Oh, Ye Lovers!: A Meditation On Rumi And St. John Of The Cross
“The people of the city, young and old
Were all lamenting, crying, sighing loud
The villagers as well as Turks and Greeks,
They tore their shirts from grief for this great man.
‘He was our Jesus!’- thus the Christians spoke.
‘He was our Moses!’ – said the Jews of him…”
~ A contemporary account of Mawlana Rumi’s funeral
“What a wonderful thing it is
For two souls to understand each other,
For they neither lack something to say,
Nor grow tired.”
~ St. Theresa of Avila on her friendship with St. John of the Cross
Oh, ye lovers, dance! Whirl as the petals of the rose unfurl and find the Center of all Longing, the Oneness of all Being. Spin as the seasons turn, color melting from one shade to another, ever deepening, as ink upon the parchment forms poetry, formed deeper yet by the pattern within. Let every pen be broken, save for the feather of Reality’s Breath, fluttering in our chests, blowing through the hollowed out reed, playing the music divine…
Oh, ye lovers, taste! Drink of the sweet spiced wine beyond all earthly grapes, that intoxicates only with the divine visitation! As the thorns prick the flesh and the drops of blood fall, so shall the red leaves fall and fade into winter’s bleak countenance. And yet beneath the face of death, the heart beats warm, and beneath the silent earth, the roots are down there riotous. The shell and the seed, the blossom and nectar, the comb and the honey, the case and the jewel, all meet in the returning to the One…
Oh, ye lovers, blush! The redness of eve converses with the paleness of the morn, and your honor is drowned in your amazement, as the cup send down by unseen hands that overflows, dazzling beyond mortal words. Let the yearning drain you of all you ever were, the pulsing of secret desire, and set you aflame as the moths are consumed by the lantern they court. Is the masjid of your soul ablaze, and the doors broken in? Can the heat ever be cooled or the thirst ever be quenched?
Oh, ye lovers, see! View all the worlds as only you can, with the eyes of essence behind the eyes of form, as the self becomes like melting snow, and the moon beams turn all to silver glass. The soul is taken up by her, translucent as her light, and none might see the depths of her journeys. Yet you see now as you have never seen before. Let the gawkers gawk on; wear the shirt of blame and embrace the naked secret! The sun squanders itself a thousand times over so the moon might draw breath, and a new tale might be woven, and a new bead upon the prayer string pulled along. And so we soar, ever closer to the Source and Summit…
Oh, ye lovers, fly! Journey as the flaming arrow, cutting through the night sky with smokeless light, Circle as the birds that must descend and let the wind carry them upwards again! Make your nests in the mountains, on the lonely and far, distant isles. Follow the footprints along the shore to the bridegroom’s chamber. Let it be as your chapel cell, and draw prayer around you as the silken perfume that stains the hands of your Beloved. The wind will brush His hair against His brow, and the chains of His curls have enraptured you! Let the atoms of your being dance in the ecstasy of non-being before the Self-sustaining One, the All-in-All! Oh, how He wounds my soul with His softest sighing…
Oh, ye lovers, hear! Listen to the voice within you that calls you so often, the will between seen and unseen that reveals itself through all the senses, and yet is beyond them all. Kiss and be kissed by the wind, for it is softer than any lips, and fear not when the kiss ends and lips grow dry. You will pray until they bleed, and believe yourself forsaken in the dark night of your soul, crossed between heaven and hell in exile. And yet you will hear, in your own voice echoing, the sound the Beloved beckoning. You may wander the desert as Majnun seeking Lela, as Solomon seeking Sheba, as the Maji seeking Jesus, and emptiness must be your consolation. Wisdom seeks beauty, and beauty clothes wisdom…
Oh, ye lovers, cry! The time of union has come, and the tears will flow into a saving oasis in a world of aridity. The universe will encompass your moaning and swallow the sound of music into the abyss of silence. Come see, all you pass by, what love has wrought! Is there any sorrow so great as she brings? The cloud of unknowing has descended, as over Sinai when the bush burned unendingly, and the darkness of God protects the soul from itself. The veil has fallen, and yet the veil shall be parted, and the face of the Beloved shall be glimpsed…
Oh, ye lovers, touch! Feel the rain upon the garden of the soul, watering it with the yearning that would drive you to madness. Let it drive you down, to your knees in the churches, or prostrate, foreheads to the ground, in the mosques, and let in your returning, let the Gentle One show gentleness to you at the threshold of your love. The humble poet speaks his lines, and the Noble King knows the meaning beyond the barrier of language, for it is the King who inspires the poet and compels the pen to write. It is the Great Song that sings through countless manifestations, geometry as intricate as the spider’s web, and were the threads that veined through all creations, the worlds would suffocate of their own ugliness.
Oh, ye lovers, die! Kiss the goblet that brings death’s bitter mead. Abandon oneself as a child in its mother’s arms, as a lover embracing, losing herself in the heartbeat of her mate, and the two becoming one, dissolving like the stars in the pearl of the dawn. It starts with only a grain of sand, grating within the shell, and yet when the oyster’s mouth opens, the gleam is realized. Be as the vanishing form that leaves no shadows! We do not fall into a monster’s abyss, but arrive at the doorstep of belonging. The grave is the curtain of paradise, where the mouth closes and the eyes open to a wordless world, even as the ground your knees or foreheads touched will mourn for you. Abandon all you ever sought to be, and in dying, let your spirit be released from its tower cell!
Oh, ye lovers, be reborn! Let your cares fade in the morning’s mist and dim amongst the fairness of the lily’s caress. Be like the womb of the Virgin Mary, the enchanted lady, who nurtured truth in the pure boy Jesus, the dome encasing the spirit, the lamp nurturing the flame within the niche, the natural birthing the miracle. The caravan has set out across the dunes to the origin from whence it came, to whence it all began. Let the bucket be lowered in the well of Abraham, only to rise upon filled with Living Water! The time has come to end a harsh and scarce era and start a new life…ah, the sheer grace!
Oh, ye lovers, in the evening of life we shall be judged by love! Love on, love on, for Love is all there is!
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