A beautiful writing invitation: Begin and end a piece of your own writing with lines from A Great Wagon, by Rumi. For the one below, I used the lines, “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” and “There are hundreds of ways to knell and kiss the ground.” For further inspiration, listen to On Being with Krista Tippet as she interviews Fatemeh Keshavarz, a professor of Persian & Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of several books, including Reading Mystical Lyric: The Case of Jalal aI-Din Rumi. I have included the full Rumi poem at the end of the post.
Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do
What is the beauty I love?
Caring, nurturing, supporting
living – breathing
feeling the love that dances between us, the light we move in.
Nature, in greenery and sunlight, blossoming and offering
A child, in motion and at rest
An adult, in relaxation and creativity.
Being in loving relationship
with plants, animals, stones and people
creating art, writing poetry, telling stories
inventing new technologies, growing vegetables,
caring for children, dancing, singing and playing musical instruments.
Imagine – is that all there is, living and loving till you die?
Then you become the light that your descendants move in, the love that dances between.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
A Great Wagon by Rumi
When I see your face, the stones start spinning! You appear; all studying wanders. I lose my place.
Water turns pearly. Fire dies down and doesn’t destroy.
In your presence I don’t want what I thought I wanted, those three little hanging lamps.
Inside your face the ancient manuscripts Seem like rusty mirrors.
You breathe; new shapes appear, and the music of a desire as widespread as Spring begins to move like a great wagon. Drive slowly. Some of us walking alongside are lame!
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.
I would love to kiss you. The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting, What a bargain, let’s buy it.
Daylight, full of small dancing particles and the one great turning, our souls are dancing with you, without feet, they dance. Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?
They try to say what you are, spiritual or sexual? They wonder about Solomon and all his wives.
In the body of the world, they say, there is a soul and you are that.
But we have ways within each other that will never be said by anyone.
Come to the orchard in Spring. There is light and wine, and sweethearts in the pomegranate flowers.
If you do not come, these do not matter. If you do come, these do not matter.