A taste of Rumi before Yom Kippur
September 29, 2006
To help us prepare for the fast of Yom Kippur, here's a quotation from the poet Rumi, which I found in this Ramadan readings post from Baraka:
There is an unseen sweetness in the stomach's emptiness.
We are lutes. When the soundbox is filled, no music can come forth.
When the brain and the belly burn from fasting, every moment a new song rises out of the fire. The mists clear, and a new vitality makes you spring up the steps before you.
Be empty and cry as a reed instrument.
Be empty and write secrets with a reed pen.
When satiated by food and drink, an unsightly metal statue is seated where your spirit should be.
When fasting, good habits gather like helpful friends. Fasting is Solomon's ring.
Don't give in to illusion and lose your power. But even when will and control have been lost, they will return when you fast, like soldiers appearing out of the ground, or pennants flying in the breeze.
I especially love "Be empty and cry as a reed instrument" (which I can't help mentally reshaping into "Be empty and cry as a horn instrument," thinking of the wail of the shofar) and "Be empty and write secrets with a reed pen," which resonates for me as a hint of the ineffable way that poems can arise out of unknowing.
I'm off to Elat Chayyim (in its new home at the Isabella Freedman
Center) for a Shabbat
Shuvah and Yom Kippur retreat, so I won't be online again until
after the holiday. (Spending Yom Kippur there last year was amazing; this year I'm looking forward to using Shabbat Shuvah as a time to really dig into preparing for the holiday.)
Tzom kal, everyone -- an easy fast to you, whether you're fasting just for Yom Kippur or during every daytime of Ramadan. May your observance bring you closer to the meaning that you seek.