If you are at all familiar with Rumi, I’m sure you are aware of his poem, The Guest House. I return to it frequently, especially when I feel a little off balance…or a lot off balance! I refer to it so often lately, I’ve printed it and now use it as a book mark in my journal. I include it at the end of this post, if you would like to read it again.
I generally keep myself out of the dark recesses of my mind, wherein I can be returned to the ego’s powerful reminders of what I am not, what I do not have, or any number of those types of things, rooted in past experiences that were unpleasant. In my heart I know and feel differently. And…I am human. This being human is very challenging these days. If the pandemic and all of its concomitant suffering were not enough to see, hear and feel so deeply, I am feeling very weary going in this year’s election. I am heartened by the activism of so many people. Without the helpers, where would we all be?
And yet, the sickness gripping our country at this time – the non-COVID one – is enough to keep us all despairing that we will ever get out of this. And yet, I am here. Now.
There was a time in my life when I was quite adept at minimizing my own feeling of sadness or despair – my own suffering – by comparing my situation to someone else’s apparent situation; emphasis on apparent. We cannot know much of anything about what we observe in another, even if we think we can. When I used to do all of that comparing out – it gave me a moment of comfort, of not feeling so bad about my own situations. And of course, pushing down those feelings didn’t take care of them. They simply piled up deep inside. Depression eventually ensued and of course, I got help.
Today, I honor my feelings – all of them, including those which are showing up lately.
Just the other day, I started to remember all of what I have been missing as we all cope collectively with a pandemic in a country and a time in our history, where there was no effort to create a nationwide response that would have made a huge difference in every way for every one. Because some of us respect the power of this contagion, and some of us do not, there isn’t a lot of traveling that I feel comfortable doing at all. Outside dining is supposed to be ok, and I’m not even going to do that.
This time of year is quite lovely where I live. Visiting local wineries or breweries and going on short hikes, sitting outdoors in the cool Autumn air is something I always look forward to. Hot air ballooning is another fun activity to enjoy in the Autumn. The stunning Fall colors below, as you float so quietly above the earth are beautiful to see…and the morning sunrise from the air, breathtaking. Visits to family members in other states, or a late summer/early fall beach vacation is always nice. Enjoying a quiet coastal town when all of the vacationers have returned to their respective homes is a wonderful experience. And…well…not this year.
I cannot say I’ve spent much time “missing” any of these until recently. Perhaps it is the “escape” aspect of it all that feels so appealing in these days of so much uncertainty.
I feel I am not alone in the myriad feelings about the complexities of our days. Even as I reach for higher, spiritual connection and comfort, I am still human. This being human…well…it’s challenging some times.
To soothe my aching heart, I pray and meditate and write. To navigate the challenging waters of my human experience in these times, I read and listen to historians. Their life long study of so much of the nation’s and world’s history provides a context for the possibility of a future that we can create together that is more loving, addresses the seemingly endless list of disparities laid bare for us to see now, and begins to heal the planet that we have collectively ravaged for far too long.
And…I keep my eyes and heart wide open.
~ ~ ~ ~
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 are 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.