I recently started taking a morning yoga class that always culminates with the instructor reading a poem from the same hardcover book that crackles with age every time she opens it. I'm picky when it comes to poetry (it can be so trite or so abstract and personal to the author that it does nothing for me), but every poem she has read from this book has felt comfortable and familiar or exactly what I needed to hear. After the second class, I went up to the instructor and learned that she was reading from "The Gift" by Hafiz, a Sufi poet.
Fast forward to a few nights ago... I was in bed and reading the final chapter of "A Geography of Faith: An Alter in the World." The last passage of this book is a quote with a footnote. The quote resonated with me because I had just spoken with a musician friend of mine who confessed to me that he was feeling disenchanted with his craft. The quote went like this:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
A couple days later on Saturday morning I was curled up in a chair with a cup of coffee and a book called "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann. It won a National Book Award, and I certainly can see why. McCann has a great command of the English language, describing very ordinary things in extraordinary ways. I've actually been reading the book with a pen in hand, just so I can underline passages that I think are particularly clever. ANYWAY, so I'm reading this one story about a hooker in the Bronx (McCann's book is a collection of short stories that take place in NYC; eventually the stories start overlapping and weaving together to form a bigger picture - I love that!) and this hooker is talking about this trick she had with a man who took her to a lavish hotel for an entire week. He didn't want to touch her; he just wanted her to lie naked and read poetry to him -- in particular, Persian poems that spoke of ancient Syria and Persia.
So, I'm passively reading through this scene in McCann's book and then my heart leaps when I stumble across:
I left with eight hundred bucks and a copy of Rumi. I never read nothing like that before. Made me want to have a fig tree.
Call me crazy or a romantic or whatever, but I'm 100 percent certain now that this is divine intervention. Apparently The Man Upstairs thinks I'd benefit from reading a little Rumi right about now. So, it's off to BookPeople I go!