Letters To Tom — Loosen the Ties

Dear Tom,
I was
interested to read that according to Sufi tradition, a Pir has to undergo a 40
day retreat of fasting and a form of meditation including a constant repetition
of sacred phrases. Having just finished my Lenten discipline and starting to
indulge myself with an occasional cookie it was interesting to read that Sufis
believe that one cannot perceive the subtle levels of reality without first quieting
the grosser vibrations of the outside world. It causes me to think about, what
am I going to do with my Lenten experience, and feel a little guilty about my
sensual experience with that first oatmeal-raisin cookie after Lent ended. The
author talked of “loosening the ties” of worldly responsibilities in order to
turn within.
“Loosening
the ties” is easier said than practiced. I know few who are able to isolate
themselves from the responsibilities, demands, and pulls of family, work, and
the world. The author suggests that the phrase is not  “cutting one’s ties,” for that mean becoming
an ascetic, perhaps a monk or nun joining a monastery or nunnery. But instead
learning to loosen one’s ties that bind, by finding freedom within, not from
the circumstances, but from our thoughts and emotions. As I think about my
Lenten discipline, as feeble as it was. I contemplate, “How did Lent loosen my
ties?” “Where does its appeal come from?”
Perhaps,
Lent represents that yearning we all have to connect with a deeper sense of
self. While our worldly life may be filled with material success, we all are
attracted, to a small extent, to a more simple, thoughtful lifestyle. My cookie
or another’s glass of wine reminds us of that part of our existence that is
quashed by our frantic days and our worldly desires, and our Lenten sacrifice
represents our ability to cast aside that lifestyle for a more spiritual
existence. If this is the case, we need to incorporate those same thoughts and
emotions into our daily post-Lenten days.
Think
about it, next time you “loosen your tie,” role up your sleeves, or “loosen a
button” at the end of the day.

Your Friend, Webb

About the author

Webb Hubbell, former Associate Attorney General of The United States, is an author and speaker. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller.

1 Comment +

  1. Dear Webb,
    The only comment I would add to this thought provoking entry is that Sufis also remind us to not disconnect from the everyday world, that part of our purpose in this life is to experience the full range of emotions, to engage in what life offers, to make mistakes, to learn and grow. AND to develop our spiritual connections as well. I seriously doubt that Sufis (at least the ones we know) would fault you for your oatmeal cookie! Rather, they might ask you to go deeper, to explore the source of the guilt you experienced in eating it.

    Quoting from a reading I did this morning from the Sufi Book of Life, “Looking in the dark means a journey into our depths. Where is the place that we find least lovable? It may prove to be the key to our greatest power and joy.”

    Your friend, Tom

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