Being the Guesthouse

I’ve been meditating on Rumi’s poem “The Guesthouse” again:

The Guest House
by 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.

And also holding this quotation of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in mind: “There will always be times in the midst of ‘success right around the corner, but as yet still unseen’ when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”

Seemingly contradictory. Welcome in each Big Feeling–the anxiety, the discouragement, the despair–as though guests in a guesthouse. What do you have to teach me? What guidance? What treasure? And still. Still, I am also not keeping a chair for despair, not a winsomely hopeful table set as if for the most revered of guests. I will not feed the Big Feelings. They’re here to bring their messages and depart, to teach me what they need to teach, and go on and away.

Deep breathing, art, poetry, good music, anchoring myself in my body and my senses. I need to find the balance between dealing with the anxieties and listening to them. You there! Crawling Thing in the pit of my stomach: Let’s sit for a minute and talk about what brings you here. What is your message? What am I to learn from you? Thank you–now you can be on your way while I ground and center and breathe. And prepare for the next journey, as Dr. CPE suggests.

Gratitude List:
1. Listening for the messages in the Big Feelings, but not harboring them
2. Pondering Purpose
3. Lilies of the Valley
4. Painting again
5. Dreams
May we walk in Beauty!

“My ego is desperately. . .trying to get the experiences that I think will fill me up and make me happy again. But no matter how much I try, it doesn’t work—because it’s not in the content of experience that I’ll find happiness, but in the quality of my attention and presence in any experience I have.” —Russ Hudson

“Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection.” ―Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

by David Whyte
Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens
so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” —Margaret Atwood

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” —Ella Fitzgerald

“To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on your futures, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.” ―Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

“Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.” ―Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

Don’t You Wish that You Could Hear Them Ring?

Yesterday after school, I went out the front door and smelled something overpoweringly beautiful.  They’re here.

Just quickly:

A List Poem for Earth Day

Julia Butterfly Hill
The trees are breathing while we sleep
Wangari Maathai
The trees cover the hillsides now
Jane Goodall
The wild ones are watching
Rachel Carson
Above us, the falcons while and turn
John Muir
The mountains come alive with wildflowers
Vandana Shiva
The seeds break open and send forth roots
The Lorax
Someone is speaking for the ones with no voice

Gratitude List:
1. Defenders of the Earth.  Those girls who spoke in chapel yesterday about caring for the environment, following in the footsteps of Carson and Shiva and Muir and Hill.
2. Lilies of the Valley
3. Brown Creeper
4. Making Mandazis.  I have never made what I would call a truly successful batch until last night.
5. In-Service Day today (and my body sort of let me sleep in until 6:30).  I like to have occasional days where we are working, but I am being fed rather than doing the feeding.

Much Love!  May we walk in Beauty!

Making Way for New

Sad that so many of my ferns have been killed by the cold, I am hoping that the lilies of the valley fare better.

Each of my sons is preceded by a shadow child.
Something calls my children to a time before they were.
And yet they were reluctant–both–to leave the womb,
resisting the raging tides that expelled their siblings early.

Or perhaps my body just refused to give them up,
these two it had managed to hold onto for the count.
My body said, “I’ve got this one.  I’ve got this one!”
Forty-two weeks, and the child was knocking at the door
and still the body wasn’t ready to let go her charge.

Sometimes that which is lost makes way
for that which is to come, creates a space.
That first one would be ten now half a year,
but my eldest celebrates that mark one month away.
That year, I labored twice, in May and May.

How often do we plant a tenuous seed of hope
in fields laid bare by grief and loss?
When you look in the eyes of the past
can you see where sorrow ends
and something new begins?

Gratitude List:
1. Book Sale scores: Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of a Common Language, three Italo Calvino (gonna be surreal summer of reading), a Milan Kundera, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rushdie, Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea, and Reading Lolita in Tehran.  (I haven’t read Lolita myself–the premise creeps me out–but I have heard good things about Nafisi.)
2. Josiah got a book of 365 crafts a year, and has already made a cardboard gnome house in response.  He thinks there should be many more giant craft books like this.  I showed him my collection, which he says is boring.
3. Ellis got a book on science fair projects and spent the afternoon researching home-made solar cells, which is the topic of his science project this year.
4. Weekend breakfasts
5. Those geese calling out by the pond.

May we walk in Beauty!