Category: Essay

Finding Birdsong

Nepo_1by Mark Nepo

This chapter, from my new book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, speaks to the slow conversation that takes place over time between the spirit and the body. For me, that conversation goes back almost twenty-five years to the heart of my cancer journey.

The Enormity Club

By Jan Shoemaker

Gazing out at the deep, glacial lake,carved out of the earth’s surface over a million years earlier, where kids were shrieking and jumping from rafts, I pushed my feet into the cool sand beneath the hot surface and squinted back at my own history. I traced it familiarly through the cottages and lakes of my childhood, then back more philosophically along a timeline that began with my mother and led all the way through the glacial days and the molten days, back to the big bang itself – the one event that links us all, our single family reunion. And, sighing over what had been feeling like the great weight of care-giving, I considered the obligations of daughters to mothers and wondered where they left off, unable or perhaps unwilling to see beyond the makeshift and unnatural borders I had thrown up: her and me.

In “The Enormity Club,” essayist Jan Shoemaker reflects on the philosophical reverberations brought about by caring for her elderly mother.  Studying her own feelings of resistance to the disappearance of things she loves, she uses ready humor and stringent thinking to consider that perhaps the things that separate us really are a lie.

(Photo of Ron Mueck sculpture © Mike Bruce Gate Studios,


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by Dani Kopoulus

One lonely string is plucked, and plays.
The tone is utterly intimate, though never heard before.
It opens the door and welcomes, knowingly.

Dani Kopoulus takes us on a journey deep into the mind and soul of one darvish meditating upon god and the master, swept up in the sounds of the music of a sufi sama session. The transcendent melodies and rhythms that surround her bring forth a stream of thoughts and images that flow from a burning heart and return to the silence of the breath.


(Photomontage Martin Harris)

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Sufi Symbolism


by Lahleh Bakhtiar

The centrality of symbolism in Sufi teaching remains a consuming topic for scholars as well as practitioners. Lahleh Bakhtiar’s discourse on the subject in her book Sufi: Expressions of The Mystic Quest invokes the tapestry of Sufi symbolism as an expanding visual language, rich with ritual and hidden archetypes—an inner path to understanding.


(Photo Prof. Richard T. Mortel – Riyadh)

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by Dani Kopoulos

In this issue of Sufi, Dani Kopoulos presents an original slant on Love, Passion and Divinity through the ultimate internet dating experience. Dani Kopoulos is a writer and teacher living in New York City. She received her MA in Creative Writing from the New School University in New York and her BA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

(Photo ©

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Under the Minaret

by Jan Shoemaker

Under the Minaret is a compelling essay about an American woman experiencing the mystical dimension on the streets of Istanbul.

“…my mind wandered again to the woman in the road and I felt the tug of eternity.  Was it possible my mother had traveled along?  I felt the recognition of it open in me.  Under the minarets, below the dome of Hagia Sophia, outside the synagogues tucked behind fortified gates, I’d found but failed to see her in a a stranger’s gaze.” (Photo by Timothy O’Brien.)

(Photo ©Timopthy O’Brien)

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