“Treat each guest honorably…”

From The Guest House – Rumi (translated by Coleman Banks):

“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 cleaning you out

for some new delight.”

It really makes no sense when you think of it, does it?  I have this long-established practice of naming, judging, putting labels on, characterizing these “guests,” these thoughts, these events, these things, these emotions that enter my life.  And, I do so most often before they actually create some effect or impact on my life.  Some I see coming and lock the doors to keep them out, others I allow in warily, still others I welcome at the front door.  Those I keep out, I pat myself on the back for doing so, assured of how things would have turned out had I let them in.  Those I allow in have some effect, and I name, judge, label, and characterize them “in real time,” predisposed, I guess, to label favorably since it was I who let them in.  Yet I do so knowing, if I am honest with myself, that I can’t predict the future (well, I predict it regularly, but not with any sense of reliability).  No, I can’t really know the potential impact of those guests turned away, nor the future impact of those allowed in.  Thus, the exhortation – “treat each guest honorably.”

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