Friday, December 09, 2005

a solid bridge

I'm not a bee, that flies away from smoke,

Nor a ghost that fades at burning aloes,

Nor a broken bridge, washed off by the flood,

Nor so needy that I balk when beauty sulks.

#1248: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: bee

Last night I had a powerful dream featuring bees which attacked and blinded my brother. It felt like a stunning dream, one which had the potential to explain everything. I still have a good feeling about it.

This verse that the bee found is another of those with a high numbering but a raw feel. There is a defiance expressed here that would make little sense after over one thousand verses. In these lines, Rumi is announcing that he is not a mere insect driven by fear, that he is not a passing threat that can be waved away. He's here to stay. The third line suggests he knew he was forming a bridge and he was confident that his bridge would hold, that it would withstand any torrent of emotion. The last line dismisses the threat of rejection as if it is the least. In this case, it is motivated by selfish, childish considerations and rightly has no power to stop him in his tracks.

The imagery of the bridge is, for me, central to this quatrain. In Rumi's time, the Christian crusades were still a sporadic threat to the region. Today, a renewed gulf has opened up between the Christian and Islamic worldviews. Rumi's worldview, heavily influenced by Hindu/Buddhist mysticism, was nevertheless shaped inside this major spiritual rift between two monotheisms. To my mind, Rumi has a profound and multi-faceted genius, a sharp intelligence combined with aesthetic sensibility and moral strength, that make him more than a mere saint, more than a mere poet, more than a mere thinker. He shines forth as the complete man, the Renaissance man before the Renaissance was even dreamed of. He shows us what any one of us could be. There is no hint of threatened punishment should we fail in any way. He opens a door and invites us in, that's all.


At Friday, 09 December, 2005, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

The latest prediction is for 6 to 10 inches of snow tomorrow. I'd really rather not.


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