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Lions Roar : May 2017
By John DeMont RUMI’S SECRET The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love By Brad Gooch Harper, 2017; 377 pp., $28.99 (cloth) The bestselling poet in the United States isn’t Robert Frost or Walt Whit- man. It is Jalal ad-Din Muhammad, the thirteenth-century Persian Sufi mystic whom the modern world knows as Rumi. Like so many of us, Brad Gooch was smitten the moment he opened a volume of Rumi’s ecstatic poetry. The author of biographies of Flannery O’Connor and Frank O’Hara, Gooch learned Persian so that he could trans- late Rumi’s poems himself and he has retraced many of the travels of a life that spanned the Persian, Arab, Turkic and Mon- gol worlds. The result is a biography that is painstaking enough to withstand scholarly scrutiny without losing the compelling storyline: how the son of a Muslim scholar met the charismatic nomad Shams of Tabriz, who convinced him to pursue a life of love rather than knowledge. Gooch recounts how that seminal relationship led to the outpouring of thousands of poems that still dazzle us more than seven centuries after Rumi’s death. BEARING THE UNBEARABLE Love, Loss and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief By Joanne Cacciatore Wisdom Publications, 2017; 218 pp., $15.95 (paper) In today’s happiness-focused world, expressing the unbearable grief of los- ing a loved one may seem taboo, but disavowing your misery is the last thing a person should do. So writes Joanne Cacciatore, an expert on trauma and bereavement and a Zen priest who herself lost a child. If we wait too long to address the pain of grief, she says, it can “become toxic and poison our very souls.” In Bearing the Unbearable, Cac- ciatore argues that opening up to grief, as painful as it is, allows us to experience a greater sense of belonging, warmth, and love. Using real-life examples from her experience counselling suffer- ers of traumatic grief—and from her own journey after losing a baby daughter—she leads readers down a path of renewal. This book won’t help us bypass the pain of grief. Instead, it will give us “a safe place to feel, to be with our understandably broken heart,” and then, after confronting grief, to “reclaim our fully human wholeness.” LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 77