Rearranging the future, really cleaning things out, getting rid of “stuff” I no longer need; these are acts of renewal. Not just physical acts, this kind of work requires courageous visioning and many ideations of letting go.
Last summer I came upon this poem by Sufi mystic Rumi.
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.
The part that most stands out to me today is the idea that I do entertain visitors and often I am more troubled than welcoming. What would it look like to be grateful for whoever comes?
I’ve had plenty of times in my life when I am grateful…in hindsight.
When I first learned that the elementary school where I was teaching was being restructured, I thought this was a great opportunity for me to do something new. I eagerly applied for the “design team” that would work together to create a new way of doing school. I mean a design team? That name in itself was pretty revolutionary in the world of public school, especially in our neighborhood.
Without going into all the painful details– I didn’t get the job. Actually there were 5 positions and so my failure was quintupled. And it felt like it was tenfold. Our school staff, students and the neighborhood community center were excluded from the planning, excitement, and promise of the “new” school. I was very thankful then.
I’m feeling that my furniture is being metaphorically rearranged again or even emptied out. And it is never easy. And the results are always life-giving. And there is a new look. I just can’t see that far ahead, yet.