Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rumi and Husam, revisited

After completing the self-indulgent "One Week Challenge", I have decided to re-post this piece. I have added MEW's comment to the body of the text. It's the day before returning to school and a healthy dose of humility is in order as I return to my classroom. -C. 

I just read something about Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, and his friend Husam[1]. The story goes that Rumi pulled a piece of paper from his turban and read the first lines of the Mathnawi, which he had written that morning to Husam. 

                  “There must be more”, said Husam.
                  “If you will write for me, I will continue”, replied Rumi.

Twelve years later Husam had scribed six volumes containing over fifty-one thousand verses of poetry. Husam recalls that, “He [Rumi] never took a pen in his hand while composing the Mathnawi.” I can’t help but wonder at the remarkable sense of humility Husam had achieved. I’m not sure how much Husam is ever mentioned in discussions of the great poet, but I have to wonder if there would have been a Rumi without a Husam? Husam replied to Rumi, “From this moment, I am your servant” after hearing the promise of more poetry to come.

         I’d like know Husam a little bit better. Was it love? It had to be. My 21st century brain wants to know if it was romantic love, but my second thoughts dismiss the question as irrelevant. Did Husam have an intuition that there was twelve years of brilliance hiding in Rumi’s head? Did he recognize his own contribution to the creative process? Without a witness, without a scribe, I don’t believe Rumi could have produced the body of work that he did. His words would have been the proverbial tree falling in the woods. Husam reminds me of how different people draw out different aspects of us. What was it about this seemingly humble man that liberated the master to delve so deep into thought? Did Husam care for Rumi, feed him, cook, and clean , and serve?

         I think the Husam’s of this world go uncelebrated, and perhaps they prefer it that way. They are, after all, a modest and humble group. But, they make the world work. They make room for the genius to happen. They make the container that can hold the creation, which would otherwise spill onto the floor and be lost. I have no doubt that the world would be a better place if there were more Husams in it and less aspiring Rumis. 

MEW'S Comment:
as teachers aren't we all Husam? we get things out of others that might never come to light if we didn't ask for them. yet our role in their creation is never the focus of the final product.

[1] The Longing: Poetry, Teachings, Stories, and Letters of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne

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