recently, as i sat at my meditation altar, i drew a card from a deck of quotations by the great persian poet, jalal ad-din muhammad rumi (1207-1273).
before death takes what has been given to you, you must give away everything you can give.
i sat in the stillness of early morning, with the cry of seagulls awakening the sky, each line finding a place in my heart.
“before death takes....” will death take or give? certainly she will take what we know now to be ‘i’, and the life we are currently living. she will take this consciousness, the one we know now. will she give something in return? what could that be? or is this all there is?
“...what has been given to you,...” much has been given. while living many years is certainly not always easy, or pleasant, or smooth, it can be full of deep values, rewarding relationships of all kinds, love, joy and spirit. the process of a life well-lived demands a great deal of effort. and yet, in retrospect, it all flows from one present moment to the next, given to us.
“...you must give away...” spread the wealth! give it away! how can we give the essence of what we cherish, the love and the connection to spirit? by being love, by being the values we hold dear, by being that connection as best we can. it is in being that we can exemplify all that is important to us. we can aspire to be honest, loving, kind, courageous in all we do. sometimes we succeed; sometimes we don’t. it is in the effort of giving away that we find peace.
“...everything you can give.” rumi doesn’t tell us to give everything away. only to give what we can give, what we are able to give at any moment. there are times when we are less able to give, when we need to hold ourselves close. there are times when we can give none of ourselves. there are times when we overflow with the gifts we have been given and it is easy to give them away.
this could also be understood as rumi's idea of downsizing!