Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Leigh Hunt talks about Abou Ben Adhem and shows how love and compassion for fellow human beings is a greater and quicker way to be in the grace of God. Leigh starts off by talking of Abou Ben Adhem who awoke from his peaceful sleep one night. Abou saw within the moonlight entering his room which was making his room rich and like a lily flower blooming he saw an Angel who was writing in a book of gold.
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room, he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
The poem continues with Abou reacting in a calm and bold manner. Under normal circumstances, any individual would have been startled but not Abou. Being religious and peaceful, he wasn’t afraid of the Angel. Instead, he questioned the Angel as to what the Angel was writing in the book made of gold. The Angel raised its head and answered to him that the Angel was writing all the names of those who love God.
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
Abou, curious, asked the Angel if his name was on the list. The Angel replied that Abou’s name wasn’t on the list. Although Abou was disheartened yet he wasn’t sad and in a jovial voice, he then asked the Angel to write his name as one of those who loved his fellow men.
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
The Angel wrote his name as one who loved his fellow men and vanished. The next night the angel again appeared and awakened him and showed him the names of those who had received the love and blessings of God. The poet then exclaims and says Ben Adhem’s name was on top of the list ahead of everyone.
The moral of this parable is we should love our fellow human beings and that is the quickest way to earn the blessings of God. No religious rituals or prayers can earn us a quicker way to be in the grace of God than to love and be compassionate to our fellow human beings. This also follows several religious notions that God resides everywhere from nature to humans. To love humans is to love God, to cherish nature is to cherish God. In this manner, we can find God everywhere around us and only love and compassion can make us earn the grace and blessings of God.