Sunday, June 26, 2005

water and wine

Those who flow like water, clear and simple,

Flow like wine in us, through mind and vein.

I stretched out straight and let myself lie low,

A ship where straight and humble men may go.

#504: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: clear

The sky is clearing a little from the rain, the sun peeking through. I'm seeking clarity. I've rediscovered this verse, first encountered on 23April05. I must have forgotten to mark it as read. Looking back, I can see I did it little justice. I pounced on the first line but failed to address the second. The verse speaks of a transformation of water into wine. Where have I seen that before?

John 2:1-11 (New International Version)

Jesus Changes Water to Wine

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."

His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Based on my search at, this story only appears in John and there it is given the honour of being Jesus' first miracle. I don't accept the literal truth of this story but I do take John to be the more philosophical, poetical and complex writer of the four canonical Gospel writers. This, then, I would interpret as a straightforward reference to the symbol of the hieros gamos and the role that Jesus has to play therein.

I think this verse of Rumi's should be marked as a key one. One morning's reflection would not exhaust it. New meanings can flow fresh and clear and intoxicate anew.


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