Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Friday, January 22 2021
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. Jeremiah 1:8
Rabi’a was an eighth-century female Sufi mystic who, after a losing her parents at an early age and being sold into slavery, was freed and committed herself to a life of closeness to God. What I appreciate about her story is the way that she was never revered because of her relationship with an important holy male, but instead was a sage in her own right—a unique status for eighth-century women.
One of her converts said of her, “I was with Rabia for one full day and night. We discussed the way and the truth in such a way that the thought ‘I am a man’ never crossed my mind, nor did ‘I am a woman’ ever cross hers. In the end when I arose, I considered myself a pauper and her devotee.” Her words were transformative.
The poem below, one of those masterful interfaith prayers accessible to Christians and Muslims alike, suggests that everyone else is occupied. No one is paying attention to the divine. She alone has tuned into the presence of God. Alone with God. God all to herself. An intimacy that speaks volumes.
O God beyond the glitter of stars, may we turn toward you alone. Amen.
[O my Lord], by Rabi’a
O my Lord,
the stars glitter
and the eyes of men are closed.
Kings have locked their doors
and each lover is alone with his love.
Here, I am alone with You.