The Guest House

February 18, 2021

in Reflections

by Alp Duran on Unsplash

This month’s article highlights a deep and meaningful poem from
Rumi. It is entitled “The Guest House” and calls to us because it
invites us to consider all experiences meaningful and relevant to
our lives and asks us to consider how we respond to these
‘Guests’ when they come to our house and knock on our door.

The Guest House
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.
~Rumi

In times such as these we are consistently challenged with responding to our ‘Guests’ that we haven’t seen for a long time, or that perhaps we have never met. The despair, loneliness, isolation, confusion, uncertainty and unpredictability from COVID have made it necessary for us to push through and find our own sense of joy and happiness, sometimes even at the risk of ignoring or suppressing the negative experiences. We think that Rumi is encouraging us to embrace even the negative, as those ‘Guests’ will help us change and grow and blossom into more wholesome and welcoming beings. The ‘Guest’ invites us to embrace and nurture everything that we face in an honest and sincere way.

We invite our readers to read the poem, and perhaps even read it a few times, and then to consider how “The Guesthouse” is relevant in your life “during times such as these”. To get a sample of some responses please click on this link that will take you to our GES website. Read the reflections that are already posted and please, feel free to add your own. It is so wholesome to hear the voices of many people! Let us know what’s in your hearts’ mind…….

Reflections received so far…….

Reflection #1
One of my Guest House visitors has been worry about an uncertain future. Who knows where we’ll be, and how long before we get there?  This plague has caused us to hunker down, try to make the best of it, and try not to worry too much about our loved ones and community who are suffering – which is everyone!  Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and yet I am thankful daily to live here in a peaceful loving environment, and to stay connected with our family and friends even if we can’t hold them near. We send out our love from our safe sanctuary, try to keep our bodies moving, stay creative, and hope that it helps us all get through these trying times.

Reflection #2
And how does Rumi speak personally to me this morning as I sit in my home with my doors closed to receiving my extended family, my dear close friends and the visitors who frequent my abode, all who enrich my life in so many meaningful ways. As a person who treasures hospitality in its many forms and in particular in my own home, the directives of our times which I honour and respect, have at times created a turmoil within my heart. Could it be that during this period of isolation I am being called to a different focus on hospitality. Within this solitude and silence I have the opportunity to welcome change and take an about turn in the previous focus of my life, reversing from my action oriented exterior life and plunging deeply into a more intimate world, into a space deep within myself where I recognize that I am experiencing a welcoming with open arms. Although I might feel somewhat uncomfortable in this unfamiliar domain will I be a gracious guest? Will I honour the comfort and support which is being offered to me?

Will I welcome new awarenesses, new ways of seeing, and new ways of being. Perhaps this forced period of withdrawal truly becomes a gift where we can ponder the driving forces which have brought our present society to the position it is now in, the huge disparity between the rich and the poor, the major concerns about environmental issues, the suffering and pain of those who do not have proper food and shelter, the list goes on and on. However, it is also important to recognize the bountiful caring, the compassion, the loving kindness that we are also witnessing, and the admirable strength and determination of the majority of people who are all working in harmony with one another for the welfare of all, each one making an individual commitment. We all struggle to protect one another from the great havoc this mighty little virus invading our world is causing in our present day society. As we ask ourselves what meaning we can make of all of this we can gain wisdom from Pope Francis as he writes, “What is the greatest fruit of a personal Covid? I’d say patience, sprinkled with a healthy sense of humour, which allows us to endure and make space for change to happen.” I would like to believe that this period of isolation is the guest house in which we incubate the beginning of a new way of being in this world we all live in. A world where we become much more aware of our interconnectedness and far less focused on our differences. A world in which love overshadows fear. A world in which ‘power with’ supersedes ‘power over’.

As Rumi says BE GRATEFUL FOR WHATEVER COMES BECAUSE EACH HAS BEEN SENT AS A GUIDE FROM BEYOND.

Reflection #3
For me, the Guest House has always served as a powerful practice for my most negative mind states.  it’s such a kinky sort of a twist and a game changer to meet my own rage or shame or malice or judgment at the door – respectfully and with deference.  to welcome them in as though greeting a long lost lover!  i offer them the best seat in the living room of my mind, and i set before them a lovely drink and some delectable treat.  i surrender myself to their comfort as they partake of my offerings.  when they have finished, i ask them quietly, “why have you come?  you often come to visit me, here in the living room of my mind.  please – tell me, why have you come?  is there something you need from me?”  and i wait for them to consider my request.  they do, and then, they ALWAYS respond.  i listen carefully, taking note of their perspective, and their wishes and requests.  i thank them for coming, and for sharing with me what they would like from me.  after some time, i see them to the door, and watch them as they take their leave from the living room of my mind.

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