All tagged Rumi

The Fifth Day of Christmas: Towards the Threshold

We have been doing some difficult work on this journey, with what seems like nigh-impossible goals: to cultivate a virgin heart, to sit in perfect silence, to reach that inner room where God meets us.  Even under the best of conditions, it would be easy to lose heart.  Even in a quiet room, with a candle for focus, and time for concentration, the thoughts keep intruding, insistent: undone tasks, unchecked lists, repressed sorrows, old embarrassments, new fears.  We are imperfect pilgrims.

"Oh God, our provider and sustainer! Your end has no end, but we find ourselves ending and beginning a new year. We ask that your compassion protect us this year from evil, that you call us sweetly to follow you, that you give us a longing to leave our old self behind, and that you guide us to walk in your love. May your grace bless the universe and shower us with favor."

-a prayer for the New Year, adapted from Rumi

This Father's day weekend I have been sitting in the garden, empty.  The weather has been wonderfully cooperative for those having feasts and outdoor barbeques, and the noise of celebration drifts over into our garden where I sit.  It is, for us, a day for crying together, but also for pondering together the greening power of nature. Creation brings beautiful abundance and also an abundance of loss; not every bud becomes a flower.  To participate in the beauty is also to risk the loss.

Method and Madness in Rumi

I have spent the weekend at my Benedictine home, St. John’s Abbey, getting lost in mystical lyrics like these.  Rumi, a Muslim sage, scholar, and poet seems so inviting at first.  But when I try to puzzle out what he means, I get lost. Because the poetry of the 12th century mystic Rumi is easy to love, but much harder to understand.This is why Rumi calls everyone to become lost, all who would experience the deep things of the Spirit, and even all those who are not interested. As long as you love anything at all, you are on the way to the Ocean.  All loves, even shallow, incomplete ones, are a mirror in which we can see, darkly, the great ocean of Love. 

Spiritual homecoming and hospitality

Any tradition, any spiritual house, will fossilize without being open to new influences, and it will not stand without some grounding.  Both tradition and openness are long habits of Benedictine practice.  And hospitality, welcoming the other, is a central aspect of Benedictine spirituality that points it outward from its tradition.  Benedict was very clear that monasteries should always have guests, should welcome them, and treat them honorably. The Sufi spiritual teacher and poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī  makes a similar point, with more extreme imagery, in his poem “The Guest House.”  

Expecting Deliverance

As a Benedictine Oblate, I regularly pray the daily office, and at the end of the day find myself praying the Magnificat. My long apprenticeship as a Protestant metho-bap-terian did not prepare me for the beauty and terror of this praise poem.  Through long practice, I have seen deeper levels and more variety of meaning than my initial Calvinist skepticism would have expected.  The text has alternatively left me peaceful, puzzled, cold, frightened, hopeful, and comforted. 

This is a canticle of justice finally being done, of a deliverer finally coming to the aid of the oppressed. It is part of a long tradition of Hebrew women in scripture who sing pointed praise songs about a deliverer who "triumphs gloriously" in favor of the oppressed...