On this day in 1883 the Lebanese poet, painter and mystic writer Khalil Gibran was born. A Maronite Christian, Gibran believed in universal spirituality and was influenced by Islamic, Jewish and Baha’I thinking. His family moved to Boston when he was a child but he never became a US citizen.
His writing, especially his book The Prophet, has been hugely influential and admirers as diverse as Carl Jung and Elvis Presley carried his books with them. Gibran’s own life was not quite as tranquil as his writings imply; a gambler and an alcoholic, he died at the early age of 48 of cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. Nevertheless, he is the third most widely read author of all time. Here is part of one of his poems, God:
And after a thousand years I climbed the holy mountain and spoke unto God again, saying, ‘Father, I am thy son. In pity and love thou hast given me birth, and through love and worship I shall inherit thy kingdom.’
And God made no answer, and like the mist that veils the distant hills he passed away. “And after a thousand years I climbed the sacred mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, ‘My God, my aim and my fulfilment; I am thy yesterday and thou art my tomorrow. I am thy root in the earth and thou art my flower in the sky, and together we grow before the face of the sun.’
Then God leaned over me, and in my ears whispered words of sweetness, and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook that runneth down to her, he enfolded me.
And when I descended to the valleys and the plains, God was there also.”
Today I reflect upon the universal spirituality of man whatever religion he may follow.