Today in London the Circle line isn’t running. In fact all tube lines are down. There is a strike on. Thank goodness for poems as this arrived in the night and was nestled safely in my in box. I am typing this out as I stand on the platform amongst other souls, some quiet some chatting about the mundane. But I’m calm and frazzled free with the blue skies above me and the sun warm on my bare neck and shoulders. Life is good.
Anyway back to the poem. The poem below isn’t about a tube line although it could be. It’s about surrendering to what is. There is very little in our control anyway.
Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
To gather us up.
We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
If we say we can, we’re lying.
If we say No, we don’t see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.
So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.
Roger Housden, a man known for his writing work, writes:
It seems the poem is asking us to drop all pretense at being the master of your life, or you won’t have the remotest chance of seeing how things really are. In this marvelous poem, Rumi is urging us not to demean or abase ourselves, but to be willing to stand there with our jaw dropped open. Our jaw rarely drops open because we don’t want to swallow a fly. We don’t want to be susceptible to the unknown, to unexpected circumstances that can blow in at any moment from any angle. Except that we are, and we know we are – all the time – which is why we hang on so tightly. We stay busy, we keep our focus narrow and the windows shut.
I read somewhere else in another wonderful blog that Rumi is not asking us to cringe in a corner, to feel small, or to fall in depression because we don’t know what to do or where to go. That is not the kind of helplessness he has in mind. Ultimately, these are all postures of defense in the face of the immensity. Look around, he is saying. Look at the millions of dust motes dancing. Stand there, arms wide open, and embrace the unspeakable paradox. Be dumbfounded, strung between yes and no, this direction and that, that answer and this.
Lovely. I’m considering the beauty of surrender and the grace of kindness.
PS. As I end this post I am on the train to Kings X and I even got a seat! See, the power of surrender does work.