Rumi BBT Dark Times

Rumi BBT Dark Times

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.”
translated by Coleman Barks , The Essential Rumi, 109, 2004.


Barbara Brown Taylor read this poem by Rumi at the end of a lecture she gave in Little Rock last year. We are hearing this theme of looking for what we are to learn in difficult and painful experiences from so many wise writers. Tutu writes about it in his book, Forgiving. Barbara Brown Taylor writes about it in Learning to Walk in the Dark, I hear it from Richard Rohr. It is even biblical! There is the Hebrew Bible story of Joseph and his difficult journey to Egypt where in the end he is able to save his family.  It is the life of Jesus.  The lesson is this: that which is difficult has something to teach us. If possible, we are to learn to honor it rather than cursing it.

I usually can only recognize the Grace months or years down the line when I can see Resurrection rising from the ashes of a situation I never thought I could live through.  My most precious example is one you will hear many times. I was in a car accident fifty years ago when I was a junior medical student which left me with mobility disabilities I still daily struggle with. I had to leave medical school for six months. I dropped back into the class where I met my husband now of almost as many years. We never ever would have met if I had not been in that accident and our names were not close to each other in the alphabet and we were on the same rotations together. Today, I never curse my disabilities or the accident, for I cannot imagine my life without him. Any of you who know him know what an amazing person he is.

As I daily hear stories of great tragedy, I want to let people know, there can be victories out of them, but it would be unkind and never helpful to suggest that at the time, but I can over time keep looking intently for ways God is redeeming their lives and caring for all of us. In difficult times, we can start with small victories, like just being able to get out of bed, and then moving on from there.