(1207 - 1273)

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Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying:
‘God, where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes
and comb your hair. I want to wash your clothes
and pick the lice off. I want to bring you milk
to kiss your little hands and feet when it’s time
for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and goats
are yours. All I can say, remembering you,
is ayyyy and ahhhhhhhhh.’

Moses could stand it no longer.
‘Who are you talking to? -
the one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky.
Don’t talk about shoes and socks with God!
And what’s this with your little hands and feet?
Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you’re chatting with your uncles.
Only something that grows
needs milk. Only someone with feet needs shoes.
Not God…!
Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man Fatima,
it’s an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the origin, not for Allah.’
The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.

A sudden revelation
came then to Moses. God’s voice:
You have separated me
from one of my own. Did you come as a Prophet
to unite, or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way of seeing
and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for them.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else….
I don’t hear the words they say.
I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
Be friends with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!
Moses, those who pay attention to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn are another….
Don’t scold the Lover.
The ‘wrong’ way he talks is better than a hundred
‘right’ ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba it doesn’t matter
which direction you point your prayer rug…!
The love religion has no code or doctrine.
Only God.

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.