Reflections by Jerry Webber

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Soul's Sadness and Love-Dogs

Within my soul I've felt a deep sadness in recent days. Something tender and unhealed within me has been touched by the world around me. My sadness has mingled with anger, and I've swung between the two in regular rhythms.

I'm also feeling desperate on behalf of others who are hurting in ways that are much more tangible (and real) than my own superficial difficulty, by those who regularly find themselves marginalized because of skin color, national origin, orientation, gender. A few of these persons I know by name, and vast millions have names and identities I do not know . . . but with them I nonetheless share a common life in this world. We are more the same than different, and of that I am confident.

This poem goads me on, presses me on down the path, pushes me to not give up or give in, says to me that even the sadness and anger of loss are full of union. Rumi's wisdom tills the field for connection.

Love Dogs
by Rumi

One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing
you express is the return message.”

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love-dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.

[trans. by Coleman Barks, in Robert Bly, The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures, p. 155 – 156.]

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