In Rumi’s Fields

In Rumi’s fields
beyond the contours
of right and wrong-doing
you can find me
finding my true self.

For years I searched the earth
navigating for answers in the knotted wind-blown grasses.
But this mid-morning
in place of answers, a peacefulness reaches me there.
Beckoning from the far edges of my awareness,
from the home of all I don’t know.

Perhaps it traveled on the vibrating hum of the bee song?
Or, in the wind that filtered up through the old oak tree,
the underbelly of its spring leaves flashing and flirting with the sky?
Perhaps it came from the heart of the world.

Beyond right and wrongdoing, you are what you are.
Neither oak nor bee, but human.
Irreplaceably, individually, humanly you.


Understand. These words were not spoken.
They were signals cast across consciousness
making clear
in bee song
how bees sing bee,
(not the sharp alarm of the falcons
also circling the skies,)
making clear
the oaks dress this way in the spring,
(not pining for the pine needles that hold on
tight through the winter,
sap-laden and Cyprus strong.)

You are only what you are.
In the great network, long ago,
your own sovereignty
was already chosen.

And this was how I listened today,
in Rumi’s fields,
where languages I don’t know
I don’t know
were spoken
and I found myself fallen open,
beyond answers or questions,
to the listening.


It was as a child in Europe
where I began to search for answers in the fields.
I hoped, myself, to become the language between seasons,
the sentences that could tie things together,
that could tie my family together,
one precious season to the next.

In those fields,
a generation earlier
men’s bodies had lunged forward into battle.
And were lost.
The men who returned
were lost to their bodies.
In those fields,
mothers turned cold,
their lips tightening,
holding back the truths of their
broken hearts. (One doesn’t talk about it.)

But this hidden history called out, “see me!”
through my parents’ and grandparent’s eyes.So I navigated the knotted, wind-blown grasses,
gathering up ghosts and abandoned memories on my back,
offering my shoulders to the grief.
I ate the poison others couldn’t,
believing If I swallowed it all,
it would give me the understanding others had lost,
…and with understanding
I could find the words others refused to speak,
…and with words
I could form sentences for the stories I would write
…and with stories
I could make us whole.
I could mend the loss.
I could keep us safe.
I could bind us together.

I was a child.
A collector of bullets.
A lover of words.
A lover.
But I took
what wasn’t mine.


Five decades later,
a continent away in California,
the bee song reaches me for the first time.

Perhaps I can hear it today
because after all these years
my shoulders have finally tired of gathering ghosts.
Perhaps because my eyes are weary of the search
and the steady chorus is so velvety,
so enticing,
I can’t help but surrender.
Perhaps, it is because I am becoming the girl I was,
before the girl I became.
Perhaps because the real world reaches us,
only when we are readied to receive it.

You can’t carry what belongs to the lives of others… the grief they cannot bear is not yours to carry… what they abandon is theirs for the reclamation… be who you are in this one, precious life… love simply, what you love, simply.

And this is the part in my searching I had missed all these years.
Not that their weight wasn’t mine to bear,
but that this is OK.
It is more than OK.
It is my birthright.
This family of trees and insects greets me.
They buzz and flicker — “What took you so long? Join us in the homecoming!”

Like the Great Oak, that king of the open field,
whose seasonal thirst draws up through taproots,
and whose outreached branches flutter and flirt their new growth,
my heart now tends to its own sovereignty.
I need only enjoy the play of the wind
on my own arms, uplifted,
outstretched palms turned open to the sky.
Take me as I am.

I see, drawn out of the ether,
that it is kindness and honesty
that allow me to be delicate,
innocent,
human,
this way.

A thread circles down along the seams of my awareness
rooting me gently,
into the top layer of the earth.
How many of us have carried the weight of our forebearers’ unthinkable losses?
How loyal we have been in the carrying.
How loyal in our love.
How many of us have spent all our lives searching for bullets and ghosts
in the battlefields of our ancestors?
How our forebearers would surely wish for us to be free!


Beyond right and wrong-doing,
seeing, now, what is simply mine,
I lay down the losses, the bullets, and the ghosts.
I am worth it.
Worthy of my own irreplaceable weight.
No one asked me to hold anything together.
The holding is already here.
It is part of the Great Design.

This, then, my greatest generosity.
Not that of a child hoping,
against hope,
to tie the broken world back together.
But the gift of a woman

receiving my birthright.

My one life.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about. — Rumi

Looking over an Adirondack chair into a valley edged by wooded hills.
Bell Valley Retreat, Boonville, CA

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