I preached a sermon for the first time in a long time last week, and it felt like a sermon not a talk. It was at St Edward’s, Cambridge, the broad question being how to follow your heart?
In part of my sermon I make something of this Sufi story:
Unjustly imprisoned, a tinsmith was allowed to receive a rug woven by his wife. He prostrated himself upon the rug day after day to say his prayers, and after some time he said to his jailers:
“I am poor and without hope, and you are wretchedly paid. But I am a tinsmith. Bring me tin and tools and I shall make small artifacts which you can sell in the market, and we shall both benefit.”
The guards agreed to this, and presently the tinsmith and they were both making a profit, from which they bough food and comforts for themselves.
Then, one day, when the guards went to the cell, the door was open, and he was gone.
Many years later, when this man’s innocence had been established, the man who had imprisoned him asked him how he had escaped, what magic he had used. He said:
“It’s a matter of design, and design within design. My wife is a weaver. She found the man who had made the locks of the cell door, and got the design from him. This she wove into the carpet, at the spot where my head touched in prayer five times a day. I am a metal-worker, and this design looked to me like the inside of a lock. I designed the plan of the artifacts to obtain the materials to make the key – and I escaped.”
‘That,’ said the Sufi, ‘is one of the ways in which man may make his escape from the tyranny of his captivity.’