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.
From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks
House guests are usually welcomed visitors and so maybe Rumi has it right. Entertain them all! Joseph’s brothers return today in Genesis 44 and they tell the news of his father. The raw emotions pour out then. Joseph wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the whole household of Pharaoh heard it. The brothers are dismayed at the revelation of who he is. A crowd of sorrows could have rushed in and overturned furniture violently but instead Joseph redeems the situation and the past. He welcomes their shame and distress with the laughter of joy. His father is alive. He is reunited with his family. Most importantly, he acknowledges how God used what happen for glory–God sent me before you to preserve life.
Jesus too speaks of being a house guest today in Matthew 10. He describes how the disciples should enter the house, greet it, and if the house is worthy, leave their peace upon it. If it is unworthy, let the peace return. When we enter someone’s house, we can be guides that bring peace to those who live there or we can unsettle our hosts. Both have a place. When we enter our own houses, as in our own spirits, we can also pay attention to the guests there and learn from them. We can wish them peace and befriend them.
The social worker that I am meeting with regarding my cancer shared this Rumi poem with me after we had been talking about fear and some of the other guests who get a bad rap in the emotional department. He suggested paying attention to them and listening to what they were trying to share with me. Let them feel welcome to sit for a while. Get to know them and to recognize how they feel in my body. What do they do when they are there? Why have they come for a visit? The image of Joseph weeping so loudly that all heard him symbolizes a letting go and a release of the sorrow. He did not try to contain it but gave it free reign. My family doctor told me the other day that crying in her office was something I could do. She invited my sorrow into her room. I was grateful for that because it builds a relationship of trust and safety. If we invite emotions in, then perhaps they do not control us but rather we can have an enlightening conversation.
What emotions do you try to banish from your house? Why?
Are all emotions a gift from God that can teach us valuable lessons?
Dear Master Builder,
If the house is not built on a strong foundation
it will crumble
You created us and said it was good
This includes our emotions
Help us to welcome all of them,
entertaining them and getting to know them well.
Let this guest house be gracious and accommodating,
ever attentive to what you are trying to teach us.
Show us how to treat each guest with honour and respect.
May peace be upon us.