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 RumiThis 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.(A teaching story translated by Coleman Barks
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.