Rumi was a 13th century Sufi mystic, poet, and saint. Thanks largely to the versions of Rumi that have come to us through the heart and pen of Coleman Barks, Rumi is the best selling poet in America -- and has been for a number of years now. Two books that are together a perfect introduction to Rumi are The Illuminated Rumi by Coleman Barks and Michael Green; and One Song by Michael Green. With out-of-this-world art, text, and commentary they would serve you well as both introduction and life-long source books.
Something about Rumi captures hearts and imaginations. Somehow, after reading Rumi, we begin to believe it possible for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity to live in mutual respect, peace, and even reverence. Somehow, after reading Rumi, we begin to believe that the Holy One just might be our Beloved Friend -- not a "God" of power and domination who is all about testing, controlling, and judging. Truthfully, unless one is hoping for an "inside job" working for "God" testing, controlling, and judging either one's neighbors or enemies, who in their right mind would want to believe and submit to such a being? Rumi frees us from our dominators! Glorious freedom to dive into the Mystery of Love! Now we can talk about something other than "religion"!
I believe Rumi to be profoundly relevant to both our world and our personal life situations. I also believe that he is yet alive in Love -- and along the way, he left orthodoxy like a tattered coat on a sidewalk somewhere... a good place for us to leave it too, whatever "version" we might have been wearing... the Holy One has something really sweet in Her mind for us!
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.