In September 2011, I published a story entitled Free Fall in the men’s anthology that I edited. Free Fall gave a brief account of the invaluable lessons I learned and the powerful and beautiful experiences I encountered while immersed in two intentional, intensive spiritual communities. I also related various adverse reactions to my involvement, leading to my decision to exit those two communities, one in 1983, the other during 2002. Although I have not since visited either of those communities, I have had periodic contact with members of both groups, particularly the latter one, a Sufi organization in which I actively participated with my wife Ruth for 11 years. Ruth and I have been core members of a larger, international Sufi organization since 2004.
Recent Heart Burst:
On June 14, 2013, Ruth and I hosted a small fundraising presentation and dinner at our home for a fabulous and highly successful program called “For Kids’ Sake.” While we were involved with the community, we loved working on this project to support Bangladeshi orphanages and schools. We hosted a previous fundraiser for this project in 2007. Saafia, the current program coordinator, and her husband Rafi, stayed with us for two days, en route to a wedding in southwestern Colorado. We hadn’t had any contact with these two amazing people since leaving the community in 2002.
Literally within a few minutes of our reconnection with this beautiful couple, the mutual love between us was palpable. Amidst an openness that characterizes this spiritual group, our conversation flowed easily as we caught up with each other’s lives and as Ruth and I eagerly inquired about recent community developments. I was continually struck by Rafi’s and Saafia’s shiny, fiery eyes, brimming with warmth and wisdom.
Saafia’s very articulate, passionate presentation resulted in a $1500 contribution to For Kids’ Sake from the living-room full of people. After dinner, we continued conversing until late night, dipping into some deeper and more personal topics. Before the couple “hit the road” the next morning, each of us acknowledged the deep bond we formed because of our shared spiritual path.
Despite choosing to leave our former Sufi community over a decade ago, Ruth and I have enormous respect and lingering warm feelings for this devoted group. We have always perused its semi-annual journal, which is chuck-full of photos and details about the local and global activities in which its members are involved. Saafia and Rafi exemplified the full-heartedness and maturity of the community members—one of the highest functioning, illuminated communities that Ruth and I have ever witnessed.
Sharon, J: Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives: Defining Moments. Centennial, CO: Energy for Life, 2011.