On finding one of His wonderful, wild companions

By Marcia Miller

Of all the poems I have read in yoga class over the years, the poet I come back to more than any other is Hafiz. His poems (especially as translated by Daniel Ladinsky) are delectable—full of mind-blowing endings, words that invite us to experience an exuberant freedom and a lot of humor. His poems often bring tears of tenderness to my eyes as well as huge guffaws.

And, it was with great disappointment that I received my first Hafiz book. At that time in my life I thought I should enjoy poetry but didn’t. The poets I had read didn’t speak to me or any of my questions. I was burning with spiritual questions from trying to live life as a yogi, far from my teachers in a world before yoga studios and wasn’t finding what I wanted. Then, a student came in bearing a gift. This wasn’t just any student, this was Katherine Dufrane, a woman I admired so much that I was a little shy to be her yoga teacher. She was a well-known energy healer in town and seemed much more enlightened than I was. And here she was finding something useful in my classes and now she was even giving me a gift! I was SO honored and excited and even a little nervous. As I unwrapped the book to find I heard God Laughing, by Hafiz, my heart sank. “Ugh poetry,” I thought. “And now I’ll have to slog through it in order to honor this gift from Katherine.”

When I got home and opened the book I was amazed and delighted. Most of the poems were short and the print was big! Maybe I could do this one or two at a time. As I started to read my first Hafiz poem dismay turned to delight. I loved it and I wanted more. That day I read many of the poems, devouring them as a starving woman. There was no savoring that day as there would be later. His words reminded me what I loved about yoga—the vastness of the practices and how I felt so fulfilled each time I came to any one of them. His words rang with such truth—a true Friend.

And now, how to choose one poem from this book, I Heard God Laughing. If you could see the lovingly broken spine, the dog-eared pages and slips of paper marking favorite poems on nearly every page. One won’t do, not even two so here I offer three. Enjoy.

What Happens

What happens when your soul
Begins to awaken
Your eyes
And your heart
And the cells of your body
To the great Journey of Love?

First there is wonderful laughter
And probably precious tears

And a hundred sweet promises
And those heroic vows
No one can ever keep.
But still God is delighted and amused
You once tried to be a saint.

What happens when your soul
Begins to awake in this world

To our deep need to love
And serve the Friend?

O the Beloved
Will send you
One of His wonderful, wild companions—
Like Hafiz.

Every Movement

I rarely let the word “No” escape
From my mouth

Because it is so plain to my soul

That God has shouted, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
To every luminous movement in Existence.

A Wild, Holy Band

Your breath is a sacred clock, my dear—
Why not use it to keep time with God’s Name?

And if your feet are ever mobile
Upon this ancient drum, the earth,
O do not let your precious movements
Come to naught.

Let your steps dance silently
To the rhythm of the Beloved’s Name!

My fingers and my hands
Never move through empty space,
For there are
Invisible golden lute strings all around,
Sending Resplendent Chords
Throughout the Universe.

I hear the voice
Of every creature and plant,
Every world and sun and galaxy—
Singing the Beloved’s Name!

I have awakened to find violin and cello,
Flute, harp and trumpet,
Cymbal, bell and drum—
All within me!
From head to toe, every part of my body
Is chanting and clapping!

The Beloved has made you
Such a Luminous Man!

For with constant remembrance of God,
One’s whole body will become
A Wonderful and Wild
Holy Band!

One Response to On finding one of His wonderful, wild companions
  1. Angela NIcolosi

    Just read this and learned we have something in common – Katherine gave me my first Hafiz book, too! Guess she foreshadowed Ladinsky’s later translation of Hafiz titled “The Gift”. : )