“The Guest House” by Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī was a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar and theologian, and Sufi mystic.
The spiritual theme for January is “Welcome,” one of the six words in the new OUUC mission to Welcome and Wonder, Embrace and Empower, Bridge and Become. Rumi’s poem reminds us that each day we can welcome what comes, whatever that may be; welcome without judgement and even with gratitude.
At this time in our collective lives, there are things that we might want to shut the door on: climate chaos, anti-democracy movements, misinformation, grief and loss as the global pandemic continues.
My new year work week began with water intrusion in the sanctuary and a Severe risk level in our county for COVID-19, meaning that we return to mostly online connection. Here’s what I learned.
Our facility manager, Marie Arensmeyer, did a great job of managing the water and getting it cleaned up. Jerald Dodson helped identify the problem after the OUUC RE Assistant, Anissa Bentlemsani called him when she noticed the water. Jerald and Marie moved furniture. Mike Kyer moved the tech equipment. Administrator, Darlene Sarkela, reminded us of past water events and who has helped us before. I learned once again that people will come together to face a challenge—and it will be OK.
And, once again COVID invites me to notice what I expect, especially when I am disappointed and impatient. I SO want this to be over. I’ll bet you do, too. And it just isn’t. I have to remember to notice what I am thinking, and re-open my mind and spirit to what is. Notice my feelings and thoughts. Notice my body. Breathe. It’s practice, always practice.
Opening the door doesn’t mean that we always like what enters or even enjoy it. It does mean that we face it, inviting it in with curiosity and a search for meaning. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.* I do believe that it is a human impulse, a spiritual impulse, to make meaning of what we experience. Suffering is when we fight what is. We have the opportunity for growth when we open to what is, even welcome it, and make meaning of what is.
As we enter the new year, what are you welcoming? Can you welcome delight? Joy? Wonder? What do they offer you? What do the harder things bring for you to learn?
We don’t know what may knock on our door each day. We can know that we are connected to the spark within us, between us, and beyond us.
Blessings on your new year. May at least some of the guests at your door bring you delight.
*For more on this, check out Kate Bowler, who wrote Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved).