Picture_of_Hafez1Emerson referred to him as the “Poet of poets.” The Sufis thought him the embodiment of Love.

Among all of the books I’ve read, “A Year with Hafiz” will linger longer than most and there’s no doubt we’ll share many moments in the future.

Hafiz is an Iranian poet who made his virtuous mark on humanity in the 14th Century. Born in the Garden of Shiraz around 1320 and walking the Earth to 1389 – Hafiz is celebrated in Persian culture and made his way into my life by my good friend Ahmad Mahmodian.

Ahmad was quoting Hafiz one night over wine and the tears swelling in his eyes inspired me to explore this intoxicating muse.

There are many more observations about the depth of Iranian culture, especially what I’ve learned from my time with Ahmad. Family, friends and guests are deeply important to this culture, despite the Western slant we are programmed with by modern media. More on that later.

Hafiz is a must-read for anyone who’s open to the sublime breath of the world within and the world to come. Christian, Buddhist, New Age, Word Nerds and stressed out modernists will find joy, humor and certainly love from this master lyricist.

Last year, right before Christmas, I made one of those purchases you find yourself guilty of in the season of giving. Fortunately though, I was more than excited to find out more as I began to turn the pages.

After many conversations with Ahmad, I’ve learned the Iranian people give high regard to their poets. In America, we celebrate sports and entertainment figures, but for me, those moments are for the most part – temporary. Iranians build shrines to their poets.

If I ever make it to this cradle of civilization, Hafiz’s tomb will certainly be on my bucket list.

‘A Year With Hafiz’ is a Penguin book with a green linen cover – perfect for bending, traveling and tossing around like a favorite coat. It’s now worn, frayed and the pages are ruffled from my daily contemplations and I find myself starting over again just like last year.

The book is paginated for each day of the year and day includes a poem by Hafiz as translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

Translations usually take liberties moving the words and context from one language to other this one is no exception.

At times the modern narrative is humorous, personal and some of the absurd modernizations make me scratch my head, but regardless of the decisions the editors made on this one, Hafiz’s brilliant passion and direct line to the essence of Love, beauty and God roars through the pages, drunk with passion – one day at a time.

There’s nothing serious inside the poems which usually take up no more than a page. The mood is playful, sensuous and sublime. It’s easy to drift into meditations within the stanzas as you find yourself privy to celestial breakthroughs and episodes of sensitivity, joy and comedy.

Instead of a stoic approach to spiritually, one is more likely to come away with a year like I did of approaching Hafiz like a favorite drinking buddy who always satisfies with deeply moving gifts of wisdom and laughter.

He warns against the pious and taking things too seriously, but rather to bask in the radiant warmth of God’s love in such a way that it’s almost childlike.

I’m not going to spoil the rich treasure of this collection of poems either waxing one of the other. However, I will say this. If you’re looking for compassion, insight and still moments of joy in a world gone mad, turn back time and discover what has been and always will be – a world of tremendous love from a master teacher.

January 1st begins as such.

Listen to the Music

I am a hole in a flute that Christ’s breath moves through – listen to the music.

I am the concert from the movement of every creature singing in myriad choruses.

And every dancer, their foot I know and lift. And every brush and hand, well that is me too, who caresses any canvas or cheek.

How did I become all these things, and beyond all things?

It was my destiny, as it is yours. My poems are about our glorious journey.

We are a hole in a flute, a moment in space, that the Christ’s body can move through and sway

all forms – in an exquisite dance – as the wind in a forest.