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Rumi on Language: “A longing for home”

Child at ceremony in Ikorodu, Nigeria. Photo by Oshomah Abubakar on Unsplash

Child at ceremony in Ikorodu, Nigeria. Photo by Oshomah Abubakar on Unsplash

 

“Words are not important in themselves, but as resonators for a center. […] All language is a longing for home.” — Coleman Barks in The Essential Rumi (pg. 17)

If all language is a longing for home, and we speak English in a sea of Finnish, we will always associate home with another time, another place and another people. We will always see ourselves as other.

And guess what? As much as we might feel foreign, we have a lot more in common with the people around us than we may believe. We are human. We need not shroud ourselves in the pain of separateness.

Once we acknowledge it’s not the spoken words that matter, but our longing for home, then our human-ness becomes the central point for all we do. Learning a language is a deeply humbling process. It forces a surrender into the unknown, one which requires faith in the face of complete unknown. The ego cannot come through it unscathed. This surrender gives rise to compassion and unity.

Softening into a place of compassion dissolves criticism of self and others, and from this vantage point, we’re able to shift our perception with more agility than ever before. We realize that although poor translations exist, the overall picture is very similar. What we all want is similar too: love, joy, peace, to understand, contribute and connect. To feel heard and seen, to know we are enough.

When I speak the words in which you long for home, I meet you on the path. Together we can walk a little further, my friend.

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