Monday, April 8, 2013

A fable about dust and pearls

Old Persian legends tell of Majnun, a crazy-in-love young man whose life is wholly devoted to searching for his beloved Layla, from whom he has long been separated. Majnun wanders the desert, his clothes ragged, his hair matted and filthy. He becomes so completely exiled from the niceties of human society that his only companions are wild animals. People shun him and laugh at him, even though many recognize that his dedication to love actually brings him closer to the divine.

One day, a man noted for his piety comes upon Majnun sifting through dirt in the middle of the road. “You claim such devotion to your beloved,” the holy man scoffs. “How can you grovel here, searching for such a pearl as she in the midst of all this rubbish?”

“Ah,” Majnun explains, “I seek Layla everywhere, so that one day I may find her somewhere.”

The story of Majnun’s undying, active love for Layla gives us a model for our own relationship to the places we have loved and lost and from which we often feel a painful exile. We can choose not only not to avoid these broken places but to actually seek them out. And, once there, we can search for the pearls.

The pearl, the essence of glory and beauty and love, can be anywhere—so we look everywhere. In this way we remember that all parts of the Earth, like all people, are essential parts of the beauty of the whole. Searching for what we love, even in a garbage heap, we cannot help but recognize that even what has been used up and tossed out is valuable, since our hands and hearts must sort through it to come upon what is precious.

May you find the pearls in a wounded place you love on the Global Earth Exchange this year, Saturday, June 22.

And, in the search, may you find pearls in yourself as well.