I celebrated my 29th birthday earlier this month. It was a tough day (not because it was my birthday, but for other reasons), made better by two birthday thoughts I received. It was actually a little bit freaky how much I needed these exact words. I’m going to share them here because I continue to find them tremendously powerful and beautiful and true.
The first was a poem by Rumi (written in the 13th century) called The Guest House:
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.
I’ll use my friend’s introduction for the next bit, since it explains it best:
“Last week while doing research on a two-page monograph printed by a letterpress guy in Georgia, I found the actual content on the Web. I supply a portion of Fra Giovanni’s words from 1513 as my birthday greetings to you this year of 2010.”
I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look! Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.
I think I need to memorize these so I can have them on hand every day.