Beyond Ideas

I am at a military ceremony, awkwardly but willingly.

I respond to the crescendo from the loudspeaker in the stadium by standing, clapping, and shouting along with the crowd, listening to the rousing patriotic, symphonic march. Out of the forest and onto the open field, as theatrical smoke and fog fade, the battalion walks in measured tread in their graduation regalia.

“Where are you?” I ask myself as I scan the troops, my heart pounding.

We are held in suspense as they march by us, a blank gaze from their faces and perfect synchronicity in their steps. They halt and turn toward us. The loudspeaker barks, “You may now greet your soldier on the field.”

I want to run to my stepson, both to congratulate him for making it through bootcamp, and to make sure he is still intact.


Still now, back at home, I wrestle with accepting his decision to join the army. I hold the tension of my own bias in comparison to his. I reach for an excerpt from a Rumi poem. Like a mantra, I repeat it:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.  

Excerpt from “A Great Wagon” by Rumi

Different phrases carry emphasis each time I whisper it, feeling the sensations of the words on my lips. I place my fingers on the piano keys. “Here is the state I will reside in each time I greet you, my son. I am willing to listen from this place, to be open to you. I won’t go back to sleep. I promise.” My fingers move across the keys, and I play my promise.

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