Sunday, May 03, 2009

Rumi's Reminder

Listiening to a Speaking of Faith podcast on Rumi, the following story was told:

There is a statement in the Quran that goes something like this: "I have given you the reminder, and I will protect it." Spoken by God, this statement is routinely applied to the Quran itself. God has given us the Quran, and He will protect the Quran. One day, Rumi was sitting with his students/friends, and he recited this standard interpretation of the Quran statement. Then he said, while that is all well and good, there is another way to understand the phrase. The Reminder in Rumi's version is the desire to know God. 

In Rumi's thinking apparently, there is no Original Sin, but rather a humanity that forgets who they and God are. Rumi's explanation of this Quranic passage addresses that theological point by tying together our forgetfulness, and God's implanting in us a drive, an urge that He will ensure remains, to remember.

Hebrew Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God, and Orthodox theology tells us that we are indeed made in that image, that character, and that our journey is to develop that image into the very likeness of God. That image results in there being something inside us, however small and unintelligble, that drives us to find God. Thomas Merton has said that we are on a journey "to a place we've never been."

Rumi would remind us - and he is correct in this - that God has placed in us the reminder, and we long to remember.

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