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.
It's a quiet day at Laase House. 6 inches of snow have slowed the neighborhood down to a wintery, dreamy state of mind. Jesus and his dad (whose name is also Jesus!) dropped by to help clear my driveway and to let me know that the crew was taking the day off today. Tracking the snow all over the house as they came and went was just going to create a mess. These two guys are so smart, so talented at what they do, and so kind... I will miss them today. But, for the first week day since December 28th or so, I have the house to myself, and the quiet is soothing. The storm is passing now, I see the sun winking in and out from behind the clouds, and the streets are sloggy (what a great word!) instead of snow covered. I should probably get myself out there on this lunch break I am taking and shovel the driveway one more time.
Instead I find myself a little pensive. I've been thinking about this poem for a few days now. Laase House has become the kind of place that seems to attract visitors - that's actually what I intended to happen, and I am glad for it. In spite of the state of disarray and ongoing construction, this is still a beautiful and welcoming home. So with my pondering of the meanings of house, home, visitors - this poem seemed destined to find me.
I love when Joy comes to visit. She's always very welcome - indeed I long for her to visit sometimes, when the hours are weighing dark and heavy and the midnight candle is flickering. But what about those dark thoughts - that quickly recalled sense of shame? Instead of recoiling from them, trying to slam the door in their face and hide from them, I have learned, slowly, to welcome them for who they are. As the poem says, they are guides from beyond. Not meant to harm you or drive you towards dark despair, but meant to guide you towards healing, to a better way of experiencing this world. Instead of hiding, I am learning to meet them with a laugh, face them head on, welcome them in the door and find out why they've been sent to visit me. I have to say that we have had some interesting conversations!
I was very broken for much of my life. I did so many things in my time to make sure I would not end up my life alone, but here I am, with my dogs and my cats and my garden and my visitors.... living alone, and working on my house, which I love, and working on myself. The two seem to go hand in hand. I guess I can at long last say that I also love myself, and that I am worthy of this love. With all my doubts, shame, dark thoughts, I can still say that life is beautiful. And I too am beautiful. It's hard to say that and really believe it, so I will keep saying it until it sticks. I am beautiful.
I have NEVER in my life said that before.
Thank you, Laase House, for helping me to understand this.