Today I want to share with you Rumi’s generative metaphor of the human experience as a guest house. Learning about the guest house has been very important to us in our lives, and is important to all of us as we face the challenges in our world today. Our guest house has been filled to the brim: a confusion, a helplessness, a complication, an obstacle, a discouragement, a momentary relief, a new fear, a frustration, an exhaustion. A great variety of guests have been crowding at our door.
In his poem, Rumi tells us: “Don’t say, “O another weight around my neck”. He inspires us to instead “welcome and attend them all”. He encourages us: “Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably”.
It is not easy. It is not easy to follow Rumi’s advice when sorrow crowds at the door. It is not easy to do what he asks and to welcome difficulty “as a familiar comrade”. And yet Yumi and I have noticed that, during this time in which we have experienced so many sorrows, how much new loving, new tenderness, new ideas, new depth, new strength has entered our life.
Watch this video clip to let yourself be inspired by Rumi’s words. “The moment you accept what troubles you have been given, the door opens“, says Rumi. And he adds: “Whatever sorrow takes away, or causes the heart to shed, it puts something better in its place.”
Over the years we have been living and teaching couples that very same idea. We have been saying: “Welcome conflict as a friend. Welcome frustration as an opportunity. Remember that it is growth knocking at your door”. We have been introducing the image of our relationships as a living laboratory in which difficulty becomes the launching pad for the creation of two mature human beings.
Now we are noticing that our laboratory, has given us the maturity to live this sorrowful time of life very well. We have become accustomed with the welcoming of difficulty as a friend, of frustration as a familiar comrade, who knocks at the door of the guest house, and invites us to shed our old ways, and put something better in its place. This process of life’s challenges as an invitation to growth is the process called Tikkun, that exquisite Hebrew word that combines healing, re-pair, transformation and completion, the harmonious flow with every single thing that life’s destiny is offering us along the path.