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.
Wednesday's Theme: Grief
Grief is like the guest that never leaves. Consistently hovering. Often exhausting. Sometimes maddening. Demanding with a sense of entitlement. Intrusive and draining. Rumi wrote this beautiful poem about The Guest House and its call for gratitude. As we near the ending of our journey, with the star shining brightly on the horizon, I’m not so sure I can get all the way to gratitude. I know, nonetheless that deep in my heart that I am committed to this journey. Even in the midst and mess of my tender grief, I am committed to looking East.
Eleanor Farjean’s carol, People, Look East was first printed in the Advent season of 1928. She wrote this timeless piece as everyone was recovering from the war to end all wars. Most everyone was feeling the strain of what would be a global, economic depression. Into those dark and dreary days, Eleanor created a song that called us to hoping, still. Her fourth verse says, “Stars, keep the watch when night is dim, one more light the bowl shall brim. Shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as the sun and moon together. People, look east and sing today: Love, the star is on the way.”
Advent holds so many things, so much of what we are carrying at the very same time. It holds calendars and commitments. It holds songs and carols, traditions and stories. It holds great joy and sorrow, tender hearts – empty and full, both. People, Look East continues to call us over the years to 2020. Here in these pandemic, quarantining days, this hymn invites us to not give up. Even here in these early winter days, these words remind us of the song of Love that is always, somehow singing.
We have been gifted with wise and gracious composers and writers of songs that often carry us through. Women and men who have composed melodies that somehow hold us throughout our lives and hold us now in this journeying to Bethlehem season. Words and melodies that are holding places for our tears and sorrows, our best hopes and best wishes.
2020 has been such a tender year. We have lived through days into weeks into months that we never would have imagined or even believed a year ago. Some of us have gotten sick, some have recovered. Some of us have lost loved ones. All of us have changed in small and great ways over the past many months because of COVID.
People, Look East is a hymn that continues to sing to me of hope. Especially this year, this is a song about trusting, anticipating and believing into what will be next. It reminds us that we are not alone. It reminds us that this is not nearly all of who we are in these days. There is more…love, story, song. This song encourages us to wait through the night. In this melody, with these words we are reminded once again that the dawn will surely come.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.