Saturday, August 14, 2010


Last summer, a friend who was moving lent me (and eventually told me to keep) his copy of The Essential Rumi. I was interested enough to figure I would read it one day. There's a pattern in my relationship with books: I acquire or become aware of one, and let it sit. One day it occurs to me to read the book.

The longest time between purchase and reading, so far, is about 10 years. I had bought Beat Not the Bones, by Charlotte Jay, from the Quality Paperback Book club. It had the combined lure of being a mystery, and being about an anthrolopologist. My first attempt found it too dry, and it survived four home moves in a box before I rediscovered it. And loved it.

Wise, interesting friends have posted snippets of Rumi, on Twitter and on other sites that I frequent. Finally, today, I pulled the book off the shelf and began to read. As is so often the case, the book came into my hand precisely when I was ready for it. Rumi wrote on "the howling necessity" and finally I understand, this tendency to do what needs to be done but to bitch and moan the whole way (as a very loving friend has put it).

Cry out! Don't be stolid and silent
with your pain. Lament! And let the milk
of loving flow into you.
This year, the past few years, I have been on a journey of loving. Committed to one form of love, in which I have worked at a friendship with my exhusband, for the benefit of our children and for his growth as well as my own. I have loved someone else, too, who is not part of my life - loved enough to be willing to learn to love myself better. I have changed because of this love, regardless of its outcome, so it is real. That simple statement comes of many months of struggling with blaming myself for things not going as I'd hoped, living with the tendency I've had all my life to mock myself for imagining something good would come. I am come through that darkness to a place where I can see how much I have grown.

God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming
through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain.
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
I'll show you how it's enough.

[Rumi, from "Each Note"]

It happens far too often to be a coincidence, that a book I finally read is exactly on topic for the personal journey I have been taking. I don't know if some phrase from the cover blurb hides out in the subconscious and prompts the mind at just the right time, or if it is a prompting of the Holy Spirit (reading Marianne Williamson's reflections on A Course in Miracles has given me a much higher comfort level with speaking of the Spirit). The Tao puts it simply, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

E.M. Forster wrote, "I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have gone ourselves." Rumi seems to have taken my paths much further, but comes back along them through his writing, to renew my hope and to point me to joy.

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