A person is a mirror to a person. Every time I watch a sunset, I always say, “What a pleasure it must be to be able to watch myself through others and be a mirror for them. Whatever reflects between the hearts of two beings must be the most silent and deepest communication of divine love in a sacred dance.”

Sunsets are very special to me. I have always been curious about the magnificent beauty of the sunsets in every single city I have visited around the world. What most excites me in life is witnessing how the same Sun sets uniquely and harmoniously in different places, weather conditions, temperatures, and different times of the year. And I—knowing that even at exactly the same point in the same city, the Sun never sets the same—experience an abundance of blissfulness, love, and admiration every time I witness a sunset.

However, my journey of spiritual evolution began with not being able to be understood and accepted with my abundant feelings. Whenever I share an intimate moment, such as a sunset, with someone, he would make me feel like my feelings were excessive, unreasonable, and unacceptable. He would try to convince me that there is nothing worthy of exaggeration and that there are just the random facts of life. If he were someone of average virtue, he would silently refuse to reflect my feelings back. If he were not, there would be a good chance of him judging me for my feelings.

It kept happening for so many years with different people in different situations that I became finally convinced that I was going too far with my vivid feelings. I did not accept who I was. I was so far from sharing my feelings that it felt like a sin to feel them. But distancing myself from my feelings was a kind of death to me, one that I’ve recently begun to understand. If it was unbearable to disown my feelings, maybe I could at least feel accepted if I burned them all down, yet I didn’t feel accepted

The years passed, and the deprivation within me reached such an advanced stage that not only my silent reaction to it kept growing but my neutral expression, even though it doesn’t include any feelings or needs, became razor sharp. It hurt, but it also made others bleed deeply. I was aware of this damage to others, but I wasn’t feeling anything. How could I? I was numb! I would have loved to remember the sensation of compassion, but it was unreachable beyond the icy walls that I had myself built for years.

More years passed, and my fears became my habits. My habits became my attitudes, and my attitudes became my personality. Silence became my protection, just like it had been when I used to stutter. It was a safe place that protected me from being judged. It was a nonviolent, but at the same time, it was an uncompassionate place where I existed by contenting with less. It was also a sacred place where I had given up on what I deserved, where I just prayed silently for the accompaniment of my breath to my voice and of my voice to my breath.

One day, another speechless period was such a norm in my life. I was attending a retreat for teaching yoga training, and we were expected to spend the first half of every day in silence, as if we were in Vipassana. It was surely a comfort zone for me. We 40 people were supposed to stay away from any kind of verbal and behavioral action (eye contact included) that would acknowledge another’s existence. It was a piece of cake for me after a life where my existence wasn’t entirely accepted, so it was easy to ignore others’ existence. It made total sense, right? My breath accompanied me in this Vipassana process. My breath had been my one and only loyal friend, but had I valued it properly? Yes, I had never wasted it on nonsense thanks to being silent. I had hopefully reserved my most valuable asset to give voice to the words of the most Sacred One instead. There was a somber peace in my desolate voice. There was trust in knowing whom I belonged to.

It was our second morning at the retreat. I woke up at 5:30 with Ceren, and we ignored each other completely while getting ready and leaving the room to attend the meditation class. Just after stepping out of the room, in the utter darkness of the retreat center, we were both stunned by the magnificent beauty of the stars and our souls met in our silence. We didn’t even see each other’s faces, but during the few long minutes we spent together in this deep silence, our flood of emotions were expressed in their own unique way, easily reaching the other’s heart and reflecting back through it a million times stronger. We witnessed how a common feeling could enlighten our faces, as well as the stars, and our beings effortlessly thawed our frozen pieces and awoke our sleeping souls compassionately and without the use of expression.

At that moment, all the miraculous memories of sunsets where my admiration and ecstasy weren’t reflected back to me through another human being, where my intense feelings ended in guilt and shame, did not even pass through my mind. There was just satisfaction and wholeness at the moment my years of deprivation were healed. My heart became Gönül (this word doesn’t exist in English because this kind of ability to love exists only in Sufi culture) for the first time. It was fulfilled, and it flowed freely without judgement or limitation. I also remembered the given words as consolation for the first time; “Elem neşrah leke sadred / Have we not expanded your heart?” (Quran, Al-Inshirah, 1).

After the morning meditation and yoga class, while the silence still applied, my heart was relieved. I headed to the kitchen to refill my coffee, but unfortunately it was finished. I didn’t know if more coffee was being prepared, nor could I ask anyone about it and break the silence. So, I just returned to my table with my empty cup. I did not share my disappointment with the others at the table. Just as I was sitting down, I was caught by a bartender friend who was voluntarily serving us during the retreat. He knew we were unable to communicate and watched us carefully, so he could take care of our unexpressed needs. He was devoted to serving us. Indeed, his eyes revealed his enthusiasm to serve. He pointed out the coffee machine with his radiant eyes. With sparkling eyes, I stood up from my chair and walked towards the kitchen bar. “I would have fallen in love with me if I could see my eyes,” I thought to myself silently. When I reached the kitchen, whatever reflected back to me through his tender eyes was what I had been longing for so deeply for so many years. This person was a mirror to a person. Without doubt, there was ease with every difficulty. The knots in tongues would unravel, and the seals on hearts would be melted by the single breath of a lover. The hearts of the patient believers would be expanded with no doubt. A single cup of coffee, a few million stars, the heartbeat of a fellow human, a warm hand, and the eye of a knowing heart could only exist thanks to His divine glory.

Now turn back and look at your heart again. Don’t you see His glorious light there? Turn your face to Him at the end of every deprivation, every disappointment, every betrayal, and every difficulty. Devote your breath to Him. You are not alone. You never have been, and you never will.

Seda Vardı