This week I have struggled a little bit with some of the Rumi that I’ve read. Here are a range of my journal notes: Reading Rumi’s poems, I wonder what it must have been like for him to try to portray through his words what his revelations were. How do you describe the sky to a blind person? It’s always there but it has it’s moods and is always changing. Even in the moment of describing the sky it may change before your eyes. On another day I wrote: I think Rumi is telling us we try too hard. Even if we do nothing we will reap the rewards of the harvest. And one day I questioned who actually wrote the poem (Only Breath) or who was it who inspired Rumi to write the words he did?
Today “Where Everything is Music” resonates with me. In 2015, as an adult with no musical background, I decided to learn to play cello.(Seen in the above photo!) I have loved every minute of the journey. It has been challenging for sure but it has opened my eyes to a world I had been on the periphery of before. I feel I have “opened a window” as Rumi suggests in his final stanza of this poem.
“We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.” ~ Rumi
Rumi compares love, his passion for life and living, to the intoxicating effect of music, with its enlivening effect on the soul.
Throughout the day today I see references to Bach and to Nietzsche, “Without music life would be a mistake.” Reminders of Rumi’s words are everywhere. A quote from Virginia Woolf falls open, “That is the quality which dance music has – no other: it stirs some barbaric instinct – lulled asleep in our sober lives – you forget centuries of civilization in a second and yield to that strange passion which sends you whirling round the room – oblivious of everything save that you must keep swaying with the music -” I listen to my favorite songs and I know that Rumi’s assessment of music will resonate with many!
“Language and music are possible only because we’re empty, hollow, and separated from the source. All language is a longing for home.” ~ Coleman Barks
The Reed Flute’s Song
Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note. ~ Rumi
The last few years, perhaps because of Covid and the enforced isolation, each time I say good-bye when family leaves after a visit, I am filled with sadness. The scale of the sadness is in direct proportion to the joy I just shared while we were visiting. There are no words to convey the depth of my feeling. There are no words to hold all the love I wish to pour onto my loved ones. Although I have just spent a wonderful afternoon or evening with my children, or siblings, or cousins, I immediately long for more time with them once the door is closed and they are on their way. Is this even close to the longing Rumi is expressing?
Each day as the numbers rise, the lump in my throat grows larger as I am reminded that they are more than just numbers. Someone is losing a loved one. Someone is worried they will lose a loved one. Someone is feeling cut-off and alone, like there may be no way out. I feel helpless and the tears cannot be held back. I shed tears filled with love because love is one thing that has not been stopped when the brakes were put on the world as we knew it.
I am posting the link to two songs that I feel offer hope and peace. I send love to you, my fellow readers.
By Jan Zwicky
On a bad day, you come in from the weather
and lean your back against the door.
This time of year it's dark by five.
Your armchair, empty in its pool of light.
That arpeggio lifts, like warmth, from the fifth of B minor,
offers its hand - let metell you a story...But in the same breath,
semitones falling to the tonic:
you must believe and not believe;
that door you came in
you must go out again.
In the forest, the woodcutter's son
sets the stone down from his sack and speaks to it.
And from nothing, a spring wells,
falling as it rises, spilling out
across the dark green moss.
There is sadness in the world, it says,
past telling. Learn stillness
if you would run clear.
After the heat and sunny skies of Italy we have been treated to grey skies and rain in Holland. We dressed in traditional Dutch costumes and tasted cheese in the historic town of Volendam. Despite rain we visited the village of Marken and toured a wooden shoe “factory” where we saw traditional wooden shoes as well as many other styles including pink high heel wooden shoes. We listened to classical music in a stone arch passageway in Amsterdam- violins, accordion and trombone sounded like a full orchestra as notes of Handel’s Messiah soared around us. We admired Rembrandt’s Night Watch in the Rijk’s Museum then walked amid life size replicas of the characters of the painting at Rembrandt Plaza. Along with hundreds of others we rode bicycles along the city canals and through Vondel Park. After walking around for awhile we were thrilled we were able to find our bikes among thousands of others!
I have learned from travel that everywhere you go it becomes a part of you in some way – it is impossible to return the same person you were when you left😄