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26

WEDNESDAY

Poet and translator Coleman Barks told Yoga Journal last fall that the popularity of 13th-century Persian mystic Rumi, in a 21st-century America otherwise suspicious of things Middle Eastern, is “not a fad. It’s filling a need in the Western psyche that craves nourishment.” He continues, “Most of the ecstasies were expunged from the New Testament. This has created a longing in Christian and Western cultures for ecstatic vision.” It doesn’t hurt that Barks’ translations are highly accessible to English-speaking readers. A favorite passage: “We have fallen into the place/where everything is music./The strumming and the flute notes/rise into the atmosphere,/and even if the whole world’s harp/should burn up, there will still be/hidden instruments playing.” “Rumi and the Play of Poetry: A Spiritually Evocative Evening with a Persian Mystic” offers Barks’ readings of Rumi’s work, accompanied by Glen Velez on hand drum and “overtone singing” and Eugene Friesen on cello. Go into the mystic at 6:15 p.m. at Washington National Cathedral, Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenues NW. $25. (800) 937-8728. (Pamela Murray Winters)