Be In Bremen by 3pm

By: Kamalika, Sri Chinmoy Centre.

Original article posted on Sri Chinmoy Centre – Inspiration Letters

I got the flower in Freiburg. It was a pristine and very persistent sunflower, it held its head high up even after travelling under all possible circumstances for seven consecutive days. Somebody said that sunflowers drop their heads quite shortly after being cut from their stem, but this one seemed to ignore the usual destiny of its kind. All in all, it was a very special sunflower and it magnificently tolerated all the hassle of car rides between Heidelberg and Nürnberg, tram rides in Mannheim, bus rides between Dachau and Dresden, traffic jams and bottlenecks around Dortmund… Now, after having seen Berlin, it was with me in Hamburg and it started to fade. ‘That is the fate of flowers’, I thought. One thing was sure though: I could not have just thrown this flower away. It was too special, it meant too much to me.

I didn’t have much time to ponder over the issue of perpetuating my sunflower. Our program in Hamburg was quite a rush and on top of that we got lost in a suburb of this huge settlement, so it was quite late in the night that I took farewell from my beloved ones and returned to our tiny hotel room. There a strange desire invaded me quite suddenly. ‘Tomorrow I want to go to Bremen.’

I checked the maps and it seemed quite feasible, but this idea of mine was not really welcome. I was turning Claire’s program upside down. She was supposed to give me a ride from Hannover to Luxembourg and I was supposed to meet her in Hannover at a certain time next day. But I was dying to go to Bremen! She was nice enough to re-adjust her and her father’s program to my brand-new whim with a sigh.

I happened to share the room with Saskia. Upon telling her about the inexplicable impulse I felt about going to Bremen, she remarked without the slightest enthusiasm ‘I was born in Bremen. I even studied there. I just don’t know how I ever lived there, it’s such a small and insignificant place.’ This sounded anything but convincing, but it definitely couldn’t alter the plan. There was too strong child somewhere deep inside me and this kid was loudly protesting against all ideas that didn’t involve Bremen for next day. Fait accompli! After a copious breakfast I grabbed my bag, my increasingly ageing flower and I was off for a safe, glacierless, snowless adventure. A couple of hours in a train and I was placing my feet one before another in Bremen. And I was probably beaming with happiness without knowing what on earth was so special about my coming here.

I couldn’t decide whether its streets were familiar or I just imagined having already walked them in another century. I couldn’t decide whether it was the childhood tale of the famous musicians from Bremen that had planted a seed of curiosity and joy in me. I couldn’t decide what I exactly I wanted to do or see here. I just set off and walked merrily. Well before I reached the old town with its huge church (may I call it a cathedral?) and pretty streets, market squares and the renowned Musicians, I found a stream of water and an island-like place. Actually it was just a seemingly shallow and slow-flowing river that went around some city district and embellished a nice and big park with a well-kept windmill in its middle. I just KNEW that this was the place. The place where I had to be exactly then. It was a late September afternoon, but the number of flowery spots, flourishing bushes, blossoms obviously mocked at the calendar. My grandma taught me long ago not to sit down outside in the months that have an ‘r’ in their names (including September). I giggled when this old memory turned up and I sat down quickly before I could obey tradition.

Being three o’clock in the afternoon I decided to meditate there for a few minutes. Every good Muslim finds a couple of minutes five times a day to spend with God. So, what is wrong with me? Let me give God a chance… Brownish-gold leaves were slowly floating away with the river. I was sitting in a kind of a peninsula under a sheltering shadow-donor tree, peace and poise incarnate. This quietest of all rivers came from my right, went around the peninsula and disappeared at my left.

Both I and the flower knew what was next. I touched it once more and then made just one single move. My sunflower was half a meter from the shore, slowly gaining distance from me. I still played with the thought of retrieving it. ‘I could still reach it if I stretch a bit’, then ‘Oh, if I walked into the water I would still stand a chance of getting it back’… But I moved not. Only with the eyes did I follow the sunflower (that no longer was ‘my’ sunflower)… and felt what it could possibly feel: the touch of shiny cold water, the touch of the sun on the water, the slow but unceasing up and down movements and the pull of some mysterious force drifting it further and further towards the deeper parts, away from the banks and away from any fixed point that could attach it. While I kept my eyes mesmerised and fixed on this ever-diminishing tiny point in a slow but certain current of ever-new water, something happened.

There are moments that break the gridlines of time and run out wildly into the uncalculated and unmeasured freedom of nothing. Moments that cannot be captured, foreseen, grabbed by any watch, any wordsmith, any worldly idea. Moments when the shallow human sense incidentally falls into the coordinates of a giant astrologer and for a second it gets a glimpse of what one thousand billion years of light mean. These moments make one shiver when they bring the breeze of eternity closer to human concept. These moments make one absolutely certain that there is a God, and what’s more, He is tangibly right there, right then…

It was a moment like this. Through a veil powdered with little glittering diamonds – were they tears or miniature waves of this ever-moving fluid medium? – I could perceive an unknown and unknowable stream of love lingering between a little conscious point crouching on a riverbank and an even tinier sunflower vanishing in the distance. A nameless and data-less bliss grew out of this moment and enveloped the afternoon. The sunflower was perpetuated. So was the sacred corner of my conscience that recognised the play and the actors.

According to calendars and watches I spent approximately half of the September 22 afternoon in Bremen. According to the numberless Big Astrologic Book I was given a gargantuan portion of eternity, packed in some earthly seconds. And I came to realise that the previous evening’s almost hysteric yearning to come to Bremen was nothing else than a well-disguised telegraph from the Architect of unearthly time: ‘Be in Bremen tomorrow at 3 p.m.’ at the right time, at the right place. He only knows how he managed this in and through me, but I was there…

Kamalika Györgyjakab, Sri Chinmoy Centre