Being Human


Children-daffodils-flowers Courtesy MSN Clipart

This, being human, has it’s interesting twists and turns. Some days I’m tuned in while others I’m at a total loss and confused. But, this poem puts it back in perspective for me and is tender in helping me realize what’s important in life and why I’m here.

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.


I can relate and understand that ups and downs are lessons, if I listen. Some just don’t make sense but that’s the point. It’s not what I understand with my head but with my heart. As I travel further on this journey, with this insight, I see the magic.

Sometimes, these twists and turns teach us to face our biggest fears. It reminds me of a story, I once read I never forgot, in “Saint Francis” by Nikos Kazantzakis (page 93),  where he had a dreamlike vision. The one thing Francis was most terrified of was the very thing he was instructed to do . . . kiss a leper on the mouth.

I can pretty much guess this isn’t something we would be asked to do today but the fear Saint Francis experienced with being challenged to follow through on this request was as real as any we could possibly face now. You could sense his entire body was tormented and trembling at the very thought of it.

To paraphrase, this story goes on like this: Almost paralyzed in fear, the next day Francis managed to get up and walk down the road, with Brother Leo, attentive for the sound of bells off in the distance. This was the sound of a leper coming. They wore bells to let others know they were near

Francis soon heard it and as he got closer he could see the leper. He came close and gazed in horror as half of his nose had been eaten away. His hands had no fingers and were just stumps and his wounded lips were oozing.

Ignoring his own terror, Francis then embraced him, throwing himself upon the leprous man and kissed him upon the lips choosing instead to follow God’s request. He, then, picked him up, wrapped him in his robe and began carrying him toward the city. As he got closer, Francis stopped and bent down to uncover the robe carrying the leper but as he pulled it away the robe was empty.

Unable to speak, Francis suddenly realized, with tears flowing from his eyes and falling to the ground to kiss the earth, that it wasn’t a leper at all. It was Christ Himself who had come in the form of a leper to test his faith.

You may ask if we’re really tested like this . . . maybe or not. But, magic happens, like Saint Francis experienced, when we have the same realizations. Our eyes are opened to the same possibilities, when we accept challenges we face each day and ignore our greatest fears. Are the beliefs we have real or are they just illusions?

How strong is the belief that we’ll risk our very lives to hold on to it. That’s the greatest challenge some are facing today in very real ways and it’s valid. It’s like the story of the man holding on to a rope unwilling to let go.

And a little like what I saw yesterday at a breakfast gathering when the conversation turned to the latest controversial topic of immigration and children being separated from their families.

The emotions were real, strong and valid. There was anger, yet tears in the eyes of the one who spoke. Even though our positions are different, I understood. I had been there and felt the dilemma on the inside where beliefs are so strong and justified but being challenged with different feelings from the heart. It’s hard to know what is true and how to let go.

It’s something we each struggle with and have to learn to identify. When we get what we think is guidance, who’s talking and can I trust it? Individually, it takes time to figure that out. But with it comes magic. It’s possible to work through and so worth it on the other side.

Thank you for reading and hope you’ll share some thoughts and experiences you’ve had too.

Pat from the ol’ kitchen table.

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Acknowledgements: The Guest House - by Rumi and transla more...

14 thoughts on “Being Human

  1. Hi Pat,

    I loved this post!

    Rumi is one of my all-time favorites. So much wisdom and power in his writing.

    And I loved the story of St. Francis and the leper. It challenges us to see Christ in all our brothers and sisters — and to remember we are all one.

    Thank you for a powerful, thought-provoking post!


    • Hi John — can’t tell you how happy I am you stopped by and enjoyed it. I’m with you in Rumi being one of my all-time favorites commanding so much wisdom and power in his words.

      I’m re-reading this book, Saint Francis, after remembering and finding the text on the leper to include here. Francis’ presence must have been so close to Nikos Kazantzakis when he wrote this, as it is compelling and gives me chills sometimes in the reading of it.

      In fact, it’s what Nikos says in the Prologue that he was overwhelmed by love, reverence and admiration for Francis and everywhere about him, as he wrote, he sensed the Saint’s invisible presence.

      Thank you for sharing and your kind words.

  2. Hi Pat, yes, we all have our fears to deal with, and it takes courage to face the contradictions in our beliefs — we all have those too. So I would say that it’s generally best to give people the space and understanding that they need to work through their fears, rather than being quick to judge them as lacking compassion.

    • Thank you, Meg. I couldn’t agree more. Best to give people their space and understanding rather than be quick to judge. It’s easier to say than do sometimes but I think it works best when we can do this. So happy you stopped by ~~ good to see you.

  3. Oh Pat ~ what wise words and yet asking the questions which many of us ask. How many of us follow our heads rather than our hearts. I must read it again. I’m so glad you’re back. You have messages to share that’s for certain Dx

    • You’re kind, Diana. Thank you for sharing. There are questions going on in me all the time and I’m glad maybe in others too. There are hard questions, especially these days — not that it was any easier in St. Francis’ time. Maybe, the questions will bring us to more conversations these days and we’ll learn from each other.

      So glad you stopped by and that it stirred something and caused you to pause in thought for a moment. Hope you heard how much you’re loved. Always enjoy seeing you over here. Love and hugs.

  4. A beautiful sun-filled image in your header Pat, and then words that are wise and thoughtful. We may not have tests as obvious as the one of St Francis, but I do think we have tests of our values and our humanity all the time – big and small. Whether it’s having the courage to challenge a viewpoint you disagree with, to draw attention to things going wrong in the world, or to do something much more terrifying than that.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Andrea. I agree the tests challenge our values and humanity all the time. I think that’s what St. Francis knew was that any test, whether great or small, touches our core and connects us to something greater than anything we could ever realize. Some will make our hearts fill with love while others will bring us to our knees. Thank you for sharing. Means a lot. Love and hugs.

    • Haha — me neither, Joanne, been nothing other than human. Thank you. So glad to see you again and I’m glad you liked the poem, my friend. Take care. 🙂

  5. I can relate to both the poem and the story, Pat. I haven’t told you, but I have been through a “baptism by fire” this past year. I was in a horrific, physically and sexually abusive, situation at work, and I remember telling my very wise yoga teacher that I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. She said, “Don’t look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Look for the lesson you are supposed to learn.” And I learned many lessons: letting go of my fear of “insecurity,” valuing myself enough to get myself out of the situation, letting go of negative friendships, overcoming my fear of speaking my truth, letting go of social media because it was not bringing me peace, and rediscovering my passion–writing–and my voice.

    • Wow! Bethany, I should say you’ve had quite a year! I can’t imagine what all you’ve been through and, yet, I’m happy, “You’re still here, my friend.” (clap clap)

      I don’t know why some have to go through such tough circumstances. But, I know for me, it has made me more understanding and compassionate on the other side. Spot on with the advice from your yoga teacher. I can see it’s not just the holding on for this to pass and just get through it. It’s not an enduring contest but for us to embrace.

      Sounds like you’re transformed and all the better, Bethany. I’m glad you could see it and were willing to let these life events teach you. Love you and looking forward to reading about it. Thank you for stopping by and sharing. Hugs . . . always.

I would love to hear from you. . .thank you for stopping by.

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