Leading Me to the Religion of Pluralism (by Meg Gatza)

Leading Me to the Religion of Pluralism (by Meg Gatza)

Meg GatzaLeading Me to the Religion of Pluralism (February 15, 2007)

» Meg tells her story (mp3, 2:43)

When I graduated from high school, my godfather gave me a copy of a Coleman Barks' translation of popular Rumi poems. I thanked him kindly, and promptly added the book to my bookshelf, and it remained untouched until I packed it up for college. It remained on my college bookshelf for a full semester, until my roommate borrowed it first. After hearing a few of her comments about Rumi's poems, I realized I needed to read a few myself. So, my first upstate New York springtime is laced with memories of reading Rumi at a spot on campus secluded in the woods overlooking the Hudson River and the traintracks running along its banks. Of course, suiting the time in which I was reading Rumi, his springtime poems struck me first. Through my sophomore year, Rumi guided me along a more intellectual route, as well as an erotic one. As I made a choice to study religion, Rumi's poems filled my papers for my classes on Islam, and for a final paper, I linked parts of Al Ghazzali's works, Rumi's poems, and the Qur'an to decipher an Islam that made sense to me. Now, I look to Rumi's truths about all religions. There is always something striking about the mystical poems of any religion, and while I've read bhakti poems and Rainer Maria Rilke's poems, and a number of others from mystical dimensions, Rumi's relation directly to the text of the Qur'an, and the passion the Qur'an and Islam and God can evoke within someoene continue to draw me nightly into a world of something more than simple spirituality. Rumi guided me to my real religion — that of pluralism. Meg Gatza Bel Air, MD (Listens to On Being Podcast)

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is professor of Persian & Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of several books, including Reading Mystical Lyric: The Case of Jalal aI-Din Rumi.