“The devotees of Rumi founded the Mevlevi brotherhood, a Sufi order that is based upon his teachings. Rumi wrote: Fihi ma Fihi
, ‘It is what it is.’ The Divan
, inspired by Shams.
is six biblical books. `The Oil man and his Parrot, The Chinese and Greek Artist, Ali’s Forbearance, Sufi’s Beast.' All are stories.
, is a history of the world, as well as a book of geography and politics. It was completed after Shams died.”
Kewe says, “I know about Shams. Tell me more about Shams.”
Rick looks at him, searches for a phrase. “‘Shams of Tabriz – is light, a Sun o’ he is, one of the beams of God!’
“That’s how Rumi thought of the dancer and the Master that became his beloved.
“The dance was more than whirling rapidly. As a dervish twirled, a spiritual ecstasy would descend that spread from the dancer over the crowd watching.
“Shamsuddin was a master. His flow, that which he produced, his ecstasy, held no equal. When Shams came to the town on a visiting tour, Rumi was thirty-seven. It was said at the time that Shams was burning and when Rumi met him, Rumi caught fire.
“Something occurred, some recognition of a soul identity that defined the bond between the two. Rumi fell into an abyss of love.
“For fifteen months Shams lived in a little house in Konya, Turkey. The ‘de Shams Mosque’ is still the name they give to the house today. Then Shams disappeared.
“Rumi’s disciples had not failed to notice the change in their Master after he met Shams. The connection established between the two men cut Rumi off from his disciples.
“They didn’t recognize that Shams brought to Rumi, Spirit, alive in all its mystery.
“Because of jealously, because of abuse and threats, Sham’s fled the town twice. Rumi sent his son Veled to search for Shams, and Shams was persuaded to return to Konya.
“It was the third time back that it happened. Shams had returned only five weeks.”
Rick continues, “Several stories have come down through time about the disappearance. Many believe Shams was murdered by jealous disciples of Rumi. No killer or killers were ever uncovered.
“With a final disappearance of Shams, Rumi expressed his love through odes. He writes about Shams in many of his later works. Even today Rumi's poetry is extremely popular. In all major languages there are translations.”
Kewe listening attentively, asks, “Rumi and Shams, you think it was emotional and sexual love, as well as spiritual love?”
Rick takes a moment to answer. “There are plenty of sexual overtones to his poetry. Rumi thought of sex as an aspect of God, I’m sure. It’s difficult to know the kind of love Rumi had for Shams. Does it matter?”
“Check that out.” Rick points to a tree that cleverly resembles a fox.
Passing one of the gardens, they have seen yew and several other types of trees cropped into the shape of animals. The tree that Rick is pointing to, has not only
been cut into a fox shape, red berries grow from the mouth. The fading sun shining upon the berries makes the fox look as if it’s holding an animal that’s bleeding in the fox’s mouth.
“Ugh! Bizarre stuff!” Kewe makes a motion with his hand to brush the sight away.
Kewe says, “I wanted to talk about the Sufi, the prayer service is Friday. The Sufi musicians at the folk life festival gave me goose bumps with their playing. A small carried drum had a leaf-rustling sound, metal rings on the fringe. I had such a feeling of being taken back in time.
“You were one of Rumi’s disciples?”
“I don’t believe I’ve had any past lives!”
“Oh! I thought you told me...”
“I’ve changed my opinion. I would say they are soul’s lives, my soul, but now I wonder if they are lives part of me had.”
“Part of you?”
“I cannot explain it. I know the first time I became aware of such a thing as past lives, I had the belief that I never had any. That I was a newly born entity.
“We are all newly born entities.”
“I know! I don’t think we are all the same. Some of us have had past lives.”
“Those flashes you have had, the dreams, you don’t think you have lived those lives?”
“I think I was tapping in a life of another!
Cannot explain it any other way.”
“When the Persian musician announced they would be playing at the Sufi service, and it was at the college blocks from me, I thought I’d have to go.
“Now I think it is more than me taking an interest. Some spirit wants me at this place, and I think it is a ‘High Spirit.”’
“You should at least check it out,” Rick says. “I bet you’ll find it more than interesting. I’d go with you if I didn’t have to work.”
They have been walking on a road Kewe is not familiar with even though they walk a lot in this area. The large open gardens at the front seem especially well decorated. One lawn has a border of pale-yellow lemon gems, placed with velvety-leafed bronze coleus.
