Monday, June 28, 2010

The Story of My Life

One Sunday each year our church devotes a service to poetry. Friends and members, as they are so moved, may read poems of their own or from others. This year I read a piece by Rumi which hits pretty close to the mark.

The Story of My Life
i was ready to tell
the story of my life
but the ripple of tears
and the agony of my heart
wouldn't let me
i began to stutter
saying a word here and there
and all along i felt
as tender as a crystal
ready to be shattered
in this stormy sea
we call life
all the big ships
come apart
board by board
how can i survive
riding a lonely
little boat
with no oars
and no arms
my boat did finally break
by the waves
and i broke free
as i tied myself
to a single board
though the panic is gone
i am now offended
why should i be so helpless
rising with one wave
and falling with the next
i don't know
if i am
while i exist
but i know for sure
when i am
i am not
when i am not
then i am
now how can i be
a skeptic
about the
resurrection and
coming to life again
since in this world
i have many times
like my own imagination
died and
been born again
that is why
after a long agonizing life
as a hunter
i finally let go and got
hunted down and became free

Ghazal 1419 Translated by Nader Khalili

Rumi was a 14th century Persian and Sufi mystic. No stranger to grief, as exampled by The Story of My Life, Rumi also writes about love. A lot. Not just love, but undying and unconditional love. It is the juxtaposition of ultimate love and ultimate grief that is a recurrent theme of his and to which I am most drawn.

I wonder how many of our frailties and ills, our longings and sufferings, result from avoiding grief and thus abandoning love?

1 comment:

  1. Well said, John. I am glad you are healthfully moving through this lifelong process of grief by talking to others, getting support, writing down your feelings, reading and trying to make sense of it all or just discover you aren't alone. I think we all hope we will never sit where you are now but eventually we all will lose someone very close to us if not our lifemate. I will know better how to deal with grief when that time comes. You are an inspiration to us all and a teacher. Thank you.