I first discovered the wonderful world of the Sufi mystic, Rumi, almost five years ago through his poem, “The Guest House.”
It was the beginning of a season of self-discovery as well as an introduction to self-care for me, and Rumi’s declaration was both radical and freeing. I wanted his words to be a daily invitation, and so I commissioned a friend to write out and illustrate the poem so I could frame it.
The framed poem and illustration now hangs above the corner chair in which I practice centering prayer (almost) every morning, and I secretly hope that as I sit there in silence it beams its wisdom on me from above since I’ll forever be a novice at welcoming all the parts of myself, learning anew each and every day.
Here’s the beloved poem, “The Guest House,” as translated by Coleman Barks:
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 are 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 whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
This evening my “Pilgrim Principles” class at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will meet for the first time and we’ll be exploring the first pilgrim principle: “A pilgrim looks for the Sacred in the Quotidian.”
The pilgrim knows that even the most ordinary aspects of our days can serve as windows to the Divine. One everyday aspect that is often overlooked, and yet can consistently offer insight into our soul and the work of God within our lives, is our everyday emotions. Inspired by Rumi’s poem, this evening we’ll be participating in a meditation that encourages us to welcome the emotions that greet us each day, and I want to share it with you here so you can journey with us from afar.
Find a comfortable spot free of distraction and have your journal close by. Settle in with a few moments of silence and steady breathing and then direct your mind to the emotions that have decided to greet you today. Some might be obvious, such as worry that already has your mind racing or relief brought about by a slow day ahead. Other emotions might be lurking in the background, not as easily translatable but still present, such as shame or sadness.
Take a few moments to explore these emotions, not going too deeply, just simply noticing their presence. As you notice them, acknowledge and welcome them, no matter how uncomfortable or unsettling they might be.
close your eyes and explore your emotions for a few minutes, welcoming them
Now go a bit deeper with the emotions present, especially the ones that are surprising or strange, and begin to wonder what they might be trying to tell you. Do this internally first, making space for the Sacred Guide to give you insight rather than allowing your analytical brain to take over.
close your eyes again and spend a few minutes wondering about what your emotions might be trying to say
Close your meditation with a breath of gratitude for your emotions and what they communicate to you, and then write down any new discoveries as a reminder of what your feelings can convey. As you go about your day, carry the purpose of this meditation with you in your heart. Become aware of your emotions as they arise, welcoming them and finding Sacred meaning within. You might be surprised at the wisdom found in things so seemingly ordinary.
(Meditation excerpted from Pilgrim Principles: Journeying with Intention in Everyday Life.)
How can you begin to welcome your emotions as they come to you each day rather than rejecting them or pushing them away? Share your response to the question or the post in the comments.