“You like the flowers?” Kewe asks, staring at the lawn, then at a Japanese snowbell tree, the white, bell-shaped flowers giving off the slightest whiff of fragrance.
“Can you see the colored aura around the flowers? I’m getting such a strong presence as we’re walking here tonight. Can you feel it, Rick?”
Standing for a moment as two squirrels run across their path, both wait watch them climb up a sprawling tree. Unexpectedly, squirrel eyes peek out from the branches. A startled thrush flies away.
Kewe brushing a winged seed fallen onto his hair, says, “Something is happening.” He flicks the seed away. “The top of my head chakra feels completely open”
Rick glances up at the darkening sky. “Venus will be bright tonight.”
“You believe in scenarios?”
“Scenarios,” Rick asks. “You mean as with scenes in a play?”
“Something like that,” Kewe answers. “Like a scene in a play where we play as actors. Only it’s real life.”
“You think that is happening now?”
At a walled garden with purple and white lilac, the power draws them into it.
The air, thick with wrapping fragrance, lilac, night honeysuckle, is intoxicating. A shuffling makes Kewe look around, but trickling water behind the bushes is also getting his attention.
The sound of water running over stone has a flow of energy he’s sure he feels around him, a flow that wants them near the water.
Rick bends down to pick seed from a mass of feathery dill growing on the ground. Crushing the seed inside the palm of his hand, he places the oil to his face, smelling the pungent aroma.
Suddenly Kewe tears off.
Surprised at the quickness, Rick follows him along a path to a small courtyard. Flowers are everywhere, magenta primulas, soft, silvery-leafed caladium, strongly perfumed roses, the night-flower pervading fragrance adding to the sense of an extra-unseen realness.
A stone fountain at the courtyard center has a circle of lanterns.
Each lantern has a flower basket underneath. From the baskets, small, blossoms of pastel-apricot begonias cast delicate reflecting images inside the cascading water.
The dusky light, increasingly has a sense of the not-quite-physical, and the trickling water, for a reason that Kewe cannot understand, has within its sound a mysterious, ethereal quality.
The sound is telling him the presence waits here.
Rick reaches down, touches the edge of the fountain sculpture. A thin veil of mist waters his hand.
“The trickle, the way the water falls,” Kewe shouts, pointing to the fountain. “That’s the sound. Wes hould be here.” In a flash, he turns, begins wandering alone into the garden. Kewe thinks... it’s almost as if, among the sweet, night shadows, that he can see a man standing. A man is standing against the bushes.
A man dressed in robes. The man is speaking words, the word sounds are dissolving, and again as with Robert, Kewe in his excitement cannot contain them.
Kewe looks at the man. He wants to ask! Power pours through his head, through the crown of his skull. He feels the energy as it courses through him, as it fogs his vision.
The spot above his eyes is boiling hot.
The man smiles, winks at him, disappears.
. . .
A note is fixed on Kewe’s refrigerator door.
For the past few minutes he’s been trying to overlook the note telling him the Sufi Meeting is tonight.
Staring, he groans. He has to go out tonight. He’s exhausted. A rough day, he wants to have his feet up, watch a movie.
But some energy is pushing.
Why not go, the college is only a two-minute walk away, he won’t stay long.
Getting ready, he closes the apartment door. The theater-in-the-square, the main art hall of the campus, has a play performing there that night.
After waiting in line for a ticket, the ticket seller tells him the Sufi meeting is across the street at the college’s sports center basketball court.
Kewe walks over to the brand new sport’s building, a three-level place he’s been to once before.
Inside the lobby a paper sign taped on the wallhas, ‘Sufi’ and an arrow pointing upwards.
As Kewe climbs the stairs, he begins to back away from going through with the service.
Seriously, he thinks to himself, he has no idea of the requirements of a Sufi prayer meeting, all it will entail, and he is shy for one thing.
The wide stairway takes him to an upstairs foyer. One of the double doors leading into the basketball court is open. A desk has been placed by the open door. A young woman sits behind the desk.
The foyer on the far side overlooks the street. Kewe, not ready to go inside, walks to the large picture window stares at the view below.
Thoughts are creeping in that he should go home.
Through the reflection of the glass, he can see the basketball playing area. The playing area has a white canopy erected above it.
People are sitting on mats that are outside the perimeter of the large canopy. A stranger to this, he tells himself, he has no idea what takes place.
