Saturday, March 24, 2012

Visitor or Intruder?

My copy of The Essential Rumi falls open to a poem that begins like this:

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.

Back when I worked at the shelter, I read this poem to the homeless women before bed one night. We marveled that a man born in 1207 could speak so relevantly today, even to those --especially to those--whose house is only this human form, nothing more.

Welcome and entertain them all!

But would Rumi welcome a sports psychologist?

Athletes are taught to push past the body's built in signals designed to prevent harm, because the brain allows much less suffering than the body can actually take.

The boxer cannot allow entrance to the guests of
fear and self-doubt.

Welcome all guests until you get in the ring, the court--the courtroom, even. Is this confusing to the psyche, I wonder?

My bookmark holds the spot of another poem. In it, Rumi seems to say that guests need not be allowed a long stay.

Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free.







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