It is December 17, the date Rumi lovers call his wedding night, for it is when he went to join the Beloved, the day he died in Konya, forever ending the agony of separateness:
A craftsman pulled a reed from the reedbed,
cut holes in it, and called it a human being.
Since then, it has been wailing
a tender agony of parting,
never mentioning the skill
that gave it life as a flute.
The earth is frozen around me, feeling as if Life has gone. But Rumi's call is always to that inner heat that brings spring to the spirit.
Outside, the freezing desert night.
This other night inside grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.
The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.
The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is there's no news at all.
* * *
This is the day and the year of the rose.
The whole garden is opening with laughter.
Iris whispering to cypress.
The rose is the joy of meeting someone.
The rose is a world imagination cannot imagine.
A messenger from the orchard where the soul lives.
A small seed that points to a great rose tree.
Hold its hand and walk like a child.
A rose is what grows from the work the prophets do.
Full moon, new moon.
Accept the invitation spring extends,
four birds flying toward a master.
A rose is all these,
and the silence that closes and sits in the shade, a bud.
My worst habit is I get so tired of winter
I become a torture to those I'm with.
If you are not here, nothing grows.
I lack clarity. My words
tangle and knot up.
How to cure bad water? Send it back to the river.
How to cure bad habits? Send me back to you.
When water gets caught in habitual whirlpools,
dig a way out through the bottom
to the ocean. There is a secret medicine
given only to those who hurt so hard
they can't hope.
The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.
Look as long as you can at the friend you love,
no matter whether that friend is moving away from you
or coming back toward you.
Another year closes, just one of our inept categories, like insufficient words to express the mystery we follow. Truly, every next moment begins a new year. Go back to the river. Start flowing again.
Maybe this is one reason I love winter: It feels like a clean page.
— all Rumi translated by Coleman Barks