I haven’t done formal writing exercises since my third-year creative writing seminar at uni, but I had the chance this weekend. There was a little writers’ session at the Maritime Baha’i Summer School. We discussed the hobby and the craft for a while, and then the accomplished Anna Quon (author of Migration Songs) had us free-write about our external environments and then our internal environments.
Why did Anna choose this prompt for us? Well, the summer school participants had all begun their day with some devotions in the morning, and this had been one of the readings:
O SON OF DUST! All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.
—Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words (#27 from the Arabic) (source)
Anna connected her suggested prompt to that morning’s readings, and I trust in your capacity to make the same conceptual connections. (Read: I’m not going to break it down.)
So here’s my little piece:
My toes are curled to adjust for the rough ground, a ground covered in pine needles and stones, a ground that rolls slightly and subtly. The smell of pine pervades the moments unexpectedly here, and thus with heightened impact. There are contrasts here as well, outside of the grey city: lightness and darkness meet in the canopies. Colourful cabins as though taken from a toy train set sit comfortably in the earthiness: red rooftops above brown ground. We are all miniatures in here, though the looming tinkerer is quietude itself.
My sunglasses are still on, so I can’t see clearly. I have to wear glasses now. I had 20/20 vision for 20? 20 years and I worry now that my figurative clear-sightedness has been compromised by the weakening of my literal clear-sightedness—for does not physical reality reflect spiritual reality? I dread the imaginable gradual changes that could lead to losing the big picture and dwelling on details, the unpleasant things in life. I have a sense of urgency now—that I must learn and learn fast and take the pulse of things before my other faculties begin to fail. This is a changeless Faith, yes, but it is constantly changing, for that is what it means to be dynamic and alive.
We all ought to occasionally savor the morsels of our mortality. You see?
Maybe I’ll do something with these words someday—revise them, make them into a poem, put them into a prose piece—but for now they’re just here in the ether.
Thanks, Anna, for making me write! And thanks, universe, for being so enticingly complex.