On Giving Thanks for Being a Guest House

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, so I’m of a mind to be thinking about all of the people, opportunities and things for which I am grateful. It is a very long list. And as I think about this bounty, I find my Catholic roots tugging at my awareness – in the back of my mind is this little voice that says, “don’t let yourself get too happy, you know it can’t last, you know it won’t last.”  There was a time when I would have caved into that indictment and would have felt guilty for venturing out into the waters of happiness. These days I’m letting myself bask in the bounty and appreciating the moments while the sun shines. Sure clouds will come, but all the more reason to enjoy and appreciate the sun while is shines.

So, as I was thinking about all of this, I tumbled across Rumi’s poem, ‘the guest house’ … I hope you enjoy it as much as I do . . .

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.

— Jallaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

And, of course you MUST remember that this poem was written by Rumi, so the welcome he proffers is for all who come to our door, regardless of his or her race, religion, national origin, sex, gender, ability or any of that!  And, yes, Rumi was born and lived in 13th century Persia, the country we now call Iran. And yes he was a practicing Sufi which many people understand as a mystical branch of Islam. Ah, Rumi . . . you call us to honor the best that we are. Today I am thankful for you!