I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?
Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.
Really, how can such great love be inside such a small thing as a tiny kitten? And yet the potential for a lifetime of love is there inside every kitten and every animal that shares its life with humans.
And it is for each of us as well, small and insignificant as we may seem sometimes, that a love larger than ourselves can be held in our hearts, and our small and fragile eyes, both our physical eyes and our inner intuitive eyes, can see enormous things around us.
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April is National Poetry Month in the United States, an event that I’m sure barely alters the daily life of most, but if you are so inclined it is a time to seek out poetry if you don’t already do so, indulge in reading and possibly even writing a few lines for yourself. What is poetry? Sometimes just your random thoughts at some common object or a memory from far in your past, a collection of words that captures the essence of that thing that occupies your mind for a moment, words that help explain that essence to you and can share that essence with others. Some poetry rhymes, some is arranged into lines, but in whatever structure the words have a rhythm that our human mind finds familiar and trustworthy.
I read poetry all the time, and lately I’ve been writing nearly one poem each day, certainly recording thoughts that will turn into poems sooner or later. I feel more connected with both my inner and outer life when I can record my experiences in this way. In a poem, things that don’t contribute to conveying the essence of your thought are discarded, every word, space, line break, wisp of punctuation, style and formatting of line has meaning and contributes to refining the whole, no matter how brief or lengthy. It’s an excellent metaphor for examining our own lives and motivations, and an excellent way to discover who we really are and how we feel about decisions, events, humans in the world around us without the rules of sentences and paragraphs and capitalization, just put the words down and make them work.
I’ve also been in a creative frenzy lately as happens each spring for me, suddenly creating new art on a moment’s notice, scraps of paper all over the house have brief lines and thoughts, singing, dancing around my cats, and running here or there to grab a book to find something familiar or something new that just isn’t sufficed by the internet. The other day I listened to a program where I heard this poem by Rumi and remembered it from years before and how it touched me, could not remember the text exactly and ended up lying across my bed with books of Rumi’s poems and other poetry anthologies all around me pulled from the bookshelf in the corner. My cats love my creative fugues and all of them ran up the steps with me and leaped on the bed, anticipating, when I headed for that bookshelf, knowing exactly where my copy of The Essential Rumi could be found, savoring the idea of getting lost in the verses on my way to this one. As I read all five of my cats wandered around me, purring, approving, then happily settled down in a purring line next to me, curling in their quotes and commas of relaxation as I flipped through the pages of books. I found this poem and remembered recently, looking at photos from earlier times and a photo of a black kitten so tiny he still had his baby blue eyes looking at me full of love and trust, and in that circular way that Rumi leads me I knew that I was intended to put the two thoughts together. We are always searching for the beloved. Sometimes the beloved comes in the form of a kitten. Please download and share!
Rumi’s poems don’t really have names, but translators and anthologists have given them names; this poem is sometimes called This Great Love.
You may see “Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī” or “Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi” or “Jelaluddin Rumi” or hear him referred to as “the mystic poet”, but though his writing seems to be modern free verse, the author was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist and theologian, living from 1207 to 1273, famous even in his own time for his writing, his decisions, and his practice and teaching as a Sufi mystic. The poems are written in Persian but their words transcend time and place and are read by people all over the world. The interpreter with whom I am most familiar is Coleman Barks, and I love to listen to him read what he’s found in Rumi’s writings in his soft Georgia accent. I’d reference a site somewhere on the internet but I don’t have one I prefer. Just search Rumi and you’ll find plenty.
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I’m off to a local all-day women’s writing conference today, so I’m thinking a lot about writing today!
Read poems inspired by my cats and by observing my backyard wildlife habitat, and listen to those I’ve recorded, and read about my poetry.
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Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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