Weeks have gone past since the moment I wrote this poem and presented it to our students as we culminated two years of study together. It was a labor of love and I hoped that each word was carefully crafted to tell the story that was inside of me. It is a concept somewhat strange, this idea of “bowing” to the western mind, yet it has found its place lodged deep inside mine. And then a dear student and friend, Stephanie Ventling, wanted to do a recitation of the poem. It moved me to tears for what she has given to it. I am grateful. These are the moments that I treasure and will remember. Try to listen to her reading. It is beautiful.
I bow early in the morning, the yearning to find myself so present in me.
I bow to witness the sun coming up and life awakening around me.
I bow that my heart might sing, freeing itself from the vestiges of a long sleep.
I bow because I was meant to find the secrets guarded by my soul.
I bow because somewhere deep within me is the love of my life.
I bow to hear your voice as it resonates in mine.
I bow to heal lifetimes of separation and to find my way back to you.
I bow to leave behind the tears of my own incomprehension.
I bow so that the wounds of love might heal,
And she might find me worthy again.
I bow so that when I rise up lifting my eyes to the horizon,
I will see life looking back at me.
I bow so that I don’t miss a moment of the beauty that surrounds me:
Of the tree, the flower or the grasses that waver in the wind.
I bow to gaze upwards at the majesty of the sky that covers me.
I bow to not think only of who I am,
But to learn to see your figure and your face before me.
I bow deep within me to find the strength
That sustains me when I stand tall.
I bow before each step I take on the path before me.
I bow repeatedly because my need is great
And I often forget…
I bow because I believe in a higher source,
Though I can’t tell you exactly why I know.
I bow because somehow I believe in gods and goddesses;
The knowledge of which is soothing and fills my soul.
And though you might think it strange?
I am like the bride before her beloved;
Who prepares herself with incense and perfume
That she might be considered acceptable
To receive the blessings of this world.
I bow to the Guru who I have found in the unlikeliest of places.
Who has revealed himself as a river flowing deep inside of me,
Yet he or she hasn’t told me of his or her gender.
But I do know that he or she is behind my sight that reflects all light.
That there in my heart is my Guru whispering in my ear.
I listen and he tells me who I am and who I am not;
So much so, that I cannot live without his counsel.
I bow because I realized how much in need I am of her counsel.
Why do you bow, have you asked yourself the question?
Was it to find some intangible idea you had once upon a time?
Did it talk to you of finding yourself;
On that path called FREEDOM?
Was it to shed the fears of plans left undone,
And voices that somehow forgot how to speak?
Was it to fill the emptiness of a soul that longs for more;
To tear down the walls, to be united again?
You bow so not to forget, how deserving you really are;
You bow so that your heart says who you truly are.
You are the dawn that welcomes each new day;
And peace as the sun lays to rest in the quiet of the night.
You bow so you will know the joy and ecstasy of your soul
As you climb higher and higher to see the magnificence before you.
You bow to know love as you would also know;
The depths of your oceans and the mysteries held therein.
And you bow because life is in every fiber of your being
And by nature must be made visible for all to see.
So shy not away from life for she is beauty;
She is labor, and she is contemplation;
And all of her is found inside of you.