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Returning to Rumi
There is a Rumi poem that the Unitarian Universalists sing frequently:
Come, come, whoever you are, wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. Ours is no caravan of despair. Come, yet again come.
As I returned to my meditation practice during the pandemic I relied heavily on music for meditation. Some time last spring, the app I was using suggested Egemen Sanli’s version of this poem. So I played it, expecting cognitive dissonance of a different melody, but perhaps comfort of familiar words.
Instead I discovered a missing piece.
This is the original Rumi poem (or, rather, the dominant English translation of the Rumi poem)
Come, come, whoever you are. Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vow A thousand times Come, yet again, come, come.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times.
As I have sat with this song in the months since I discovered it (more often as a backdrop to work or writing since I found it to not work well for my meditation needs) I have wondered over and over: How and why did the UUs leave out the most important part? It’s a question I abandon quickly. That’s not the kind of digging I want to do. And I haven’t attended church in years and barely even identify myself as UU anymore.
But I come back over and over to the poem as a whole. Come back to “even if you have broken your vow a thousand times.”
I began the first entry in this blog with a quote from Beckett that ends with “Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.”
If you think you might be seeing a theme emerge, you would probably not be mistaken.
I am leaning into trying to give myself this grace. Trying to learn to fail and pick myself up and continue on. Kindly.
In my meditation it takes the form of:
Focus on the breath.
Recognize loss of Focus.
Return to the breath.
Repeat Again and again and again.
Most days I am able to do this without inserting a step: 3a Berate self for loss of focus. I will not pretend it is easy, but it is usually achievable. At least for the short period each day that I practice it.
The rest of the day is another thing entirely.
My intention for the day is fundamentally the same. Focus and refocus. Be kind, to myself and to those around me.
And I fail. I lose focus. I break under frustration and yell. I fail to be the parent I want to be. Over and over. Some days it feels like 1,000 times.
But I try, still, to not add that extra step. I try not to load myself down with guilt and self-criticism. There too, I fail. At the end of bad days the internal voice telling me that I am a terrible mother is a loud one. (Once upon a time, this would have been the pattern with all my shortcomings. But these days, I can shrug off my professional failings much more easily as simply a bad day, rather than somehow being an indicator of my character).
So I return to Rumi. I search for solace in trying again. I remind myself that my son loves me (enough to wake me up in the morning to tell me so) and that I love him (enough to NOT wake him to tell him so). I remind myself that I am trying. I remind myself that this practice allows me to sometimes catch myself before I yell.
I work to forgive myself.
Even if I have broken my vows 1,000 times.