a community of lovers
We hold a Rumi Reflection Group here two or three times every month. It’s very simple and relaxed – we meet in a quiet coffee shop and take one poem by Rumi. We read it two or three times, hearing it in different people’s voices, and then we talk about life for about 45 minutes. The poem is a starting point and a reference point, focussing us on different aspects of our lives. Someone usually acts as host – earlier in the year it was mostly me, and now a guy called Andy takes on that role. The host gently brings the discussion back into the field of the poem, if that’s the right way to put it, when it sometimes wanders off, and holds the space a little bit, in the sense of inviting people to speak when needed. Inviting all the voices, all the guests, outwardly and inwardly, is the spirit of the group. Usually we’ll read the poem again towards the end in someone else’s voice, talk a little more, then close with a few minutes silence and a prayer.
The group comes of out several years practice in a zen circle I coordinated in Manchester and Leicester. Towards the end of our silent meditation period, we often read a poem by Rumi – for instance the quatrains from Nader Khalili’s Dancing the Flame – and at the end each time we sang a version of ‘Come, come, whoever you are’. The spirit of Rumi really seemed to click with the group, and so sometimes in the study section we reflected on themes linking to Rumi, or looked more closely at one of his poems. I began to invite a few regulars to meet up occasionally in a Turkish cafe in Leicester – each time, one of us brought a Rumi poem and talked a little about why we’d chosen it, and then we widened the discussion out into how the poem related to our lives.
So gently over the past few years we’ve been touching base with Rumi, allowing him to influence our individual and group practice. There’s definitely something in Rumi which works for people. Most of the people who come along have never heard of Rumi before, and it’s lovely to see how easily and beautifully they appreciate him.
Ya Hazrati Mevlana!
Christopher Zang Starbuck