Featured Poem: The Quest by Rumi

This week’s Featured Poem is ‘The Quest’ by Rumi, chosen by The Reader’s Learning and Quality Leader, Chris Lynn.

This week we get to spend time with Rumi’s ‘The Quest’ which has an ancient air about it. I can almost smell a musky frankincense when reading it.

Even though you’re not equipped,
Keep searching:

I don’t think I ever feel fully equipped. Feeling equipped, complete or whole may well continue to elude us! Is this the feeling of being out of our depth or an imposter? Or, do we hesitate because we don’t feel equipped? Is this a way we procrastinate or persuade ourselves – ‘I’m not ready yet!’. Keep searching.

Equipment isn’t necessary on the way to the Sustainer.

We’re being offered something different to the material tools of the world here. The ‘Sustainer’ feels vast. This is a different kind of journey. I’ll follow Jane’s lead here and think about personal translations of religious thinking – that which sustains us. What, or who sustains us? Why is equipment unnecessary?

Whoever you see engaged in search,
Become her friend and cast your head in front of her,

We have ‘search’ again. There’s something here about not knowing or not being able to see exactly what is being searched for. Again we’re in a space of presence and reaching. Alongside that, there is fellowship, neighbourliness, mentorship. ‘Cast’ is interesting here. It makes me think of casting a net, ‘cast your head in front of her’s’ – how does that phrase work? It conjures the patience we must have when fishing for example… There is so much in there, how are you reading that line? 

The language is of continual becoming and signals a movement inward – ‘you become one yourself’ – a fellow seeker. The seeker of what do we think? There is a certainty here that we can test against ourselves and our own experience, does it feel true to us? A wise word to humble us and shows us how far we have come on The Quest:

Everything you possess of skill, and wealth, and handicraft,
Wasn’t it first merely a thought and a quest?


The Quest

Even though you’re not equipped,
Keep searching:
Equipment isn’t necessary on the way to the Sustainer.
Whoever you see engaged in search,
Become her friend and cast your head in front of her,
For choosing to be a neighbour of seekers,
You become one yourself;
Protected by conquerors,
You will, yourself, learn to conquer.
If an ant seeks the rank of Solomon,
Don’t smile contemptuously upon its quest.
Everything you possess of skill, and wealth, and handicraft,
Wasn’t it first merely a thought and a quest?

by Rumi

Would you like the opportunity to read this or other poems in a Shared Reading group?

If you like the idea of listening along to a story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?

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