a community of lovers
A belated thank you to everyone who came to the Manchester Ruminations, kindly hosted by Faith Network for Manchester. We had a wonderful evening and are pleased to share a selection of the poetry:
Listen, be watchful if you want a clear heart,
for something is born to you from every action.
And if you have an even greater hope than this,
and if the work goes beyond the rank of one who’s watching,
even though you’re dark as iron,
practice polishing, polishing, polishing,
so that your heart might become a mirror full of images,
with a lovely light-hearted one shining from every direction.
Though the iron was dark and lacking light,
polishing cleared the darkness from it.
[Mathnawi IV: 2467-2471, Helminski, Rumi Daybook]
Look into Yourself
You have learnt so much
and read a thousand books.
Have you ever read your Self?
You have gone to mosque and temple.
Have you ever visited your soul?
You are busy fighting Satan.
Have you ever fought your
You have reached into the skies,
but you have failed to reach
what’s in your heart!
[Bulleh Shah, Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi, translated by Mahmood Jamal]
We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
[The Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks]
The Sea of Life
Waves break along the stretch of sand
I stare out to sea
amid the distant cry of gulls
and children’s laughter
Canute was lost in his stance to conquer
Suddenly, I feel as small
as the crab which catches my eye
edging its way to drier land.
Its efforts gigantic
its progress sufficient to bring a smile
Miniscule versus the world
I consider the parallel between it and me
I consider the parallel between
the gull and its fish tea
Still underneath the expanse
devoid of worry, getting on with life
Swimming with the tide
I think of the nature that surrounds me
I feel my place in time and space
Grains of sand held aloft and slowly released
whisper to me in all my despair
Without each grain the beach could disappear
Without the sea, life could not survive
Without the fish and crab
the gulls and many more could not eat
Without me those I love
Could not be the same
I turn into the wind
and hear my Angel call my name.
[Bridie Breen ©]
In Bewilderment Turn Toward the Face
Who could ever describe
the ways of the One who is like no other?
Anything I could say is only an attempt
at what might be needed now.
Sometimes God’s movement appears one way—
and sometimes as its opposite.
The work of real religion is bewilderment;
but not a bewilderment that drives you away
from Him, no, but bewildered like this—
drowned and drunk with the Beloved.
One person’s face is turned
towards the Beloved in awe,
another only faces himself.
Gaze upon each person’s face.
Pay attention. Perhaps through service
you might come to know
the Face of the Beloved.
[Mathnawi I: 311-315, Helminski, Rumi Daybook]
We never rehearsed this
We are a mess
We tremble and perspire
We step on each other’s toes
Sometimes we go out of tune
And forget our lines
But at least this is real
At least we are not half-alive
Buried under the weight of some image
We never believed in anyway
I will always take this imperfect dance
Over no dance at all
Every war and every conflict between human beings has happened because of some disagreement about names. It is such an unnecessary foolishness, because just beyond the arguing there is a long table of companionship set and waiting for us to sit down. What is praised is one, so the praise is one too, many jugs being poured into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different on this other one, but it is still one light. We have borrowed these clothes, these time-and-space personalities, from a light, and when we praise, we are pouring them back in.