TODAY IS the Birthday of America’s Best-selling Poet

[After reading the above headline, certain names may come to mind: Emily Dickensen, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg. All great poets and good guesses, but wrong answers. The very surprising answer (to the overwhelming majority of Americans) is a 13th century mystic poet Jelaluddin Rumi. Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat observe, “In his day and in ours, his students are people from all traditions — Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and others. He speaks to the universal yearning for a closer connection to the Divine.” Here are two poems from two of about a dozen collections that I own. One nice thing about Amazon and Kindle is that you can see a sample to learn if a book might be to your liking.]

A story is like water
that you heat for your bath.
It takes messages between the fire
and your skin. It lets them meet,
and it cleans you!
Very few can sit down
in the middle of the fire itself
like a salamander or Abraham.
We need intermediaries.
A feeling of fullness comes,
but usually it takes some bread
to bring it.
Beauty surrounds us,
but usually we need to be walking
in a garden to know it.
The body itself is a screen
to shield and partially reveal
the light that’s blazing
inside your presence.
Water, stories, the body,
all the things we do, are mediums
that hide and show what’s hidden.
Study them,
and enjoy this being washed
with a secret we sometimes know,
and then not.

Rumi Peter Washington, editor, Rumi Poems: Everyman’s Library of Pocket Poets. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2006, p. 85f.


The Net of Gratitude

Giving thanks for abundance
is sweeter than abundance itself:
Should one who is absorbed with the Generous One
be distracted by the gift?
Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence;
abundance is but the husk,
for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
Abundance yields heedlessness;
thankfulness brings alertness:
hunt for bounty with the net of gratitude.

Rumi. Kabir Helminski, editor, The Rumi Collection. Boston: Shambala Publications,1998, p. 70.









About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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One Response to TODAY IS the Birthday of America’s Best-selling Poet

  1. Thank you for honoring the birthday of Rumi. He is one of my top three favorite poets. His words sing down through the ages! Were he living in the land of his birth today, would we be able to hear his voice? Have you read his “Jesus poems”?

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