Kewe begins to stride back and forth. The idea of even going inside the court is making him shake.
Pacing on the plush new carpet he is in no way ready, he tells himself, to do this yet.
Each time he turns, he gets a better look of the inside of the gym. A hundred people at least on the mats, some on small mats, groups on larger mats.
They sit talking, obviously waiting for the service to begin. Top end of the court are the musicians he listened to at the Folk Festival.
They sit on folding chairs. All the instruments are laid down.
The young woman at the desk, and Kewe pacing, are alone in the foyer. Retreating, just reaching the top stair, about to slip back down, the young woman calls out to him.
Kewe says, “I’m sorry. Are you talking to me?”
“You have come here for the devotion of the dervish?”
“Oh! Oh!” Kewe answers. “These are Sufi?”
He points to the people in the gym. “Are all these people part of the Sufi ceremony?”
“These have come for the prayer service,” the young woman answers in a foreign accent. “Waiting with the sheikh are the practiced
dervish. Those you see wait for the service to begin.”
“The sheikh?” Kewe looks at her. “There is a sheikh? I had no idea. I’ve never been.”
She is laughing at the strange expression he is giving her. “I understand,” she says. “Do not worry.”
Kewe is trying to find a way that he will be able to excuse himself only the girl seems to hold him in her eyes.
“I’m not sure of the procedures,” Kewe looks down at the table. “Is this where people pray?”
In slightly broken English she informs him the service will begin with a poem of praise to the Prophet.
Poems of the Maulana will be read, and then the practiced dervish will enter and the Sema will begin.
The first salaam will introduce the dance by the kissing of the hand of the sheikh.
The sheikh, she emphasizes, is the sun. The dervishes are the orbiting planets.
The solar system is the Maulana, the beloved Rumi.
The dervish as they encircle the sheikh, will create steps of the way to union with Divine will. As the whirling proceeds, the sheikh will call Holy Spirit.
The dervish will carry Spirit into the world.
“You will dance yourself perhaps?”
The young woman gives him a big smile. “After the practiced dervish have completed their task, music will be for all to dance. Iknow you will take the opportunity.”
Kewe can see himself twirling around. “I think I will observe this time,” he says.
From the doorway, he looks at the shining, new polished wood of the gym floor. The area under the canopy is completely empty.
Not at all convinced he wants to proceed, he knows he cannot chicken out now.
On the table is a small wicker plate. A piece of cardboard behind has a handwritten sign ‘ten dollars’ with ‘donation’ underneath on the folded cardboard.
Searching his pocket for money, the young woman signals he should go inside.
“No, I want to pay,” Kewe insists, placing a ten-dollar bill on the plate.
She nods, folds the money into a box. She smiles. He smiles. With nothing left to do, he steps inside.
The moment he does, the musicians start the music. They’d been talking the last time he looked.
Now, instruments in their hands, they are at the beginning of a lively jig.
Them starting playing just as he enters the room, strikes him even at the time as peculiar, as if some intelligence had been waiting.
Kewe stands watching a few feet inside the doorway.
When the music stops, a man walks up to a podium at the left of the stage reads a verse not in English. Then music begins again. The musicians play a haunting piece.
Again within the strange cadences, the flows of rhythm that hypnotize.
In the clouded feelings that sweep across his mind, Kewe is touching, something. He needs a place to sit, but all the spaces on his side of the canopy are taken; people are standing at the bottom end it’s so crowded. On the far side of the room there are a few empty spots.
He has no idea why, when looking back later, why he decides to step under the canopy to walk clear across the emptiness to the far side. Where everyone will observe him.
Kewe is shy.
The last thing he would wish to do is to draw attention to himself in this fashion.
But he steps between the people sitting on the mats, people who have to shift sideways to allow him through.
What happens next is a wall stops him dead.
His foot is in mid-air.
He's taken a small, half-step into the empty space under the canopy, and now a voice is roaring roughly inside his head:
The musicians, and the man who has been reading the verses at the podium, are staring at him.
The music suddenly stopped, people turn to where the musicians are staring.
Now everyone is staring, at him.
Kewe, his leg still stuck in the air, has no idea what he should do. Surely they couldn’t have heard this voice. It was inside his head.
Then as if pushed slightly he’s withdrawn from the wall of air that has held his leg. He backs into the people sitting on the mats.
The man at the podium begins to read: