How is it that you can read something once and never be the same again? My favorite poem comes from the Sufi mystic Rumi, in The Book of Love: A certain preacher always prays long and with enthusiasm for thieves and muggers that attack people on the street. “Let your mercy, O Lord,
And this one. Jeez. I can’t write a proper comment, especially with all these tears in my eyes. After living in a bubble I can’t seem to burst, your writing makes me feel like it’s not so impossible to keep trying to break free.
So much of this resonates, especially the frustration of using words to describe experiences beyond words. 😏 Poetry is brilliant at this. Thank you for this gift of a poem I’ve never seen before. And for your thoughts on why you love (and hate) it.
In answer to your question, YES, Rumi poems also changed my life. “Say Yes Quickly” rescued me at a low point. Not long after, “Guest House” did the same. Maybe you’re aware that the spiritual writer Andrew Harvey is something of a Rumi scholar. His book, “The Hope, a Guide to Sacred Activism,” is an interesting approach to grounding our actions from deep spiritual practice.
Latham, I visited Rumi’s grave yesterday in Konya and came across your piece for the first time. I’m moved by your reflection and how something from the 13th century can resonate so deeply in 2023. I’m stunned by all the emotions in your piece. There were thousands of people who migrate to visit Maulana Rumi which as a title means Teacher. I actually saw his writing too in the museum, and yes the Persian is quite beautiful and people in parts of the world consider memorizing his poetry mandatory for spiritual education. Like, after kids learn Quran and Hadith - which is the foundation -they learn the Masnavi. Thank you for this gift of your reflection.
Finally got around properly read this, and wow, was it worth it! Vaguely familiar with Rumi, I found this poem to be extremely profound and memorable, and learned and felt even more with your great dissection. It all gives a new layer to facing problems/Friends and my dealing with them.
Will also try to read the poem aloud (and more things that way), as you suggest.
I especially liked the section about change and struggle. "We participate in our change" and "Struggle transforms" are great nuggets of wisdom.
I've come to value and appreciate struggle, which in turn has made me very selective in what I choose to consciously struggle with. And with "struggle transforms" I now understand more that selectiveness, since it will determine what I transform into.
Great essay Latham, thank you for bringing it to my attention.
I reread this piece today (got your newsletter on my Readwise feed) and reading the poem for the third time hit me in a whole new way. I can see why you've read it thousands.
There's so many powerful ideas in here I resonate with I can't put it into words (there it is, again!).
Love the journey you're on, the questions you're asking and the wisdom you're seeking.
Latham, I read this yesterday and I've been meaning to comment (blame terrible airport wifi).
I love this piece; it's an ode to poetry. I will use it as reference for when people ask me "what's the point of poetry anyways?"
I also like your reflection on struggle. I feel in our never ending chase for convenience we forget the importance of struggle (we need to separate that from unnecessary suffering though)
This is why such a thing as "church" exists, because experiences and reflections that have this quality of import and depth beg to be shared in person. If you were sitting here you'd feel the precious hushed silence of my response, but otherwise I don't feel the urge to volley words back at you, just wanted you to know you invoked a sense of presence and gladness for the quality of your inquiry, and your longing for deep presence and truth.
"Change doesn’t happen to us." - This stuck out.
In a universe of poems. scripture and epics, why do certain ones grab us and never let go?
"We don’t sit back and let stories, words, and experiences change us. We participate in our change. It’s work. Whether the change starts with a work of art, a psychedelic journey, or a religious realization, we actively cause the change we experience. To attend to creation is to attend to God."
For me - On Children by Kahlil Gibran is a piece that humbles me as a parent time and time again, reminding me of my rightful role and place in Earth's time of this child's journey.