It is Thanksgiving day in the U.S. as I am writing this month’s article, and I must share with you that Thanksgiving day is one of my favourite holidays. While other holidays have more hoopla, the spirit of Thanksgiving day is pure and simple and touches my heart. It is a day to give thanks for all the joys and blessings in our life. This is an important ritual and practice, especially in a year that has been very challenging for many. But challenges have their gifts as well. It is through the process of surmounting challenges that we develop strength of character, through challenges that the very best of us can be brought forth. So I thought this month I would share with you a poem from the mystic Sufi poet Rumi: It is called The Guest House.

45336629 - pumpkins and autumn leafs over turquoise wood“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexplained 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 the beyond.”

Let’s examine the wisdom in this poem: “This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.” This is an excellent analogy when you think about it. Every single day we experience a constant, never-ending parade of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Sometimes our thoughts are hopeful and sometimes fearful; they can change even within the hour. Sometimes we’re feeling relaxed, sometimes uptight, often at the most inconsequential events. Experiences good, bad and indifferent all come our way in a never-ending sequence. Some stay for a short while and then leave; others linger. It is indeed as if we’re a guesthouse and we’re hosting all these things every day.

“Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,” says Rumi. Now this is a little bit harder to understand. Why would you welcome a “crowd of sorrows,” especially if they “sweep your house empty of its furniture.” Well, because “a crowd of sorrows” is the path of the sacred wounding, the path of crisis, and it is an important ritual in our life. A life without any crisis or misfortune would be a shallow life. We can be assured that each of us will have our share of both. This is not fatalism but a recognition of the richness and diversity of a life. Crises always, and I want to emphasis the word “always,” produce new and greater benefits when one approaches them in the way that Rumi suggests. “Welcome them,” because they have arrived bearing gifts, though the gifts are disguised as a crisis. Welcome them and then seek out the lessons and messages that they bring. Comfort is the enemy of change and when things are going well for us we make no attempt to change our