Not the Way I Thought it Was


The Sufi Poet Rumi told the story of a scholar named Wasim. Wasim once chanced to hear a shepherd praying.  The shepherd’s prayer went something like this: “God, I wish I knew where you are, because I would like to polish your shoes and comb your hair for you.” 

“Who do you think you are talking to?” the wise Wasim asked.

“To God,” the shepherd said.

“Well,” said Wasim, “that is no way to talk to God. God doesn’t have shoes or hair, and it is silly to pray in that manner.”

The shepherd was greatly embarrassed to have been overheard by such a wise and learned man, so he slunk off the road and into the desert.

Wasim continued walking down the road until he heard the voice of God, saying, “Wasim, what do you think you’re doing? You just separated one of my children from me! What is wrong for one is good for another. What people DO in worship means nothing to me. Worship is for the worshiper, not for me. Some people are philosophers, some are lovers. It makes no difference to me.”

Wasim immediately ran after the shepherd, following his footprints through the sand.  When finally he found the shepherd, Wasim said, “I am so sorry. I was wrong in what I said. Your prayers are special to God.”

The shepherd stopped in his tracks and said, “No. Thank you for scolding me. Now I see. When we look into a mirror, we see ourselves, not the condition of the mirror. It is the flute player, not the flute that makes music.”

Wasim suddenly realized that when we finally do see through this veil we call reality, we will certainly say, “Huh! That’s not the way I thought it was.”


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