Tag Archives: sacrafice

Who teaches, learns


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Who loves, gives; who yearns, takes.

To see this weary world,
to hear it weep its hope,
to speak of it more sweetly
than typically is my wont.
Surely this is the way of it—
not beng me (that usual me),
blind, deaf and mute.

So breathe deep
the full thrum inside,
be joyous, be radiant—but be.
Qui docet, discit.


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Qui docet discit (kwee DOE-ket DEE-sket)  is Latin for “who teaches, learns.”

This is, I have discovered, invariably true. Anyone who has ever given a talk, taught any subject or facilitated any gathering, generally derives more benefit by that active role than anyone else. The point is, that to make something clear to others, you must first make it crystal clear to yourself, and that when you teach, you vibrate with the love of the topic. Without that you are not teaching, you are lecturing.

Thank you for reading Who teaches, learns. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Norwich, Connecticut along the Shetucket River.  To see my photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh  blog.

john

Photograph, notes and poem © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its copyright owner.

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The knowledge of graves

Quddús, the Forever Youth laughs:
So along came they
to tear down My grave
and Me up along with it.
I wish I had a hundred such plots
so they could desecrate them all.
I’d say, ‘Look, there’s the hundred and first!’
and off they’d scurry to dig that one up too.
And then He laughs again.

But I know that place whereof He speaks.
It is a place of mystery
yet a spot of sweet clarity,
the conundrum at the crux of a knot.
There the worldly are lost,
the dead live on,
and the living, while living, are yet dead.
It whispers: how do I empty the blood
from my veins so that His flows there, instead?

Quddús is one of the Letters of the Living, a group of 18 individuals who were the first to believe in the Báb, the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith. Their role in the history of the Bahá’í Faith is somewhat analogous to the role of the Apostles of Jesus Christ in the history of Christianity.

Quddús was both the last and the youngest of the Letters of the Living, but not withstanding this is one of the most heralded because of His erudition, faith, leadership and courage. He was martyred at Shaykh Tabarsi, a small fort in the state of Mazandarin in Iran, where a small handful of untrained people—clerics and students for the most part—held off a regiment of crack troops under the most dire of situations for months, only to be betrayed at the end by promises of safety.

Special prayers of visitation are revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, for recitation when visiting the Grave of Quddús. Unfortunately in 2004, this Site was desecrated and destroyed by the Iranian government, an early step in their campaign that blossomed to further persecute the Bahá’í Faith in that sad state. While the Bahá’ís the world around were shocked and saddened by this sacrilegious and disgusting act, a small part of me was amazed that after 150 years Quddús still had the power to cause the authorities fear.

Thank you for reading The Knowledge of Graves. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

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A grasping man

I am a miser born, a greedy man,
the more I have the more I am,
the more I give the more I can
hold back the fear that I fear the most,
the covetousness of pain. My plan?
Feel it for a truth and bleed it,
just bleed it.

I have never described how this blog got its name. I was living in Tunisia and asked a friend, an elderly Palestinian Bahá’í named Rephai—now, sadly passed on to the next world—how to say the word “pain” in Arabic. He responded “Elam.” Why I asked the question, I can no longer remember. In any case, then and there I told him that I had decided, if I ever published my poetry, I would do so under the title of Kitáb-i-Elam.

Many books in the Bahá’í Faith are of the pattern Kitáb-i-Name. (To name two: the Kitáb-i-Aqdas—The Most Holy Book—and the Kitáb-i-Iqán—The Book of Certitude.) By noting this I am not in any way suggesting that anything I write would or could ever be remotely associated with such Writings. Books named in this style are the foundational Writings of my religion and I would not dishonor Them in thought or deed by comparison or imitation. But in homage to that naming convention, I chose to use the pattern and thus decided to use it for this blog.

Rephai stopped and looked at me and said in a very serious manner, “That is a very good name. But if you use it, make sure that your poetry is worthy of it.” To appreciate what he was getting at, you must understand that all Arabic speaking peoples have a deep and long historical love of poetry. Poems and poets are taken very seriously throughout the Islamic world and it is honored dearly. I knew Rephai was being very serious when he told me this, as an elder to a young man should give council.

Rephai, you dear man, I hope you think I have honored my side of the deal.

Thank you for reading Hold back nothing. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Upon a time

I used to go swimming in Africa
to defy the water demons there—
bugs, worms, hippos and crocs
and test if they were near. I’d think,
Hey Mr. Hippopotamus, where are you!?
Will you take me in your jaws
and roar me loudly home?
Come on Mr. Hippopotamus,
surely you’re not afraid!

I know it all seems so silly now.
Yet there are times when on the road cycling,
as the sun starts pulsing through the trees
and the light starts dancing on the edge,
that all I can hear is my muffled heart, in rhythm;
it gets colder and everything goes dark
and I start flailing to and fro
looking up and around
holding my breath,
treading water
and waiting,
just waiting…

Africa is beautiful, tragic and wonderful. Years ago I went there to live—first in Rwanda and then in Tunisia—for my religion. I am a Bahá’í and in my religion, the place you go to serve is referred to as your “post.”

I really did go swimming in Africa while I was in Rwanda, something ex-patriots seldom do because of the water born diseases and dangerous animals there. It was at Lake Kivu, high up in the hills (called locally moraines) where the dangers, although lessened, were still real. We stayed at a small, simple hotel run by an order of Belgian nuns; the area is close to the famous mountain gorilla habitat, although on that trip we did not go searching for them. I fear that after the Rwandan genocide, the hotel and a chance for a like experience, are now gone.

Thank you for reading Upon a time. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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