De Mantel der Liefde by Frank Boeijen
(The Cloak of Love)
Dans je swanendans (Dance your Swan dance)
Alleen voor my (Only for me)
Voor my alleen (For me alone)
Bedek me, bedek me (Cover me, cover me)
Met jouw mantel der liefde(With your cloak of love)
Bedek me, bedek me (Cover me, cover me)
Met jouw mantel der liefde (With your cloak of love)
Een mantel die nieman heeft (A cloak that no-one posesses)
Alleen jy en ik kan het geheim. (Only you and I know its secret)
When I first read this Dutch poem, I was deeply touched by having experienced the fullness of this love, and at the same time very aware of experiencing that sense of loss when circumstances change. The Dutch phrase ‘Mantel der Liefde‘ when translated into English as ‘Cloak of Love’does not portray the depth of feeling that the Dutch words connote. When combined with the Dutch word ‘bedekken’, meaning ‘to cover up’, it intensifies the meaning of the paragraph – ‘cover me, cover me, with your cloak of love’.
The poem itself brought back memories of what it felt like when my parents were still alive. It seemed I had no cares, trusted my world, was enveloped by a ‘cloak of warmth and love’ that was part of me. Yes, there were challenges, especially when the family emigrated to Australia and we left our comfort behind. But with their stoicism, their vision of seeking a better world for us all, I believed them.
When my parents died from an accident that could easily have been prevented, it felt like the whole world sunk between a dark sand-storm. The world seemed cold and distant, the sun disappeared from my life, and I was unable to feel that feeling of oneness with life. I was angry with my God, even though as a young girl living in Holland I felt so close to him, and felt I could talk with him, and was a staunch supporter of the Catholic faith.
This all changed when I heard the news of my parents’ death. After the funeral, I burnt all their letters and wanted to disconnect myself from having to remember them, for the hurt was cutting and deep. I decided to become an atheist, believing in nothing. (‘atheistic’ originating from the Greek word ‘atheos’ meaning ‘without Gods’.) So what did this state of disbelief feel like? At first it felt like hatred, resentfulness, anger, being violated. For not being able to trust the world around me, I couldn’t find my direction. I looked for scientific explanations for the evolution of the universe and mankind, and settled for a more simplistic view of life and death.
But then I remembered my days of dancing and how pure and joyful it felt, and I longed to feel it again, to let it touch my skin, enlighten my burdens. I let go of all the religious trappings of rituals and rosaries and confession. I struggled to hold onto this feeling that I sensed with my whole being, the fight for the survival of my trust was at stake.
I cowered under the depressing bouts of anger and disapproval from others. I was unable to lift my head, to speak out loud, to find the truth of my words. I was running, leaving my image of immortality that ended only with cold death. To touch the sun’s warmth each morning, yet not feel its eternal rays, that is true sadness! To watch your parents die and feel that their life has been cut short and sense the futility of such a death, that is true sadness!
Then the day came when I could feel again. But it was still so fleeting. Momentary glimpses through the love experienced in my relationship with family, partners, and friends. And still I searched for that feeling of an all-embracing love, not dependent on circumstance, that I felt I had experienced in my youth. I searched in all the scriptures and when I found this poem, its deep-rooted meaning describing this love as a ‘mantel or cloak, a covering and protection’, something uniquely private and yet universal, it steered me to a course where once again I felt hope.
One day I met with my teacher Prem Rawat who showed me how to experience the deep harmony of ‘divine Love’ by showing me a mirror where I could see myself and recognize the beauty of the real Self. And I understood that through the practice of a meditation technique, the practice of Self-Knowledge, and by listening to his talks, my thirst could be fulfilled. I felt my heart nurtured and found my trust again. I found that dance of joy again. And I could understand the coming and going of this breath, how precious our moments are upon this earth, and how it is a gift that can’t be owned. I began to feel real gratitude, and wanted to learn more about this elixir of this ‘divine Love’.
There are still some dark tunnels, shadows of fear, and feelings of loss for those who have passed away. I can’t fix the world, and I am saddened about where humanity is heading. But as long as I can live my life in the grace of this ‘Mantel der Liefde’, knowing that I have found the true love residing within me, I am confident that the journey ahead will be filled with the grace of the ‘Swanendans’.