girl seeker: sufism + the universe within

two weeks ago, when i was in asheville, i started reading a book by eric weiner – man seeks god. i also wrote a blog post announcing that i was going to journey with the author on his search for god, by blogging my own journey of contemplation as i read though the book. you can find that blog post {here}. each wednesday i want to process, share, and think about each chapter that i read as the author explores different religions/non-religions. last week i had just arrived to sweden + was in the midst of serious jetlag and shock. since i was so emotionally + physically spent, i decided to wait until this week to begin this journey. now, i am completely ready!

i must admit. i know nothing really about sufism, an ancient mystical part of islam, except for the fact that rumi, an inspiring poet + mystic from the 13th century, was a sufi. i have never read any of rumi’s works, but i have been inspired by his sayings + quotes that i have come across. in fact, i’ve thought of him as one of my go-to people when i need to find some words to bring me a breath of fresh air.

here are some amazing quotes. see what you think:

“do not feel lonely. the entire universe is within you.”

“stop acting so small. you are the entire universe in motion.”

“what you seek is seeking you.”

“love is the bridge between you + everything.”

“put your thoughts to sleep. do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. let go of thinking.”

“when you do things from you soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy”

the thing about rumi, and about sufism that seems so right to me, is the belief that everything lies within, that everything is connected – we are connected with the universe. if you have read my blog every now + then, then you may have caught on that within is something that i mention quite a lot.

here is how wikipedia describes rumi:

“it is often said that the teachings of rumi are ecumenical in nature. for rumi, religion was mostly a personal experience and not limited to logical arguments or perceptions of the senses. creative love, or the urge to rejoin the spirit to divinity, was the goal towards which every thing moves. the dignity of life, in particular human life (which is conscious of its divine origin and goal), was important.”

it is a faith system that focuses on the inner life, while living in the midst of the world. think, concentration, balance, awareness. in a word: mindfulness. it is learning to shut down the left side of our brains – the analytical, rational, “western” – for just and bit to tune into the right side where we feel wholeness, creativity, and inspiration. actually, it’s really about learning to balance the two. and learning how to do that is wisdom, or aligning ourselves with the divine that is within us. that is the goal.

and soon, everything becomes sacred because you actually love everything =  you see not only the entire universe within yourself, you then see entire universe in everyone + in everything.

and that sounds like heaven to me.

winter tree

onwards + upwards! xoxo

i’m busy. hoping to get rich.

my entire bedroom has an orange-pink glow to it as the sun sets. it’s warm & calming. i’m under the covers, computer’s on my lap, and the cat is trying to figure out where she is gonna settle down – or if she’s gonna settle down. i tackled and accomplished most of my to-do list today, and i’m feeling pretty good about that; but i have another one waiting for me tomorrow. filled with new & exciting things…

yes! i’ve got a few meetings filling up my morning. one of which is to plan a theme and activities/classes/moments of reflection & discussion for the camp that i am working next week. it’ll be good to get some things decided, then i can really focus on specific details = what i’m gonna talk about with the youth/how i am gonna plan some mentoring/opportunities for spiritual moments during the camp.

then, my 3rd meeting of the day is with a woman from somewhere in the middle east (i can’t remember where). she moved here during the past year with her husband and has been studying swedish. i met her in the fall and she was working really hard, but could not talk in swedish. i saw her last week and wow, what a difference! she has really picked up a lot of swedish. impressive. but, the really impressive thing is that during the summer, while she has a break from swedish classes, she is studying english. but, she’s really unsure of her english and wants to be better, understanding that it is important for her to know english since it’s spoken all around the world. well, we were chatting with each other and i offered to meet her once a week to just talk in english with her and help her with her english assignments, if she wants. so, tomorrow, we have our first little tutoring session at the cafe in the church where i work. i’m really excited! i can easily help people with english, and i’ve offered it to other teenagers or adults before, but this is the first time it’s actually happening. why not help with what i can?! can’t wait to meet her tomorrow!

on a related note, this morning i got my little email from the universe & it said this:

It’s not how much one gets paid, Liz, but how much they give, that makes them rich. Bling, bling ~ The Universe

wow. how true that is. and how rich i feel when i am able to know & use who i am to try to make a difference somewhere. when i know who i am, follow the beat of my heart, and listen to my soul, then opportunities just come. and ironically, the more that i am true to myself, the more life becomes about how i can be used. you’d think that it’s selfish to listen to your soul, to follow your own dreams. but, instead, it is freeing. whenever i find that i focus inward, seeking peace for myself, i find that i am thrust out into the world even more – and perhaps can be used to create peace. the reason for that is, i believe, because of our connection as humans. the more i am in touch with my true self, my inner self, the divine spark within… the more i am in touch with others. the spark is the same in us all. in other words, love and peace is what we all seek. and i do not have true love and peace unless my neighbor does too.

two weeks ago i had a weekend camp retreat for my youth. one of the things that i didn’t mention in my previous posts was a connection i made with two older teenagers from the middle east. the two teenagers live in a group home because they are refugees from their home countries. they’re here in sweden on their own. refugee children. without their families.

well, a man who works with them contacted the church where i work to ask if there was any work that we could do together… if there was anything that we had to offer these teens. the other minister i work with suggested this camp. so, after a meeting and some email contact, 2 of the teens who live at this home came to the camp. they were amazing and fantastic, and i was so impressed. they were in a completely new setting, surrounded by swedish youth & adults (and me!) they had never met before, experiencing things they had never experienced before. and yet, they were kind, friendly, outgoing, and simply wonderful to have during the weekend. i felt so blessed and thankful that everything worked out – at least that’s what i thought.

then i got an email from the man who works at the group home. he attached a letter that one of the teens had written (in really good swedish!) about the weekend. as i read this 17 year old’s words, tears streamed down my face. he wrote that he felt welcomed, appreciated, needed, and he had a great time. he commented on what we did, how he felt, and that he sees these youth now as his sisters & brothers.

folks, this is how world peace is created. by simply being together. these 2 teens are muslim & from the middle east. we were all westerners, coming from a christian perspective. but none of that mattered at all because we all accepted each other as we were. that was how determined we would be. and all the teens followed right along. brothers & sisters. all accepted. all respected. i am overwhelmed and humbled that we had a chance to meet these incredible, strong teenagers. you’d better believe we are already planning how we can continue to work together & support each other, because they have plenty to offer us. it’s not just about us giving them help. i can’t even begin to explain the love & joy they gave us.

these are the moments in life when i remember why i am here. and by here, i mean alive. on this earth. i remember that my quest for peace is real and important. and that hope does exist. just get 16 amazing teenagers together from different places in the world and watch them love each other. there is a ton of hope for this world. and i am so very amazed that my work (whether it’s writing or the work i am paid for) allows me to focus on finding ways to work with others in order to help this world be the place it was always meant to be.

with all my heart and soul, i wish you a day, a week, a year, a lifetime full of moments of peace and love.