Some time ago there was a man named Nasuh
He made his living shampooing women in a bathhouse
He had a face like a woman, but he was not effeminate,
though he disguised his virility, so as to keep his job,
He loved touching the women as he washed their hair
He stayed sexually alert at full strength,
all the time, massaging the beautiful women,
especially the Princess and her ladies-in-waiting.
Sometimes he thought of changing jobs,
of doing something
where he couldn’t be so constantly lustful,
but he couldn’t quit.
He went to a mystic saint and said,
“Please remember me in a prayer.”
That holy man was spiritually free,
and totally opened to God. He knew Nasuh’s secret,
but with God’s gentleness he didn’t speak of it.
A gnostic says little, but inside he is full of mysteries,
and crowded with voices. Whoever is served that cup keeps quiet.
The holy man laughed softly and prayed aloud,
“May God cause you to change your life
in the way you know you should.”
The prayer of such a sheikh (old man) is different
from other prayers. He has so completely dissolved
his ego, nothinged himself, that what he says
is like God talking to God. How could
such a prayer not be granted?
The means were found to change Nasuh.
While he was pouring water into a basin
for a naked woman, she felt and discovered
that a pearl was missing from her earring.
Quickly, they locked the doors
They searched the cushions, the towels, the rugs,
and the discarded clothes. Nothing.
Now they search ears and mouths and every cleft and orifice.
Everyone is made to strip,
and the queen’s lady chamberlain
probes one by one
the naked women
Nasuh, meanwhile, has gone to his private closet, trembling.
“I didn’t steal the pearl,
but if they undress and search me,
they’ll see how excited I get
with these nude ladies.
God, please, help me!
I have been cold and lecherous,
but cover my sin this time, PLEASE!
Let me not be exposed for how I’ve been.
He weeps and moans and weeps,
for the moment is upon him.
“Nasuh! We have searched everyone but you. Come out!”
At that moment, his spirit grows wings, and lifts.
His ego falls like a battered wall.
He unites with God, alive,
but emptied of Nasuh.
His ship sinks and in its place move the ocean waves.
His body’s disgrace, like a falcon’s loosened binding,
slips from the falcon’s foot.
His stones drink in water.
His field shines like satin with gold threads in it.
Someone dead a hundred years steps out well
and strong and handsome. A broken stick breaks into bud.
This all happens inside Nasuh,
after the call that gave him such fear.
A long pause.
A long, waiting silence.
Then a should from one of the women, “Here it is!”
The bathhouse fills with clapping.
Nasuh sees his new life sparkling out before him.
The women came to apologize, “We’re so sorry we didn’t trust you.
We just knew that you’d taken that pearl.”
They kept talking about how they’d suspected him,
and begging his forgiveness.
Finally, he replies,
“I am much more guilty than anyone has thought or said.
I am the worst person in the world.
What you have said is only a hundredth of what I’ve actually done.
Don’t ask my pardon!
You don’t know me. No one knows me.
God has hidden my sneakinesss. Satan taught me tricks,
but after a time, those became easy, and I taught Satan
some new variations. God saw what I did, but chose not to
publicly reveal my sin.
And now, I am sewn back into wholeness
Whatever I’ve done, now was not done
Whatever obedience I didin’t do, now I did!
PURE, NOBLE, FREE LIKE CYPRESS, LIKE A LILY
IS HOW I SUDDENLY AM.
I said, Oh no! Help me!
And that “Oh no!” became a rope
let down in my well. I’ve climbed out to stand here
in the sun. One moment I was at the bottom
of a dank fearful narrowness, and the next,
I am not contained by this universe.
If every tip of every hair on me could speak,
I still couldn’t say my gratitude.
In the middle of these streets and gardens, I stand and say
and say again, and it’s all I say,
I wish everyone could know what I know.”
(The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)