November 5, 2009, Blagoevgrad, Bugaria
I had just lost a lot of cracked corn
to my landlord, because it is normal
to take what you can from any pancaked drifter,
and not to think of another,
but smother them with smiles…
until money comes into the fray.
And it’s a fine contest
to be waged on any country day
to get the last penny, to beat the other down,
because what is fair
is no concern, nor part of the rules of this game,
but rather, how much
is in it for me, and can I become crafty enough
to clamp it down and drag it in?
I shook off my shock and rise of rage
and walked to the park
where Uri, the accordion player,
sat every day, singing out his heart
for a few coins so worthless they are nothing
but a nuisance in the pocket
of those who passed by with their
minds obviously in avoidance modalities.
And Uri saw me coming and called out my name
for I had sat with him times before —
I mean just trying to be a little more
than another passing shadow.
And there was blessing in his voice
for it came from an open heart.
I put a handful of coins on his box and he was so grateful
that he blessed my name again and again,
speaking it with the warmth of affectionate Love.
Though the language he spoke
was without meaning in my ears,
yet it rang with music and shown on that cold day
like the sun’s warmth deep into my mind.
I let him know with gestures I was leaving.
So he said many words of Love upon me, and hugged me.
The smell of a traveler was in his rough coat:
countless fires, misty mornings, frost and damp earth.
Then I gave him an envelope of money
just because I had lost so much
and refused to let the old fear of want win…
and I wanted to bless this man
and remember with good his leathery face
and gravely voice, like those of the poor everywhere.
He looked in it… and his eyes watered.
And I saw in them at that moment
his suffering and the greatness of his loneliness,
and the mystery of Love.
He could not speak at first… but his eyes
glistened with emotion, and he embraced me,
crying out my name to the birds, to angels…
to the wind.
Then he kissed my hand and hugged me
again, and again, until a prayer suddenly arose in him
that transfigured his voice, for it held
the secret power of those who suffer scorn
and still love: And his voice had gained the strength of millions,
as for a moment time stopped
as he cried out of his heart for the poor of the world
who refuse this dark called selfishness,
and dare to live with open hearts —
to receive what little Life gives that they might survive
this day, and yet turn, and give,
bestowing a blessing, and giving again.
And in that moment he became something other:
a holy man, a prophet in rags: innocently unaware
of who he really is: the great God in rags, the Holy in disguise.
I believe Uri’s prayer has changed my Life
for good, for good… for Love’s good.
May his prayer reach you.
May his prayer bring you Love.