Sunday, August 16, 2009
When I arrived in Boulder, one of the first places I went was to the Farmer's Market held in the park downtown on Saturday mornings. I bought some tamales at one of the little stands, and sat down on a benched table to eat, next to a young lady who, it turned out, had spent time in Asia as a student of the cultures in that part of the world. She was waiting for her brother to join her, and he soon arrived. As we talked, I discovered that he was a musician who had studied Indian music under Ali Akbar Khan, the famous performer and teacher of Eastern music. I asked him for references for devotional resources in Boulder, and he gave me the name of Kabir, who leads Kirtan singing in the city once a month. I was intrigued and hoped to be able to go, for I love Kirtans (devotional songs of India.)
Tonight I went to hear Kabir (who is named after the famous poet of early India). He was accompanied by some other gifted musicians, including John, a fine drummer, and Christine, one of his advanced students, who has a magical voice plus some others whose names I did not get.
It was a small group. Some ten or twelve of us sat in a circle, repeating the response to the call from Kabir. However, I preferred just to sit and listen in silence, for somehow such quiet allows me to resonate with the music more fully.
And--the result was a totally transcendent experience--indeed, ecstasy at a very deep level. Those of us who follow the ecstatic path hunger for it when it is not present in our lives. For me, it has been quite some time since I have experienced such bliss. Since I moved here, I have tried to focus on the necessary mundane tasks of getting set up, unpacking, making the necessary phone calls, and such. Many days I have hardly left the house, concentrating on those boxes which never seem to diminish in number. In fact, I was beginning to feel too solitary, in need of human company as well as uplifting experience.
It was, for me, a great evening. And, to top it off, one of the women stood and danced at some point in the performance--it was an impromptu performance, but totally appropriate for the occasion--her full skirt twirled like the dancer in the picture above, and her moves were an exquisite expression of the feelings conveyed by the music.
I felt immensely grateful to have made this connection--with the music, the presence of the divine which permeated the room, and the lovely people who were there, both the performers and the audience.
Afterward I bought two CD's, only to discover that one of them is of Andrew Harvey reading the poetry of Rumi with Kabir accompanying him on the flute. Andrew was for several years my mentor, giving me great help and encouragement when I wrote two of my books, including writing an introduction to each.
This evening would not have happened had I not gone to the Farmer's Market and happened to be seated next to this helpful young man.
(Picture by Patricia Lay-Dorsey)