Saturday, August 02, 2008

Whirling Dervishes

(I wrote this poem in response to a comment made by Dr. Paul Farmer in a lecture to Stanford University students. He mentioned offhandedly that a great many non-government organizations seem to be operating like "whirling dervishes" in Africa. I thought that a particularly clever word picture, and I think it's a rather accurate description of the danger of getting so caught up in a frenzy of busy-ness that we take ourselves too seriously and forget who we're serving. Spinning in circles can be fun, though - it's a welcome escape from the real issues at hand.)
When I was a child
I used to take great joy
In looking up at the sky
And spinning myself in circles
Until I fell to the ground
And felt the earth move beneath me.

I have read of religions
where they spin in circles
Whirling
Until from utter exhaustion
And disorientation
They fall flat
Their minds liberated
in a state of religious
Transcendence.

I have watched entire
churches
organizations
countries
Look up to the sky
and with their eyes
full of hope
they spin themselves into a
Blissful Exhaustion,
Passing out on the floor
but filled with a dizzying feeling of
fulfillment and hope.

I wish I was still a child,
spinning myself silly
And looking toward heaven
as I feel the world shifting below.

But somehow whirling in circles
became more than a fun game
And now I join with the kingdoms
and religions
In thinking this dance is for some
noble purpose.

When really,
I can't wait
to fall
senseless
from spinning
and rest
while the earth moves
beneath me.

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