the invisible walls,
the rotten masks that divide one man
from another, one man from himself,
for one enormous moment and we glimpse
the unity that we lost, the desolation
of being man, and all its glories,
sharing bread and sun and death,
the forgotten astonishment of being alive
From Octavio Paz’s long poem Sunstone / Piedra de Sol.
It’s the really hungry who can smell fresh bread a mile away. For those who know their need, God is immediate – not an idea, not a theory, but life, food, air for the stifled spirit and the beaten, despised, exploited body.
Rowan Williams, as quoted by Sara Miles, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
Here’s a slightly longer excerpt from another Rumi poem, ‘The Basket of Fresh Bread’ (published in The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing). Some of Rumi’s poetry, which I discovered only recently, resonates very deeply with me and reinforces my journey into silence and contemplation.
Don’t look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don’t milk others!
There is a fountain inside you.
Don’t walk around with an empty bucket.
You have a channel into the ocean,
yet you ask for water from a little pool.
There is a basket of fresh bread on your head,
yet you go door to door asking for crusts.
Knock on the inner door, no other.
Sloshing knee-deep in fresh riverwater,
yet you keep asking for other people’s waterbags.
Water is everywhere around you, but you see
only barriers that keep you from water.
Mad with thirst, you can’t drink from the stream
running close by your face. You are like a pearl
on the deep bottom wondering inside the shell,
Where’s the ocean?
Stay bewildered inside God,
and only that.
I love the imagery of nourishment and refreshment: water, milk and bread. Nothing spectacular, just staples, the stuff of everyday life, but essential. ‘Staying bewildered inside God’, that’s such an appropriate description of where I have been finding myself for some time now.