Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi, the 13th century Sufi ecstatic Persian poet has touched the lives of many people.  By the time he was thirty, he had over ten thousand students and the ears of kings.  I read his poetry when I was twenty, and I thought it was cool.  I read his poetry when I was forty and I thought he was deep.  I read his poetry this Spring, and since then I cannot read a single poem without being inspired to write one myself.  It is obvious that I am now ready for Rumi.

 

Tina Petrova, the Toronto film producer, had to drive over a cliff in a potentially deadly accident in order for her to be ready for Rumi.  Fortunately for us she survived and bounced back with an indomitable spirit partly because she had carried it all her life, and partly because it was re-lit by Rumi's ecstatic poetry.  On September 27 she launched the first screening of her new film, Rumi - Turning Ecstatic, at the Theatre D Digital in Toronto.

 

As a Film Premiere, the evening reached Gala proportions.  We heard Rumi's poetry recited in the original Persian tongue; we saw a feast for the eyes in the whirling dancing of a Toronto-based Sufi dancer; and then came the film.  It had an eerie beginning when Tina picked up a female hitchhiker in the Mojave Desert, and after a few miles she asked to be dropped off, saying, "Don't drive over the cliff."  A few minutes later the road turned abruptly, Tina's car skidded, she lost control - and drove over the cliff. 

 

The film documents her recovery as she meets American followers of Rumi's Mevlevy school of Sufi practice.  Ecstasy, for Rumi, was a way to God.  With each meeting with poets, musicians, dancers, architects, and philosophers, Tina came closer and closer to ecstasy - and recovery.  The film is a revelation of how a poet, distant in time and place, can be relevant both to those who follow his teachings, and to those who simply appreciate them.

 

At the end of the screening, Tina introduced both the Vision TV representative who had commissioned the film, and Shaikh Kabir Helminski, the Western representative of the Mevlevi Order of Sufism.  The three of them fielded questions from the Audience.  I rose to ask Helminski the following question:  "Rumi said, 'When one of those generous ones

invites you into his fire, go quickly.'  Who was the generous one who invited you into his fire?"  Helminski then told the audience of how he met his master and paid him tribute.  Please look for Tina Petrova' film, Rumi - Turning Ecstatic, on Vision TV in the New Year.