Thursday, March 26, 2009


Note: Text in bold is from the pen of Baha’u’llah and is often recited as a prayer by Baha’is. Other notes appear in the first comment.

Blessed is the spot,

The cream sauce on your lapel, the stain on your underwear, the pimple on your nose, the melanoma on your back, the mark at the end of your last sentence,

and the house,

the house of blues, and the house of cards; the White House, built by slaves, and the plain brown house, assembled in a factory and delivered on a truck,

and the place,

West Orange New Jersey, Castroville Texas, Sanga-sanga East Kalimantan; your bedroom, your kitchen, your garage, your backyard, the stairwell of your apartment building; every highway overpass and every gas station, every quiet pond, empty theatre, whore house, slum, mortuary, coffee shop, garbage dump, cesspool,

and the city,

of ever-growing slums, of lights, of sin, of wind and brotherly love; sinking New Orleans, going down while the bands play on; frenetic Beijing, rising and racing to the unknown end,

and the heart,

of the newborn, of the newly abandoned, of the newly beaten and newly bruised, of the newlyweds and the sweet old neighbors, of every man on death row, and every child in kindergarten,

and the mountain,

of work on your desk, of shit in your marriage; melting Kilamanjaro and littered Everest; a rock pile through the eyes of a five-year old,

and the refuge,

from hunger, slander, war, or an afternoon rainstorm; the fort made of blankets and the home made of trash,

and the cave,

the mythical one of our origins and the real one, where thirty million bats sleep; Carlsbad desecrated with multicolored lights and concrete paths, and all the underwater, underground, hidden spaces,

and the valley,

of the shadow of death, of the small of your lover’s back, of the repeating, almost imperceptible falling and rising of land under the asphalt of Highway 80 as you drive across Ohio and Indiana; of the craters made by American bombs and bulldozers, of that quiet place you discovered once by accident,

and the land,

the poor, battered land,

and the sea,

in the womb, in the teacup, in the glass of Gatorade; dried up and almost no more in the middle of Asia; of tears, of waste, of misspent money; the sound of your blood, resonant in a shell; the place where DNA first formed,

and the island,

Galveston, where I grew up; Siberut, where I trekked through waste-deep mud; Mt. Desert, where I married my Larry; Santiago, covered with lava; Ibiza, with discos and topless beaches; Cuba, under embargo; Bikini Atoll, under the bomb,

and the meadow,

silent but for crickets and songbirds,

where mention of God hath been made,

our prayers and our blasphemies, of course; our swearing and muttering, all our giggling and hysterical laughter, but also the quiet and the darkness; the snow falling in the night in a place you have never heard of, because no person has ever been there; crystals of frozen water resting gently on the ground, sublimating back to atmosphere, a little each day,

and His praise glorified,

and Her praise sanctified,

Our mother, here, this earth, hallowed be thy name, give us this day our portion of sorrow and joy. Thy kingdom has come, has always been; whatever we are, still are we thine.

Heaven is under our feet.


Priscilla said...

Notes for the above piece:

My writing is interpolated between the phrases (in bold) of, “Blessed is the spot…” —an oft quoted passage by Baha’u’llah. In preparing this post I tried to find a source for the passage and could not. It is commonly published without specific attribution to a particular tablet or book. This makes me a wee bit suspicious of its provenance, though I have no particular reason to doubt its authenticity.


“Our mother, here, this earth, hallowed be thy name, give us this day our portion of sorrow and joy. Thy kingdom has come, has always been.”
— is (obviously) a reconstruction of/reference to the Lord’s Prayer.

“Whatever we are, still, are we thine.” — is an appropriation from Abdu’l-Baha Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha p.6.

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."— is from the famous but under-emulated Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Ch. 16, "The Pond in Winter."

Anonymous said...

It's very refreshing to hear a much-less-sugary-than-usual interpretation of "Blessed is the spot". I'm reminded, also, of...

Ron Sexsmith — God loves everyone
From Cobblestone Runway (2002)

God loves everyone
Like a mother loves her son
No strings at all
Never one to judge
Would never hold a grudge
'Bout what's been done
God loves everyone

There are no gates in heaven
Everyone gets in
Queer or straight
Souls of every faith
Hell is in our minds
Hell is in this life
But when it's gone
God takes everyone

Its love is like a womb
It’s like the air from room to room
It surrounds us all
The living and the dead
May we never lose the thread
That bound us all

The killer in his cell
The atheist as well
The pure of heart
And the wild at heart
Are all worthy of its grace
It's written in the face
Of everyone
God loves everyone

There's no need to be saved
No need to be afraid
Cause when it’s done
God takes everyone

Anonymous said...

Re. the release from sugariness:

"If faith is to remain true to experience and not become a sentimentalized blindness, it must be permeated by the tragic sense of life."

Gregory Wolfe, "The Tragic Sense of Life," Image, Spring 2009 (p. 6)

Brendan Cook said...

I'm impressed: this kind of interpretation of prayers is something I admire, especially because I doubt I could ever do it myself. What a beautiful and lovely contribution to Baha'i devotion!