On A White Van


I feel sick and tired today as I am writing this. A young man rents a van and drives down a busy downtown street, killing 10 people and injuring 15 others. There are no words to describe the horror of that act. Ten families will soon start planning funerals. Ten people who had dreams, plans and felt the warmth of the spring sun on their backs are dead.

And so in my despair and sorrow, I turn to one of my favourite poets for comfort – Rumi, a Sufi philosopher and wisdom teacher from the 13th Century. Rumi’s place in the history of religions is as a bridge between faith communities. The story of his funeral in 1273 is well known. Representatives came from every religion – Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus. When questioned about this, they responded, “He deepens us wherever we are.” Rumi lives in the heart, exploring the mystery of life in our fractured, often broken world. And since all of us need comfort, no matter who we name as our God, it is good to read some of his words.

Rumi reminds us of the beauty of nature to uplift us in times of trouble:

From now on the nightingales will sing of us sitting here outdoors,
Where wind lifts the hair of the willow and starts her dancing.
God knows what they say to each other then.

Or in the midst of our anger and despair, Rumi asks the questions we are longing to have answered:

Who turns bitterness to love?
Who changes the poisonous snake around your neck to pearls?
Who pulls the thorn from your palm
And puts a pillow of roses under your head?
I send my love out now to ride the sunlight.

And so, it comes back to love, trying to find traction in an often painful, hurtful world. Rumi reminds me that rather than giving in to despair and hatred, I will try to send my love out now to ride the sunlight.

Blessings, Linda