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One of my favorite poets is Hafiz, a Sufi Master who lived 1320-1389. His work is inspiring, heart-opening, heart-rending and delightful. There is a wonderful collection entitled The Gift, which contains many poems I dearly love.
One of my favorites is the one I’m sharing with you today. When I first read it, I wept and wept and wept. I have wept while reading it many times as I feel myself in the slave’s experience. Let me know what you feel.
Bring the man to me
A Perfect One was traveling through the desert.
He was stretched out around the fire one night
And said to one of his close ones,
“There is a slave loose not far from us.
He escaped today from a cruel master.
His hands are still bound behind his back,
His feet are also shackled.
I can see him right now praying for God’s help.
Go to him.
Ride to that distant hill;
And about a hundred feet up and to the right
You will find a small cave.
He is there.
Do not say a single word to him.
Bring the man to me.
God requests that I personally untie his body
And press my lips to his wounds.”
The disciple mounts his horse and within two hours
Arrives at the small mountain cave.
The slave sees him coming, the slave looks frightened.
The disciple, on orders not to speak,
Gestures toward the sky, pantomining:
God saw you in prayer,
Please come with me,
A great Teacher has used his heart’s divine eye
To know your whereabouts.
The slave cannot believe this story,
And begins to shout at the man and tries to run
But trips from his bindings.
The disciple becomes forced to subdue him.
Think of this picture as they now travel:
The million candles in the sky are lit and singing.
Every particle of existence is a dancing altar
That some mysterious force worships.
The earth is a church floor whereupon
In the middle of a glorious night
Walks a slave, weeping, tied to a rope behind a horse,
With a speechless rider
Taking him toward the unknown.
Several times with all of his might the slave
Tries to break free,
Feeling he is being returned to captivity.
The rider stops, dismounts – and brings his eyes
Near the prisoner’s eyes.
A deep kindness there communicates an unbelievable hope.
The rider motions – soon, soon you will be free.
Tears roll down from the rider’s cheeks
In happiness for this man.
Anger, all this fighting and tormenting want,
God has seen you and sent a close one.
God has seen your heart in prayer
And sent me.