Last night I was reading the introduction to Helen Luke’s book “The Way of Woman”. The introduction was written by an associate of Luke’s – Barbara Adams Mowar. Mowar wrote about a story in Rumi’s Discources – a story that Helen Luke (in the last months of her life) had said spoke eloquently about the spiritual needs of our world today.
“A caravan of men and camels crossed a desert and reached a place where they expected to find water. Instead they found only a hole going deep into the earth. They lowered bucket after bucket into the hole, but the rope each time came back empty — no bucket and no water. They then began to lower men into the hole, but the men, too, disappeared off the end of the rope. Finally a wise man among the party volunteered to go down into the hole in search of water.
When the wise man reached the bottom of the hole, he found himself face to face with a horrible monster. The wise man thought to himself, ‘I can’t hope to escape from this place, but I can at least remain aware of everything I am experiencing.’ The monster said to him, ‘I will let you go only if you answer my question.’ He answered, ‘Ask your question.’
The monster said, ‘Where is the best place to be?’
The wise man thought to himself, ‘I don’t want to hurt his feelings. If I name some beautiful city, he may think I’m disparaging his hometown. Or maybe this hole is the place he thinks is best.’ So to the monster he said, ‘The best place to be is wherever you feel at home — even if it’s a hole in the ground.’
The monster said, ‘You are so wise that I will not only let you go, but I will also free the foolish men who came down before you. And I will release the water in this well.'”
I immediately loved the story although I wanted so much more of an answer. I want to know how to recognize where I feel at home. As Mowar discussed the story, she (and evidently Helen Luke before she died) concentrated on the choice of the hero to descend and to remain fully aware. Mowar and Helen Luke were focusing on our need to face the great darkness, within and without, with courage, courtesy and respect. While these issues are undoubtably important, I was left feeling that the most challenging part of the story for me – the issue of “home” was completely overlooked.
I plan to return to this issue and circle around it again and perhaps again as I continue this journal.