A sultan's dream?

Such was the sense created by the mesmerizing Middle Eastern music, food, costumes and spontaneous poetry of a far-from-ordinary cultural benefit the evening of Feb. 8 in Santa Rosa.

It was Rumi's Caravan, a Sonoma County tradition that invites guests to be lulled and inspired by ecstatic verse -- some ancient, some contemporary -- performed amid a celebration of life with a vision of a peaceful and healthy world.

This sold-out rendition happened at the Glaser Center and benefited the Sonoma County-based Climate Protection Campaign.

Rumi's Caravan was born in Sebastopol more than a dozen years ago as a performance and community meal charmed by the globally celebrated poetry of the 13th century professor, jurist and theologian known as Rumi. Each year, Caravan co-founder Larry Robinson, the poet and former Sebastopol mayor, and his partners donated the performance proceeds to local nonprofit groups.

This year, Rumi's Caravan moved to Santa Rosa. The evening began with guests, some in costumes lavish to hysterical, sampling wine and Persian appetizers.

The performance that followed was the spontaneous interplay of poetry -- by Rumi and more modern muses -- and the music that flows from the exotic instruments of Eliyahu and the Qadim Ensemble.