It is said when a caterpillar settles into its cocoon that the transformative process requires that the caterpillar turn into a complete mass of goo before the power of transformation can take place. In time, it is reborn into what we know as the flying creatures of beauty, a butterfly or a moth. This must feel like a living death to the creature to be suspended so between these lives.
Likewise in the story of the Phoenix where the bird rises from the ashes there is a rather dramatic and painful process that this mythical creature must endure to transmogrify. At a distance, to witness these fascinating processes, whether in a natural setting or in our imaginations with myth, we tend to look past what it must actually feel like to endure such a change in this dimension.
In the case of the Phoenix that rises from the ashes, it represents a transformative human process. While it looks fancy and spectacular, for the person actually enduring this kind of psychic, emotional and physical process, it is like being burned alive with no friendly spectre of death to come to the rescue!
Hafiz speaks to this process that many must endure to renew their lives and live fully. For some it is more natural like the butterfly or moth. There is a deep and a grievous separation felt and it must be lived through. For others there is a more spectacular demonstration of the grief that is experienced. There is the gnashing of teeth and the burning of flesh; there is horror and terror. In the end we are changed by the experience and the tender, innocent heart is sacrificed for the courage within it to be realized and released.
Thank you for listening.
Music: This song popped immediately into my head as I wrote this riff. This rendition of Ring of Fire is sung by Johnny Cash. It was written by June Carter and the ring of fire she went through was devastating as she, a conservative Christian, who found herself in love with a man other than her husband. That other man was Johnny Cash. If you are familiar at all with Cash's life story, you can easily recognize the kinds of ways in which he was transformed in his life and what he needed to endure to bring his life into alignment. If not, know this, it was no picnic for him or the people who loved him. He, no doubt, could relate to the lyrics in Ring of Fire in many ways. June's song was prescient for everyone involved. They were together for thirty five burning years and died one hundred and twenty one days apart in 2003.
The original post in this series of poems by Hafiz can be found here.
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz and translated by Daniel Ladinsky can be purchased here.