Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, is an invitation to mental health and self-care via a deeply spiritual path. The first time I heard it, I reacted strongly. I fussed and bothered and stormed about it for a long, long time. It feels so contrary to logic. And it felt altogether too out of control.
Some years have passed since that first reading. I’ve made friends with the out-of-control-ness of Rumi’s jarring invitation.
How does it settle in you?
The Guest House (~Rumi~)
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.
What happens in you when you read Rumi through? Can you picture your own interior “guest house,” and what it might be like to laughingly invite all who knock at the door?
Looking for someone to talk to?
We’re here to settle into conversation about some of life’s more confusing and complicated questions. What does it mean to welcome a “crowd of sorrows” into the guest house of our lives? And gratitude? For the “dark thought, the shame, the malice…”? How is that possible?
In spiritual therapy/direction we’ll be co-learners in wrestling with ideas like Rumi’s.
Do you recall the last time you turned your attention toward your Self? Does the idea of “inner space” have meaning for you? ‘The word “sacred”?
I’m sitting down to these wonderings on a day when my own inner space feels like Bilbo’s hobbit hole. It’s the night before a life-altering quest is set to commence, and I’ve been overrun with noisy, messy, bossy, hungry dwarves. They all seem to know something I don’t. They’re unbothered by the beauty and dangers and transformation that lie just outside my tidy hobbit hole door. They’ve charged the entryway, hunkered down at the kitchen table, and they’re eating every scrap of food I have in the house.
This inner space does not feel sacred. It just feels…feel-y. Disrupted. So, so messy.
Sacred – super holy and religious?
What happens in you when you hear the word “sacred”? Notice what’s skittered through your mind as you read the word. Pay attention to the feelings that arise in you, in your body.
The sacred and the holy have needed some (sometimes painful, always disruptive) unpacking and re-packing in my past few years as I revisit my own understanding of “God,” “belief,” and what it means to experience the “divine.” Much of my life I filtered those words through a moral code, and through a particular understanding of Christian texts. These codes and texts assured me of my innate flaws. My desperate need for fixing.
For me, now, the word is an experience of nature, people, or the thing that is happening right now as “uncorrupted.” Or, maybe, “by design.” It could be something like, “aligned with who I am designed to Be when I am living as my truest Self.”
Rather than an undefiled state that is arrived at via good behavior or violence to another, it is about a created state. A Way of Being. An intrinsic value. And, as one of my mentors would name it, an “Essential Goodness.”
What if you’re not flawed?
When we’re in the grip of emotion, it can feel a lot like we’re out of control in our own interior life. Those dwarves really do a number on my well-managed inner hobbit hole! Emotions are complex. They run deep. They have roots in family trauma, personal violation, really awful circumstances. It seems counter-intuitive to invite them into the warm, safe dining hall of our lives — to welcome them to settle at the table of our deepest Self. The place where Original Love abides.
Our sacred inner space.
That unalterably loving and unsullied space at the core of each of us. A safe, non-judgmental place of welcome and nurture. The Truest part of who we are. That part of our Person that hasn’t altered itself to please or appease. There are no masks in our sacred inner space: it is the place in you…in me…that knows that we are Good.
When lifeache and all of its subtle and violent cares crash around in our disquieted hearts and minds, it can seem like we do not house a sacred inner anything! We feel broken. Flawed. Messed up. So.messed.up.
What if we are not flawed? What if we’re just wounded? And what if our wounds are actually aids in drawing us ever more deeply into the space within that is home to our original Way: Love. Goodness.
What would it be like to tend to the sacred inner space that is You? Even to consider that the disruptors and emotional upheaval of your right now could be capably tended to by that deeply loving core in you?
However you might interact with the idea of your own inner space, acknowledging that it is real and present to you is a movement toward wholeness. There is a gentleness in even accepting that such depth and self-compassion might be at the heart of our interior life.
Knowing such is liberating. Interacting with our sacred inner space is transformative!
It is in that space that we grow in understanding that our hard work, our being-better-doing-better, getting-it-all-right Effort may be less critical than we’d thought. We can lay that down and simply participate with what Is.
On those days when our insides feel like a beleaguered hobbit’s dining hall overrun with the demanding dwarves of grief and loneliness and not-enough-ness we might begin to engage with that deeper Self, that holy inner space that invites healing, safety, and companioning.
If you’re looking for a companion in this, spiritual therapy/direction may be an option. Reach out to us via our contact page, Face Book, or Instagram. Or, explore local options for support in the care of your own soul.
“To listen is very hard because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements…True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, welcome, and accept.”
~ Henri Nouwen
What if you were given the invitation to settle in with a cuppa, a soft throw, and the opportunity to talk it all out? What if there was someone nearby ready to “receive, welcome, and accept” you as you are? Someone who believes that your deepest Self has wisdom and goodness to offer? You have found true listeners here.
Nouwen doesn’t stop there. His challenge is the quiet safety at the heart of our Still Lake Listening practice. He says, “Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories, and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit…
The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free….not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.”
Find that welcome – the safety of hospitality and compassionate listening – here. Contact us for more information on how you can connect with a listener.