Today I heard a beautiful reading of the poem Cry Out In Your Weakness by the Sufi poet Rumi. The reading, the poem itself, and the photographs that accompanied the poem all worked on me and softened my heart. Reading and hearing this poem reminded me of the post Easter gospel story of the two disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus while crying about their loss of their teacher who had been so recently crucified. A stranger joined them and when they tried to tell him their sorrowful story he stayed with them, did not alleviate their pain, but allowed them to talk and I am sure to weep and to wail. The stranger, who they had not recognized because they were lost in their sorrow, was Jesus himself.
Rumi speaks also about telling the truth, painful as it is, about our sorrow. In fact, he says that it is important to not only tell your sorrow but to give it away, as the disciples in their story telling gave their weeping to Jesus. Rumi says “Give your weakness to one who helps. Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.” Crying out loud and weeping are great resources not only because crying releases your anguish, but also because it gives another person the chance to be there to help. Sometimes we are surprised to see who really wants to be there for us. Again, from Rumi, “There are such helpers in the world, who rush to save anyone who cries out. Like mercy itself, they run toward the screaming. And they can’t be bought off. If you were to ask one of those, “Why did you come so quickly?” he or she would say, “Because I heard your helplessness.”
Some of us were trained from a young age to not show helplessness. We may hear and run toward another person’s helplessness but we do not show our own. We were trained to be self sufficient, always capable, sturdy and even stoic. Maybe there was a good reason for this training. Maybe it helped us for a while as we pushed our way up the hill of life. Maybe our parents, or whoever else taught us this way of managing pain and sorrow were unaware of the lessons they were passing along. Maybe they thought that these lessons would protect us from needless suffering. This I do not know. But what I do know is that when we walk through life with a brave face even as we are being bruised and battered by the storm, that we lose a chance to be softened, and deeply healed. Rumi says “Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent with your pain. Lament! And let the milk of loving flow into you.” When we are silent with our pain we close off the nourishing milk of loving. We starve ourselves rather than cry.
Rumi was a Sufi mystic. His Beloved, was everywhere, in the beauty of the world and in the pain that ripped through his life. Just as Jesus was so in love with humanity that he emptied himself of everything that kept him separate from his fellow travelers, Rumi too preached a message of mercy incarnate. Mercy, he believed, is our birthright and our salvation and we should not hesitate to fill ourselves at the well. “And don’t just ask for one mercy. Let them flood in. Let the sky open under your feet.”
Today, I give thanks for every tear that I have shed and for every stranger and Beloved Friend who has rushed to sit by my side. Weeping and wailing are great resources. Thanks be for tears and the one who helps.