The Sunrise Ruby
In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.
She asks, Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.
He says, There is nothing left of me.
I am like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight. The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don't think about getting off from work.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who's there.
So. What is "the work"? Somehow (apologies to non-American friends who don't follow our political soap operas) I don't think it's trashing and bashing Martha Coakley for being an idiot or Scott Brown for being the male version of Sarah Palin or John Edwards for being a slimy bastard, or any other number of my responses to the frustrations of the last week. Maybe Haiti has brought out the work in a lot of us. But I think that work is far away - as good as it is and present in my heart - and still not what Rumi is talking about. How to bring it closer to home? When he talks about lovers, is he talking about sexual love? I don't think so, even though that's the language he uses. You have to get even closer than that intimacy. He's talking about quarrying out divine love inside, through the rock of the ego. When I manage to dig, listen, knock, and see the joy look out, that's when I stop seeing the difference between me and someone else, when I stop saying in my head, "Oh I would so not have done what you just did." I can think I am so much better than a lot of people. But when I stop saying and feeling that, tension and exhaustion just disappear - becoming one, like the physical act of lovers, but on the inside.
This digging isn't for sainthood. It's not applying for doormat status. It's not la·di·da·ing oblivious to evil and stupidity. I think it's realizing that I am capable of everything I see behaved by humans - from the top of the chain to the bottom - as the parade goes by. Not seeing someone else as the other. That's the work. If it weren't hard, we'd all be there. But when you see joy look out to see who's there, it's ecstasy, and worth digging for again.