Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Rumi, the thirteenth century Sufi poet and mystic, was considered both a literary genius and a saint. In his poetry, mundane objects and everyday events assume a certain sanctity; his images are at once earthy and sublime.
Neither translations nor imitations, these poems by Lynn Park are nonetheless inspired by Rumi, by his passionate attachment to, and longing for, “the Beloved” or “the Friend” — that divine presence which is, Park explains, “the soul’s source and destination.”
The fruits of consecration
are sweetness and patience,
sureness in the middle of panic and confusion
when baboons put on business suits.
Don’t forget your purpose.
This is all a holiness —
but don’t tell anyone.
You’re on a mission for the King.
Risk your life for him,
and at the end of your journey
you’ll find yourself received with a crown.
The crown will fit old grooves in your scalp.
Who was the King,
who was the servant?
Take the time to pray —
it is the sweet oil
that eases the hinge into the garden
so the doorway can swing open easily.
You can always go there.
Consider yourself blessed.
These stones that break your bones
will build the altar of your love.
Your home is the garden.
Carry its odor hidden in you into the city.
Suddenly your enemies will buy seed packets
and fall to their knees to plant flowers
in the dirt by the road.
They’ll call you Friend
and honor your passing among them.
When asked, “Who was that?”
they will say,
“Oh, that one has been beloved by us
since before time began.”
This from the people
who would have trampled over you
to maintain their advantage.
Give everything away except your garden —
your worry, your fear, your small-mindedness.
Your garden can never be taken from you.
Get full value.
Don’t cheat yourself.
You are being called
to spend everything
for a moment’s bliss —
with no guarantee
that payment will ever come through.
Only fools hoard their heart.
You are no fool.
This grief and this longing agree on that.
Your love yearns to cry “yes.”
What option is caution
for the soul that would be free?
Finally the oyster knows itself
to be not different from the pearl:
soft flesh made precious in pain,
all a jewel in God’s fiery sea.