Who is Knocking?

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.

~ Rumi

In the past few days, I have had some unexpected visitors. Some have come in forms that seem like pain, others in forms that seem like joy, some appearing as opportunity, others mostly looking like challenge. It’s not always easy to welcome what is unexpected. As a human animal, frequently focused on the future, I plan. That which comes as a surprise isn’t planned for, and disrupts past planning.

My first reaction to such disruption, being not only human but also somewhat of a “Type A” personality, is to begin planning anew. Do you see the irony here? But, now, being in a more mindful frame about my own responses than I used to be, I also take some time to examine my need to do that planning, look at my reactions to the unexpected, and try to open my mind to the reality that the next thing is also unexpected, and that my plans are, at best, “bets” on the future.

What is your reaction to the unexpected guests at the door? Do you welcome them in with curiosity and mindfulness? Do you try to bar the door and ignore the knocking? Do you let them in, but attempt to maintain your usual routine even with new guests?

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