Doing prayer and meditation at a particular time,
fasting, and going on pilgrimage
are outward statements of inner intention.
Giving to charity and giving up jealousy
are ways to say how it is inside us.
Serving food and welcoming guests into your house
are actions that mean, I feel close to you.
Any time you exert yourself by going somewhere,
giving money, or taking time to pray,
you are saying, There is a priceless jewel inside me.
Fasting says, I have not eaten
even what is permitted. I must want no connection
to what is not. Giving to the poor says,
I am distributing my own property.
Certainly, I will not steal from others.
There are, though, fowlers who throw out grain
to snare birds, and cats who pretend to fast,
fast-asleep, when really they are peeking
through eye-slits to ambush prey.
They give generosity a bad name.
But despite all crookedness,
water comes from the star Arcturus
to wash even the hypocrites.
When our water here
becomes saturated with pollution,
it gets led back to the original water, the ocean.
After a year of receiving starlight,
the water returns, sweeping new robes along.
Where have you been? In the ocean of purity.
Now I’m ready for more cleaning work.
Give me your demons. I’ll take them to sea.
If there were no impurity, what would water do?
It shows its glory in how it washes a face,’
and in other qualities as well,
the way it grows the grass
and how it lifts a ship across to another port.
Every medicinal ointment derives essence
from water, as every pearl and every seed.
A river is a shop of salves,
food for the abandoned, movement
for those who are stuck.
When the river slows with the weight of silt
and corruption, it grows sad and prays,
Lord, what you gave me I gave others.
Is there more? Can you give more?
Clouds then draw up the riverwater,
and dissolve it in the ocean.
What this means is
we often need to be refreshed.
Mingling with surroundings, the soul falls ill.
It calls out to the first caller-out, Bilal,
revive us. Beat the drum that glides us along.
As the body stands at prayer,
the soul says, Peace, my friend,
then leaves for a while.
When it comes back, you don’t have to do ablutions
with sand anymore or guess which way
to point the prayer rug.
Water is the story of how we are helped.
Hot baths prepare us to enter the fire.
Only salamanders can go directly in
without an intermediary, salamanders and Abraham.
The rest of us need guidance from water.
Satisfaction comes from God,
but to get there you need to eat bread.
Beauty comes from the presence,
but those of us in bodies
must walk in a garden to feel it.
When this body-medium goes, we will see directly
the light that lives in the chest.
The qualities of water show
how we move inside grace.
Poem from The Essential Rumi