Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Guest House of Humanity

The Guest House...by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning, a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
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,
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

My whole life I've been envious of those people who seem so even-keeled.  Few things rattle or shake them.  They move through the world with a calm demeanor, not trying to prove anything or to create a ruckus.  They know who they are; speak when it's important; restrict themselves from emotional roller coaster rides and live lives that project stability and predictability.

These people allude me.  I couldn't be further from them.

Which is why Rumi's words above resonate so loudly, wildly, beautifully and painfully for me.

Many times, I fear that I do myself a disservice by wearing my heart so visibly on my sleeve or really, on my forehead.  Particularly when I'm in new social settings or trying to make an impression, I know that I can over-share and that there are big parts of the world who really could give two shits about all of my opinions and thoughts on things especially, when they're packaged with sprinklings of the f-bomb (and long run-on sentences like this one).

But the truth is, I know no other way to be and when I try to be anything but, I feel like a fraud.  I also recognize that being vulnerable in the world is really the only way to be.  And that as Rumi says, instead of stuffing our feelings of fear or rejection or wonder or hope or excitement or horror...we need to welcome them as guests in our home and trust that they've come for a reason.

To be human means to be varied.  To be on a roller coaster ride of sorts.  To be in the muck and the mountains.  To be high and low, sometimes at varying highs and lows all in the same moment. 

The question is what do we do when we're there?

Do we savor the experience or the feeling?  Or do we push it away if it's painful and not fully soak it in if it's beautiful for fear that the moment is elusive and fleeting?

I had the chance to try it out yesterday,  I'm less than two weeks away from race day and while on a 10-mile windy run, I started to give up.  The north wind was howling, my quads were on fire, my eyes were burning and while my legs were moving, I wasn't gaining distance.  In general, the mood is how I've been feeling about running as of late...which makes me sick knowing that this race marks three years of running and of saving grace in my life.  And so, I stopped and breathed deeply.  Too far away from home to call it quits.  Too close to race day to throw in the towel on my second to last long run.  Too committed for too long to simply throw all of it away.

Pain, beauty, fear, hope, anticipation and then, slowly, one foot in front of the other...me and the guest moving toward the lesson, inching our way along the journey.

To be fully human and fully present means to feel all of it...the good, the hard, the certain and the incomprehensible as if they were each guests here to teach us varied lessons about who we are and where we're going.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Best Version of You

It's a few days away from Easter and a few weeks away from my Kate's First Holy Communion.

So, this past weekend, we continued talking about the transformation that occurs when receiving the eucharist.

Simultaneously, a group of my soul sisters and I celebrated an amazing experience of sharing mass with a Jesuit priest at sunset at the Holy Family Shrine...an unbelievable glass walled chapel where you can feel God's presence in the water that runs through the floor and the sun that floods through the windows.

And while I was praying, I remembered a conversation that I had with Kate about sin.  She asked me if there are some sins that we sin our entire life and in particular, since I was the mommy and have lived for so much longer, are there some sins that I've sinned my whole life.  I thought about it and had to answer, yes.  She followed-up with, "Well, then why should we pray to have God take them away, if we'll never get there?  It seems silly."

Not long after that dialogue, I had a conversation with my girlfriends about living the best versions of ourselves and more specifically, asking if they were living their highest truth.  All of them almost instantly said, no.  It's not that they were disappointed in their current life station, it's just that their vision held something different, richer, more authentic, deeper.

And so the overwhelming question became, why do we try to posit change?  If at the end of the day, we find ourselves repeating patterns, behaviors, actions we know aren't helpful...why do we keep trying to behave differently?  It's something I've been struggling with this Lenten season.

What I'm landing on is that guilt doesn't work.  It only serves to send us spiraling back into the same spinning cycle of status quo.  Instead, what I'm drawing closer to is the Ignatian Examination of Consciousness...which in it's most basic form is a daily reflection of our deepest hearts desires prompting three powerful opportunities to discern...Where today did I experience profound joy?  Where did I feel deep sorrow or pain? And the extension of the invitation to God to help you along the journey.

And what this prayer screams to me is drawing deeper and closer to your truth...to exploring and unfolding the purpose that God has for your life and trusting in His grace and peace to help you uncover it.

And so are their actions that I have committed my whole life that I wish I could change, absolutely.  But I won't get closer to the highest version of myself by steeping myself in them.  I draw closer to the purest parts of me when I move towards that which brings me joy and when I apologize to those I've wronged along the way and ask God to guide me toward a deeper uncovering of my purpose and His vision of me.  And no matter how painful or how exhausting, it's a journey worth enduring.

This is what I shared with my Kate...who looks adorable in her initial try-on of the First Holy Communion dress...

Here's to finding our way toward the best versions of our beings.