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Gratitude as an expression of life-giving power


Several years ago a good friend sent me a poem by Rumi, a 12th century Sufi (Muslim) mystic. He sent it because he knew I was going through a rough spell. It is one of the best invitations to live in gratitude that I have ever read.

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 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.

The dark though, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

I recite it regularly, because it suggests to me that gratitude can have a power over all the things that life flings at us – and that we don’t want. Anne Lamott puts it this way: “So I say “Thanks” because revelation has shown me things that are miserable that somehow I may get to sidestep; or that are miserable but that prayer and friends help me find a way through; or that are painful and beautiful in ways that make your heart ache, that draw you closer forever to the comrades who have walked with you.” (Page 53, Help Thanks Wow.)

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