My ordination anniversary comes around again and the memories arise. It was a long-awaited day and in the moment the baraka, the blessing poured through the shiny soul ordaining me there was nothing but that moment. There was light. There was love. There was …
Afterward, a friend who came to celebrate with me said she saw spiraling golden light and bluebirds swirling around Ahmaddin and I as the ceremony progressed.
This day nineteen days later it is Ahmaddin who’s on my mind and in my heart. Ahmaddian as’Salik AbdAllah was, is my, “spiritual grandfather.” Teacher of my teacher, guide of my guide, his living presence still returns to offer guidance, comfort, but always laughter. His physical presence was larger-than-life … a big man who could switch from gruff to gentle in a breath and yet always his heart shone through so that remains the strongest impression on this one.
My studies with him to be ordained as a cherag (literally, ‘light bearer’), or minister in the interfaith tradition of the Service of Universal Peace began shortly after settling into my studies at Holy Names College (now University) in the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality. Ahmaddin shared my respect for the founder and guiding light of ICCS, Matthew Fox. He told a story of how one day he took his flute and made his way on buses and trains and finally the uphill trek to Matt’s office. He was shown in and asked to wait. Matt came in, stressed, a bit preoccupied and asked how he could help Ahmaddin. The response was, “Allah told me to come play for you today.” With that, he began playing his flute. After some time, he finished and Matt was calm, peaceful, relaxed, smiling. They sat there quietly for a few minutes. Ahmdaddin put away his flute, thanked Matt for his time, and went back home.
This revealed then and reveals now just how we all are here to serve one another. When we say Yes to serve humanity, when we commit to being, “of service,” we cannot know how that will look. We can’t know what we will be led to do. We certainly can’t know just how our actions will affect others, but we have to trust we are acting in harmony with Divine Will and take the necessary steps.
Ahmaddin encouraged me to, “name drop,” his name and remind Matt of that day. I resisted as Matthew Fox was a bit of an imposing figure to me in those early days of my studies with him. Still, one day I worked up the courage and told him after a class one day that I had begun studying with Ahmaddin, who sent his love. He paused, smiled and said, “Did you know he played his flute for me one day?” We chatted a bit and he asked me to convey his greetings and love to Ahmaddin.
All this matters today to me because it remains a model of willing service. I saw how love in action touched both people in the moments of service offered and service received. It became a lesson in which more was taught than could be learned on that day … as is so common with our deepest learnings.
One’s life path twists and turns and we only truly understand where we’ve arrived by taking the time to pause, to look back in reflection at the path already travelled. The past isn’t behind us, it’s that which we’ve lived and remains part of this moment now. Without it, that which is about to be, the future has no foundation, no roots. We live in this present moment, yet it passes as soon as we realize it and becomes a new root, a new foundation stone.
Our ancestors are with us always, here and now in the teachings of many cultures. What they lived, what they learned is for us, here, now if we are willing to accept it. This moment both of reflection and of accepting what my dear heart-friend Ahmaddin has for me today, right now, is a gift he offered me years ago and it is one that has unfolded in the past few years first in my heart and then, when it was ready to grasp the information in its proper context, in my mind.
The Sufis call this Fana-fi-Sheikh … the experience of one’s teacher who is at present out of the body … the living presence of the teacher. This one is blessed to receive this and shares this only to encourage others to stop, breathe, and hold in their heart their loved ones, their teachers, their lovers, their friends of the heart who have left behind the body. It is worth the time no matter what one may experience in those moments.
Whatever comes after we say Yes to serve, it is true that it will be richer, more full, more wondrous than anything we may imagine. By following the promptings of our heart, we will be led, drawn, even pushed a bit at times into places with people that may well become times that memory will not be able to release. Like riding a roller coaster, each moment of Yes is that pause at the top of the hill just before gravity takes hold and we fly into the future.
This learning is just one that Ahmaddin offered me in those moments of swirling golden light and bluebirds. It is one to be cherished as are he, his memory in my heart, and his welcome living, and loving presence.