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Gaylene Barnes: Compassion Expansion

This is the symbol of the Breath of the Compassionate – “An-Nafas ar-rahmani”. Of the ninety-nine knowable names of God in Islamic tradition, ‘Compassionate’ is the highest pronounceable name.

It is the manifesting principle of the Divine. It is a form built upon a four-fold motif, a square. The four elements of matter, the four points of the compass. Upon this square, an eight pointed star emanates and expands, known as Khatim-Sulayman – the Seal of the Prophets. As the khatim is replicated, a four-fold star appears in the negative space. Expansion is symbolised by the 8-pointed star. Contraction is symbolised by the 4-pointed star. The two star-shapes together symbolise the cycle of creation, which is ‘the breath of the compassionate’. The number eight was important among mystics, including a secret ‘ninth’ point – in the origin center. This sacred symbol serves as a structural device for many beautiful Islamic patterns around the world.

This version of the symbol is resting upon a map of Christchurch (c/o Google Maps). The 3rd and 7th points signify the location of the two mosques. The Cardboard Transitional Cathedral is in the middle. Travelling towards the 6th point is the location of the accused’s chase and final capture. He was prevented from expanding hate and anger.

We may wish to hear Farid Ahmed, a senior leader of the Dean’s Avenue Mosque, whose wife was killed in the terror attack. He said at the Memorial Service: “I don’t want to have a heart that is boiling like a volcano. A volcano has anger, fury, rage; it doesn’t have peace. It has hatred, it burns itself within, and it burns the surrounding. I don’t want to have a heart like this and I believe no one does. I want a heart that is full of love and care and full of mercy, and will forgive lavishly, because this heart doesn’t want any more life to be lost. This heart doesn’t like the pain I have gone through, that any human being should go through. That’s why I have chosen peace, love. And I have forgiven.”

When our spaces are filled with love, there is simply no room for hate. Let us have more breath, more compassion. Let us breathe love together.

Gaylene Barnes’s sacred art studio is located in the attic space at St. John’s Anglican Church, Ferry Road, Woolston.

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