It’s been disheartening, this last week or so. But I think we get enough of the details other places, so let’s talk about crying out, howling, instead.
Regular readers know my penchant for dog-earing books, and maybe even that my most dogeared book is The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks. I love his description in the section titled “The Howling Necessity” where he talks about meeting his sufi teacher and the way that the teacher would “go into a wolf howl for a joke and a teaching” because of his name. Barks says, “Crying out loud is Rumi’s point. With that vulnerable breaking open in the psyche, the milk of grace starts to flow.”
Well. When you need help, cry out. Howl out. Don’t be quiet.
“Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.”
He goes on:
“Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.”
In the next poem he advises:
“Give your weakness
to one who helps.
Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.
A nursing mother, all she does
is wait to hear her child.”
Respond to every call
that excites your spirit.
Ignore those that make you fearful
and sad, that degrade you
back toward disease and death.”
Maybe this present moment has been designed for the howl. It has reminded us, as in the quotation below by Arundhati Roy, to never forget the unspeakable violence that goes on around us all the time, to never normalize it.
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
– Arundhati Roy
What would happen if we were all to react to “the vulgar disparity of life” around us by howling? Just step out our front doors and howl at 8 o’clock every evening? Maybe it would make a beautiful music.
"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."
– Leonard Bernstein
I started this post thinking about Rumi’s secret cup of pure sadness. Which as Henri Nouwen says, is also a cup of joy.
“We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.”
– Henri Nouwen
Let’s be angels for each other. Let’s also be howling wolves.