On Whirling Dervishes and The Approach of Advent

Dancing dervishes
Dancing dervishes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Merton's Voice: Come, dervishes: here is the water of life. Dance in it.
 Raids on the Unspeakable: 161

Psalm: 93:4 More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea, powerful in the heavens is the LORD.

Contemplative Pause: Throughout this day, pause, take a breath, and listen with your heart. How are you dancing with the ebb and flow of life? 

The text above came From my inbox today via The Merton Institute

I love this quote from Merton alongside of Psalm 93 as Advent fast approaches.

I laughed too at the association of the image of whirling dervish with Advent preparations as this is such an appropriate image for many of us at this time of year. 

( Apologies, to those uber organised people who did all their Christmas preparations in January of this year- I ain't  a domestic goddess!)
I looked up the word dervish and discovered it is made up of the word 'Al Tawafuq' meaning coincidences. 

In the image below the word is written in Arabic over and over again and the artist's use of the fountain pen art captures the flow and movement of the whirling dervish beautifully.

Even the coffee stains add to the meaning !

During the four weeks of Advent we are supposed to be engaged in spiritual preparation to celebrate the birth of Christ.  The first Sunday of Advent  also marks the beginning of a new liturgical year, which in this case, happens to be the Year of Luke. 

We are being bombarded with pre-Christmas adverts and sales and have also to get used to a New Church Year .

 In the last few Sundays we have had Scripture passages on whirlwinds. The recent Hurricane Sandy and the present gales and floods in the UK mean many have a firmer personal understanding of Mark's Gospel's Little Apocalypses than they might like.

So the image of whirling dervishes really does make sense as an icon for the month of November and Advent and you don't have to be a Sufi to appreciate that.

The super -charged turbo energy that we need to drive most of us through the season of Advent  paradoxically is one that can also leave us drained and limp by the time Christmas Day arrives.  


It is a frenetic few weeks of work, family, church and social commitments and wave after wave of activity that catch hold to spin us around and trap us into a vortex. It can be also be an emotional time for people who are grieving and that can plunge people into deep eddies and whirlpools of isolation. It can be hard to cope when everyone is expected to be upbeat and jolly. It leaves little time or space for reflection.

That is why I particularly like the addition of the words of the Psalm to remind myself that the origin of our energy and the power source from which all life and love comes is God, and the water of life Merton invites us to swim in, is indeed God's Love.

I need to tap into God's source through attention, mindfulness, and prayer even if only for a few moments : it is hard work but maybe the dance of the dervish captures the essence of the idea that I still can do all this while apparently in a dizzy whirl !! 

Perhaps the artist Sue Krigsberg describes this well in her work as an artist :

 "The Whirling Dervish is spinning towards union with the Divine and she says she feels that connection through colour. See her painting of The Whirling Dervish here.

 The calm serene image below may be a world away from what we might like to achieve in spiritual contemplation and reflection but Jungian author Clarissa Pinkola Este has an interesting article here which is worth a read and some advice on dealing with spinning vortexes too !

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