September 11: National Day of Service and Remembrance

Rumi Goes To Washington

He couldn’t find a place to tie his camel when a quiet man in a uniform took the reins and showed him inside. He sat for the longest time on a sofa staring at the enormous chandelier. So many jewels, he thought, each like a soul God has placed on Earth and scattered. He felt the chandelier was a message, saying without saying, “When you can come together like this, your love will conquer gravity and you will hover like this enormous, glittering light.” Just then, a pretty young woman asked if he wanted to register. He wasn’t sure what that meant but he went along. In the days that followed, he kept seeing the many jewels scattered.

Then others came and brought him to meetings where he listened to men and women carve up the resources of their great nation. And beneath the noise of their benevolence, he could see inside their chests, where each carried a light that was throbbing below their proposals. When it as his turn, he whirled around the room, touching each Jewel’s heart. Then he sat and stared at his hand. Finally, the leader of the group leaned over and gently asked, “What does this mean?” Instead of talking, he took the leader’s hand and put it on his heart. Well, meeting was no longer a meeting, and some wanted to get closer, while others wanted to run. He was driven back to the hotel where he spent the afternoon listening to the chandelier.

Poem excerpted from “Reduced to Joy” by Mark Nepo (

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