"You are the prayer. I am the Amen."
Last week, in a contemplative practice I lead, I read “The Self We Share” by Rumi. The words of the poem have stayed with me, dropping deeply into my heart and my psyche. We’ve passed the one-year mark of a horrific assault on our own U.S. Capitol by Americans during the transfer authority from one president to the next. We’re coming up on the second anniversary of running headlong into a worldwide pandemic – on the magnitude of something none of us on earth has lived through. Other major world powers are flexing their political muscles, threatening aggressive actions against neighboring nations. Quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, Mother Nature persistently reminds us that we’ve already gone too far, assuming we humans want to continue to consider ourselves a part of the ecosystem.
Here’s what Rumi wrote sometime in the mid 1200s, roughly 750 + years ago.
Look fish, you are already in the ocean.
Just swimming there makes you friends with glory.
What are these grudges about?
You are Benjamin.
Joseph has put a gold cup in your grain sack
and accused you of being a thief.
Now he draws you aside and says,
You are my brother. I am a prayer. You are the Amen.
We move in eternal regions,
yet we worry about property here.
Let this be the prayer of each:
You are the source of my life.
You bring rivers from the mountain springs.
You brighten my eyes.
The wine you offer takes me out of myself
into the self we share.
Doing that is religion.
This is hard stuff to reconcile. You are the source of my life. YOU? are the source of MY? life. Ah, but you are.
You are my brother. I am the prayer. You are the Amen.
I’m struggling with this as some of the people I love hold views opposing my own regarding – at least, right now in January 2022 – vaccinations for Covid and political rights vis-à-vis inherent obligations as citizens, to name two big ones. Who you vote for and why, what we should teach our children, whether we should have universal health care…those are all smaller things that we need to hash out, too. But here’s the thing. We – you, me, all of us – we do not live forever. And so, neither does our opinion on things. Opinions we feel passionate about. That dies with us. When we’re gone – poof! Our opinion is gone.
But life? All the rest of life is not gone when we die. Life goes on without us.
So, think: You are the source of my life. I am the prayer. You are the Amen. We share a self. If we hurt, or hate, each other day in/day out, we hurt or hate ourselves while we are here.
We move in eternal regions. Go out of your self, into the self we share. Let this be your practice for the week ahead.
Peace and love to you.