Thursday, July 16, 2009

Charity Work At Blessed Sacrament

Our Hearts Should Do This More

I sit in the streets with the homeless

My clothes stained with the wine

From the vineyards the saints tend.

Light has painted all acts

The same color

So I sit around and laugh all day

With my friends.

At night if I feel a divine loneliness

I tear the doors off Love’s mansion

And wrestle God onto the floor.

He becomes so pleased with Hafez

And says,

“Our hearts should do this more.”


This past Sunday I worked at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic church's soup kitchen, with a group of my fellow darvishes from the Sufi house. It was really interesting, strange work. We served a really nice meal to hundreds of people, and I poured gallons of coffee and fruit punch. A large part of our order is chivalry, how we treat others, and these periodic efforts in the community are a way to perform some good service together, as an order. Different houses, or khaniquahs, do different things. We help out at Blessed Sacrament.

I was impressed with their operation. Say what you will about the Catholic church and its problems and faults; they can pound out the charity when they want. The whole thing has been going on for a few decades there, and they have it down to a science. We were neatly plugged in and the day just flew. There were a few elderly people who were skeptical of us; I've never met so many people who had never heard of Sufism. We explained simply and politely, and they politely left us alone. They were glad for the help, I think, but they never did get why we were there. Maybe they thought we were a Sufi gang doing community service. (I want a jacket that says the Darvishes!)

The people who came to the kitchen where all types, but mostly who you would expect. Mostly men, middle aged, with varying degrees of problems. A few people had to be asked to leave, but by and large they thanked us and ate in peace. It was mostly white, but there were a lot of Native Americans, which was sad and alarming. Considering the total population in Seattle, to see so many so down on their luck made me really ashamed of my ancestors. (You know who you are, 17th and 18th century Barkers! Not you, mom's side. You're Irish and came here in 1920. We're cool.)

It was really great to be of help. We do so much for ourselves, and so little to help out others, and when there is a direct and obvious way to just give out food and keep people fed, it feels great. All of the darvishes who showed up, even with their own families and busy schedules, are amazing. The Master asked us to perform this small service, and many of us did. Those who made the effort, they inspire me to be a better darvish, and they make me proud to have started on this path.

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