I woke up in the middle of the night and suddenly found myself wandering through the streets of Cortona, a medieval town in the Tuscany region of Italy. Although I went there for a specific reason, I could not recall exactly what it was. My memory was vague, but my thinking was clear. My ears were blocked, but my hearing was perfect. I could hear the sound of the moon, the stars, and even my heart perfectly. My eyes felt blindfolded, yet my sight was sharp, as if I could see beyond the stars. With this bizarre feeling, I let my feet lead my way and walked for a while in the darkness of the night. I then suddenly heard two men talking as they stood at the fork in the road. One seemed to be confused and was asking the other person something.
“Which way should I go?” he asked.
“The way that God wants you to go,” the other man replied.
“And which way is that?”
“We will know from a sign. Start to spin around and around, just like children do, until I tell you to stop.”
The other one looked puzzled, but he obeyed and started to twirl until he fell down out of giddiness. He got back up and continued to twirl, though, repeatedly falling to the ground for some time. Finally, he seemed to have spent all his energy on his twirling when he finally heard some welcome words:
“Stop and tell me whither your face is turned, and that’s the way we should go, my friend. This twirling is within and toward the real you, to your inner self and through the outer you. You can only find the right path once you turn your face to God, and just then, you will return to God.”
I could not see their faces in the dark, but I could feel the light in their hearts. All these words felt familiar, and they took me somewhere I knew very well. I looked around and realized that I was now in Konya, a city in the mid-Anatolian part of Turkey, the city where Rumi lived. It is a place where you can feel pure divine love, a place where you can pass through the gates of unity, regardless of who you are or what your religion is. It is the house of the desperate, the sinner, and the worshiper. It is the place where you really belong, the heart of the lover.
I was standing in the garden of the Shrine of Rumi, and those two men were there again. I recognized one of them as St. Francis of Assisi, but the other one had his back to me. I was shocked and mesmerized but somehow felt very light and safe. His eyes were very calming and full of understanding. I then found the courage to ask something:
“I know who you are, but what on earth are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in Italy? How can you be in Konya, at the Shrine of Rumi? And you told the other man to twirl, just as Rumi did hundreds of years ago.”
“Look, my friend,” he said. “I am who you think I am. I am St. Francis of Assisi—I am Rumi of Konya. I am everybody, and I am nobody. I am here, yet I am not. I am from both the past and the future. I am who you think I am, and I am where you think I should be. I live in Rumi, and he lives in me. Do you think we are separate? Do you think you are any different than me? I am the Rumi in you, and you are the St. Francis in me. We are all One—we all come from One. Regardless of your religion, beliefs, ethnicity, and whatever else, come, come whoever you are.”
“But, these are Rumi’s words”, I remarked. “How come you know them all? He lived after you, in a country thousands of miles away! There is no way that you can repeat his words? Who are you? Where are you from?”
I was somewhere between wakefulness and sleep, yet I was fully conscience and could see and hear clearly. I stepped closer to the man who was talking to me. I was a few steps away from both men now, and the other man was still standing with his back to me. Then they both started to whirl, and a very bright light spread from their hearts into mine. I couldn’t’ feel my body, but I could feel the universe, as if I did not exist but the universe existed in me. I could not see now because my eyes were dazzled by this divine light. I tried to make out their faces but could not manage it. I then realized I was looking in the wrong direction with the wrong sense, so I closed my eyes and gazed into their hearts with my own heart.
I then finally saw who they were. The man who had talked to me was Rumi, while the man who had earlier had his back to me was none other but me.