A few years back, it was with reverence and honor that I named my two new cats after two of my favorite poets, Rumi and Mary Oliver.
Oliver was an adorable, loving, spunky and talkative little guy. He lived life full on, and then in one of the most heartbreaking animal moments of my life, I watched him die with Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It is a horrible disease, that quickly put an end to this poet kitten’s life at only 7 months of age.
I adopted Rumi’s sister, who went through a serious of names, before i decided on Coco, partially for her color, and also to give her a bit of Coco Chanel elegance..a name she does not live up to. :) They were later joined by Kylie, a feisty girl who rules the house.
But this is about Rumi, for years he has lived up to his namesake in extraordinary ways. I seem to be the only one who notices, but then he is devoted to me…I seem to be the version of the Divine Beloved that he is most enamored with. He flops at my feet, looks up at me with eyes filled with adoration and praise. Perhaps, it is only for pets or the promise of breakfast, but it is real worship to me.
And most mornings beginning at about 3 am, he sings praises to Allah, to God, to the Divine Beloved behind the bedroom door. This morning it was particularly loud and mournful, accompanied by many prostrations on the floor, which led to great banging on the door, he wanted to be heard, to be clear, “I am devoted”, “Allah, Allah, I am here!!
I must admit that I was initially not able to access the Divine within and appreciate this devotion…I tried baptism by spray bottle, acknowledging his presence with kind and not so kind words; but he is a devoted one, and the songs of praise continued.
At one point, I found myself yelling out “Rumi, Rumi, I know you are here.” and then I shifted into imagining the great Persian poet crying out to Allah…this brought a momentary sense of peace, followed by the thought that I really just want to sleep, and that devotion is so much better after I am awake. I get up at 4:30, anyway, is that too long to wait?
I must have drifted to sleep though, because I woke a bit later to a moment of silence before the lamentations began again. This was the poem that came to my mind in that moment-
One night a man was crying Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with praising,
until a cynic said, “So!
I’ve heard you calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”
The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?” “Because
I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing you express
is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.
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.
Ah yes, this is it….my Rumi’s version is of course, Love Cats. “Listen to the moan of the cat for its master. That whining is the connection. There are love cats no one knows the names of. Give your life to be one of them.”
There is indeed a lesson in everything. Unfortunately, this poem seems to be in support of early morning praising, but the adoration wasn’t going to stop anyway, so like most things in life, a little reframing is often just what is needed to go on.
As I write this, the devoted one is purring loudly in my ear, about to curl up for a long days nap, feeling content that his adoration has been heard.