Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rumi Day 1: The Road Home

An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain, moving between huge stacks
of wheat, not knowing the abundance
all around. It thinks its one grain
is all there is to love.

So we choose a tiny seed to be devoted to.
This body, one path or one teacher.
Look wider and farther.

The essence of every human being can see,
and what that essence-eye takes in,
the being becomes. Saturn. Solomon!

The ocean pours through a jar,
and you might say it swims inside
the fish! This mystery gives peace to
your longing and makes the road home home.

Me: Certain common experiences abhor me: The realization that I am like other women (millions, billions?) who have come before me and will go after me in my longing for a child; the realization that we are fundamentally changed by giving birth (women and men) or by adopting a child; the realization that certain life experience will choose me. This time when I lose the pregnancy--when I begin to bleed and bleed--I refuse to stay home. I find myself at a job fair amid dozens of various folks all vying for a position at a call center selling garden supplies and goods. While I peck away at a keyboard in a cubicle searching for "plant stands" and writing a pretend letter of request to my pretend boss, tissue slides out of me, while I stroll through the call center staring at the personal photos of other people's children, blood clots ooze forth. I'm laughing, hysterical, carrying on with a woman in an interview like I'm on top of the world as the pad I'm wearing fills up with blood. Good job she says, good job. My stomach is in knots as I drive away after two hours of job fairing. The phone rings and its the midwife calling to give me the official news of the miscarriage.

 I don't want to mourn this. I will not find a stone, a piece of yarn, a wooden angel....yet, this morning I stand in the hallway looking at a bookshelf. On the shelf there are two wooden angels, one I've had for years, the other a close friend gave me after my last miscarriage. I have a vision of a shelf filled with wooden angels, dozens of them all representing miscarriages: dancing angels, leaping angels, sleeping angels, angels bowing deep in prayer. I have miscarriages like crazy old women have cats.

Doctors call miscarriages "spontaneous abortions" and I can't help thinking of something fun when I hear the word "spontaneous." I think of my mom telling me as a child to get outside and do something. What Mom, what? I don't know be spontaneous, go on an adventure. Medical terms are usually so dry and dead, not this one.

I am of course Rumi's ant, clinging to my small seed, my singular body, my one god, my one path. Again, I do not want to mourn this. Much to my chagrin, when I denounce God to two of my close mentor-like women friends one says "fuck god" and the other says "good for you". They are both, mind you, very spiritual women--one is in fact a minister. So now I have nothing to grasp at, to pummel; I am terrified that God can be so easily tampered with. It's not like I don't know that bad things happen to "good" people; it's just that I'm not "people."

What is the essence of every human being? What is it that the essence-eye sees? I don't read Rumi like a scholar, I read him like a drunk, an addict, a lover, out of desperation, hunger and need. How do we look wider and further? How do you? How do I? Let the path open forth, let the heart hang its tendrils like unhidden organs, let the mind be silent, practice and be humble. What is the essence of our humaness?

The last stanza grabs me, takes me, satisfies. What does he mean? I react to this stanza with joy, but my mind lingers here trying to chop it up, cut it down to size, excavate something. The ocean, the ocean? I know what it means to make the road home home, but what does it mean to say the ocean swims inside the fish? And, why does the ocean pour through a small and simple jar?

The sun sets over the lake. Bare treees in the park. The snow is over a foot deep, its surface a smooth untouched layer. I hear my husband on the steps. The door turns and he is home. All the snow of the miles and miles of roadside snow banks turns brown, gray, sooty. I bought another sweater on sale today.

Make the road home home.

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