Love in a well

This is a story attributed to the mystical Islamic poet Rumi.

Once upon a time, two neighbouring families decided to meet together for a feast. The first family arrived at the appointed courtyard and found they had arrived early. As they waited for the other guests, they remembered that their daughter (who had arrived at the marriageable age) spent most of the last feast gazing at the handsome son of the other family. Further they realised that this son would be attending the feast and it would not be prudent for the two young people to be in close proximity for too long. After some anxious thought, they had an idea. In the courtyard was a well and at the bottom of this well was a ledge where people would descend in times of drought to fill their buckets from the shallow water at the bottom of the well. Surely the young lady could be let down into the cool well so that she would be out of sight while the feast proceeded. The young lady was well brought up and obedient to her parents so she willingly climbed into the bucket and went down the well to wait until the end of the feast. When this was done the family went off to help in the kitchen and bring the food into the courtyard as it was prepared.

Shortly after they had left, the second family arrived and could see that others had arrived ahead of them. Then they remembered, that at the last feast their son had been completely smitten by the beautiful daughter; so they also decided that he must be sent away so that he would not spend all his time gazing at the young maiden. Where could he go? They also decided that he could be quietly sent down the well to wait until the feast was over. Again, like a well bred young man, he obeyed his parents and willingly climbed into the bucket and was wound down into the well.

Some hours later, when the feast had finished, the families gathered casually around the well, hoping to remove their children without causing embarrassment. Slowly, the truth came out, the young man and the young lady had just spent the feasting hours together down the well; out of sight and in the dark. When they were pulled back up out of the well, they were confused and surprised at the anxiety shown by their parents. Yes, they had enjoyed their time together; they had talked about their hopes and dreams and how they felt about many things BUT they had not so much as touched each other, or even held hands while they waiting patiently down the well.

What is the moral of this story? True love shows the deepest respect for the person who is loved. Or, true love is its own chaperone.

At a deeper level, the story teller said: one must give ones greatest love to God and seek to please God and then you will also enjoy true love with other people. Another story teller explained that you must first love God and then your neighbour as yourself.

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