Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
~ Jalaluddin Rumi
In transmuting this poem into the lyric of a hymn (#188 in the UU hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition), one key phrase has been omitted. It is this “missing” concept upon which I wish to focus this morning.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
It is apparent that Rumi’s words intentionally welcome the stranger, regardless of their imperfection. I’d like to invite you to consider a meaning even broader than that:
What if we are welcoming both the friend and the stranger, regardless of our own imperfection.
Our vision statements are declarations of what we strive to be. That we often ourselves fall short of these ideals is almost the point. It is in the continual striving that we live into our covenant, with ourselves and with each other. It is in the implied acknowledgement of imperfection that we find our calling to remain ever vigilant in putting forth the effort to achieve, if not perfection, then at the very least our somewhat lofty professed ideals – justice, equality, freedom, peace…
This last week, just how woefully short we fall has been laid bare. We admit our failings, and we recommit our whole selves to finding and implementing solutions which draw us closer to creating systems which embody these ideals.
I am imperfect. You are imperfect. Our shared community is imperfect. Not only are we imperfect, we have broken our vows.
Acknowledging our imperfection is not enough – we must address the roots of our inadequacy, honestly face our failure to serve all those we have claimed to represent and that which we have claimed to support. And we need everyone tending the garden of this truth. Only then can we transform the fruit it bears.
Come, come, whoever you are – though we have broken our vows a thousand times, we still welcome you to become or to remain a part of our open-hearted, admittedly imperfect community which actively strives to live up to our promises. There is much work to be done…
Come, yet again, come.
This is wonderful. Thank you Christiana and the Words of Wisdom this week. Focusing on our faith and vision for a better world. Knowing that we often fail because we are not perfect. Diligently facing each success and failure as opportunities to make our world better.
I never thought of this as addressing strangers, but that when we sing it we are addressing each other. And often it is sung with the broken vows as a counterchant.