Friday, December 30, 2005

sweet servitude

If they all leave me, my love, don't go.

Friend, who drinks my sadness up, don't go.

Fill my cup with wine, and your sweet laugh.

Please, good Saghi, who lights the world, don't go.

#1579: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: leave

Today is Departure Day for my son who flies to Hawaii, his first trip to the US of A, and only his second trip abroad. We are both nervous underneath a steady calm as the days leading up to this have passed uneventfully, almost drearily, saving up drama for now. And hopefully no bad dramas will happen there or back.

Rumi is the expert on the drama of departure, on the grief of taking leave. In today's verse his focus is on "good Saghi", the saqi or cupbearer who pours wine out for the guests at a drinking party. This Saghi is a servant, perhaps a slave, and I'm reminded of the last line in Rumi's poem about love's transformations:

Through Love all that is bitter will be sweet.
Through Love all that is copper will be gold.
Through Love all dregs will turn to purest wine.
Through Love all pain will turn to medicine.
Through Love the dead will all become alive.
Through Love the king will turn into a slave!

trans Schimmel

The first five lines go along with common sense, something unfortunate turning into something fine. Except the last. Why would a king want to turn into a slave? Rumi expresses a similar idea in today's verse by saying that everyone else can depart if only this servant will remain. This servant has sweet powers, to light up the world and drive sadness away. A king rules and maintains order in the chaos of nature. This is an inferior kind of functioning as compared to knowing how to serve the world, how to bring joy and comfort to many hearts. This is what the slave of Allah, the true Muslim, does. However, I also detect a reference to Jesus as the servant who lights the world:

John 8:12 (KJV)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Ah, to serve the world, to bring light and joy and gladness to it, to pour out the wine of divine drunkenness, what could be better than that?


At Saturday, 31 December, 2005, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Best wishes for your son on his trip. And best wishes for you in his absence.

At Saturday, 31 December, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

Thank you, Bob.


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