“Late, by myself, in the boat of myself,
no light and no land anywhere,
cloudcover thick. I try to stay
just above the surface, yet I’m already under
and living within the ocean.” Rumi
It’s been such a long, long journey through the desert, without so much as a camel to transport my weary body across these unrelenting desert sands. Thirsting for water, my mouth dried and parched, I’m thirsting for water. Water! Water! How I long for even a drop of water!
Then, there you were.
An oasis…a soothing, watering oasis. Not just a drop or a sip but a river flowing into the vast oceans of the Earth.
Tenderly, you grasped my hand, lifted me out of those desert sands and your words bathed me in their healing balm. Hope flowed through my veins anew and gaining strength, my eagle wings were restored. At last, I flew once again to the sun.
I became whole.
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralysed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
And so, I carry these words forward and sprinkle them all over the desert, longing to reach other lost and weary travellers struggling along the road. Indeed, so many are lost in the desert without a map, a compass or any kind of food and without the hand of a friend, will surely perish.
For while each of us travels along their own “road not taken”, we can have an understanding. We have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to absorb one another’s joys and sorrows and to share them like a banquet. While we do need times of solitude and time away to reflect and rejuvenate ourselves, we were not meant to be alone. We must all join and hold hands and become one. Forget all these barriers which divide and focus on the whole. Be one people on one planet with one moon and one sun. That is precious and its future lies in the palm of our hand…just like a pearl. Don’t drop it. Whatever you do, don’t drop it. We only have one Earth. We have to hold on. Keep holding on. Our waters, our skies, our birds and fish, the leaves and every blade of grass are all intimately entwined, dancing with the air we breathe.
What are we doing to save it?
Rumi, no doubt you will relate to being a scribe. That sense that you are no longer writing the words on the page and that someone else is more of the driving force. Writers have always known this force. Is it the muse, the Holy Spirit or just a part of myself, which is somehow estranged from my everyday voice? I don’t know. I wasn’t going to write you all of this.
As I ponder all of this, all around me, there is only darkness, punctuated by the light of the moon and the stars. There is no lightning bolt as we speak. Indeed, the heavens are absolutely quiet and all I can hear is the crash of the waves on the beach. Taste a distant sea breeze.
Where are you? I know you’re so much more than simply words in a book and that somehow your spirit lives on in all around me…a man of God. Or, do we really end up in the Earth waiting for the world’s greatest mystery to finally unfold.
Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.
Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say ‘The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.
At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.’
You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Listen to the answer.
There is no “other world.”
I only know what I have experienced.
You must be hallucinating.
How I’d love to share a meal and break bread. For eating together is a merging of minds, a fusion of souls when you don’t just park yourselves in front of the box and fix your eyes on the screen. You listen and you talk. Sometimes, when you dine at our place, you might even write Haiku.
Yet, I cannot linger over bread or even wait to share that meal because my journey must continue. I need to move on. For better or worse, I’m on an express train from A-Z and this is but a fleeting stepping stone along the way.
Unfortunately, it is already time to go. Yet, I leave knowing that we have fed each other’s souls such an array of fertile seeds, which with a touch of sun and rain, will surely grow into nourishing trees.
Our journey will never end.
Love and blessings to you my friend,
The Essential Rumi Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne