reached his attention yet. ‘Okay’, he replies. He’s never been good in expressing or recognizing emotions. ‘No, I’m really going to miss you.’ I repeat myself and break out into a louder cry. He turns to me and seems surprised. ‘Are you crying?’ He asks me as if he needed an explanation for what was happening. ‘Why are you crying?’, he wants to know as he reaches for the remote control to pause Hitler’s Occupation of Poland. ‘Cara.., no reason to cry’ he says. I tell him, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m leaving you guys behind, I don’t know why I’m even doing this. I’m freakin’ scared”, I say. “I’m really going to miss you”, my cry becomes unstoppable.

I feel so overwhelmed by this decision of leaving my family behind, to go to a country in the Middle East that I know so little about. What was I thinking in my decision-making process. Why did I agree to do this, why did I already buy those plane tickets, I ask myself in the midst of my distress. ‘Everything is going to be okay’ he says, as he gives me a big Seb-hug. The type of hug in which he holds my head in his arms, enforcing both comfort and suffocation at once. ‘Everything is going to be fine.” He reassures me. ‘You promise?’ I ask, remaining in the same position even though he has already let go. ‘Promise. And in case anything happens to you and you’re in the hospital fighting for your life, mom and dad can always get on a plane and pick you up,’ he explains in a very serious, analytical manner. I laugh. Snot dripping down my chin, my ponytail didn’t survive the love, but the irony of everything being fine and dying in the hospital cracks me up in a way that allows both crying and laughter to overcome me.

‘And Cara, your heart is gold’ he laughs. We both laugh together. It’s a joke only him and I share. A joke that we mention to cheer the other up when needed. He asks politely if he can continue to watch TV. I nod. As he continues to watch, I look at him and realise that it’s happening. I’m leaving. There’s no way out, no point in fighting it. With every second that passes I am leaving into an adventure that is taking me in. And silently I know, I’ve been waiting years for this.

How it all began…

How it all began…

My journey started 25 years ago in King Williams Town, a city in South-Africa’s Eastern Cape, where I was born to a South-African dad and a Zimbabwean mom.

We soon moved to Maidstone, a little town in KwaZulu-Natal,
where I only spent a few childhood years yet the memories that were made during this time are to this day some of my dearest. It was amazing. My mom was a primary school teacher, my dad an engineer, we had a house with a big garden, dogs and cats and even went to church on Sundays. We seemed to have this life thing seriously sorted.

Looking back, my big brother and I were inseparable. Everywhere he went, I followed – which would drive him utterly nuts. And I still do that, I drive him very close to the insane but that’s what little sister do. Plus, after years of having been told horror stories in the dark, I surely have earned my rights. I honestly had the best days with him. I remember playing cops and robbers outside, swimming in the local pool, watching 90’s television – as much as we were allowed to – Baywatch, Gladiators, Goosebumps, Spicegirls – you name it, we binged it, staying up long after bedtime, getting into trouble for being our naughty little selves and him always taking the blame, always defending me.

Things seemed carefree. There was a structure that seemed so indestructible, so safe. I never thought of things ever changing. I did not know it then but this life would later become the before part.

I did not know it then but this life would later become the before part.

When I was in first grade, my parents made the decision to move the family across the globe. I remember my dad showing us a book of Germany, both my brother and I sharing his lap, looking at pictures of old castles, not completely understanding what it was that he was trying to say. At the time it wasn’t clear to me that moving meant leaving. As a child and even during my teenage years I could not fully comprehend what the motives, the ultimate reasons for the move were but later on it would start to make more sense. My dad had been offered a good job at an international company and even though I believed we were living the perfect life, things must have also been difficult. The discussions my parents must have had when we were fast asleep, the sleepless nights, the worries they shared when we weren’t around. South-Africa struggles with high numbers of crime which has also affected my family, causing great loss and everlasting pain.

So we moved to Germany and out of all places we moved to Ruppertsberg, a small village in the Palatinate region with a population of about 1,000. And I’m telling you, everything was different, the houses, the streets, the people, the food, the smell, the language, we – we were different. And me oh my did we have them people confused. We were the Africans in small town Germany, foreigners, strangers and oh so far from home…

Reflecting on it now. I don’t know if my parents would have made that move had they known how hard it would become. How hard it is to leave the only life you have ever known behind. To leave your friends, your family. To get through the first years in which internet was not yet a thing and the only contact home were letters or occasional very expensive international phone calls. No, to make that decision all over again, I don’t know if they would.

Nevertheless, the after-part was filled with incredibly joyful events, my younger brother was born, we got to experience a new culture, a new way of life. We were able to go on holidays in different European countries and mostly we experienced a security that we did not know existed before. Simple things like leaving the windows open even at times when we weren’t home, seemed so neat. We felt protected and therefore experienced a different kind of freedom. I loved the fact that my friends and I could ride our bikes back home in the middle of the night after a party or a Winefest, not fearing any negative consequences. Or being able to live in a society in which the social and healthcare system works. We got to experience a safety that might have been worth the sacrifice.

When you leave your home and spend a considerable amount of time in a new country, this new country becomes your present but it never replaces your roots. And this strange thing happens, where you always compare the now with the past. You long for it, yet when you go back, you realize that the memories you have carefully treasured over the years and the reality might not correspond anymore.

To be continued…

With love,

Cara