Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dhu'l-Nun's Instructive Madness

 Some friends of Dhu'l-Nun, the Egyptian,
go to see him. They have heard
that he has gone spectacularly insane,
that he is a wildfire no one can contain,
this man who has been such a source of wisdom.
They arrive at his house. He yells out,
Hey, you had better watch out,
coming here. Who are you?

Don't you remember us? We are your friends.
What secret are you hiding with this madness?

Dhu'l-nun begins to rave a mixture of filthy language
and gibberish. He rushes out and grabs up stones
and throws them at the group. They run.

See, he calls. You are not friends.
A friend does not run from pain
inflicted by a friend.

There is a joy within suffering
that is the kernel of friendship.
A friend is pure gold singing
inside the refining fire. He thrives on fights
and misunderstandings and even madness.